July 12 (UPI) -- Former special counsel Robert Mueller responded to claims that his investigation into potential collusion between Russia and President Donald Trump's 2016 was illegitimate following the president's decision to commute Roger Stone's sentence.
Mueller published an op-ed in the Washington Post on Saturday asserting that while the work of the special counsel's office including indictments, guilty pleas and convictions "should speak for itself" but that he felt compelled to respond to claims that its "motives were improper and that" stone was a "victim" of the office.
"The Russia investigation was of paramount importance. Stone was prosecuted and convicted because he committed federal crimes. He remains a convicted felon and rightly so," Mueller wrote.
Trump on Friday commuted Stone's sentence, four days before he was set to spend 40 months in prison. Stone, who wasn't pardoned by Trump, is appealing his conviction but the commutation protects him from serving prison time as a result.
A statement from White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany following the decision declared that Stone was "a victim of the Russia hoax," referencing terminology Trump has often used to describe Mueller's investigation.
Stone, a 67-year-old Republican strategist, was convicted in November of charges that included lying to Congress, witness tampering and interfering in the House's Russia investigation.
"He lied about the identity of his intermediary to WikiLeaks. He lied about the existence of written communications with his intermediary. He lied by denying he had communicated with the Trump campaign about the timing of WikiLeaks' releases. He in fact updated senior campaign officials repeatedly about Wiki Leaks. And he tampered with a witness, imploring him to stonewall Congress," Mueller wrote.
Mueller added it was critical for the special counsel's office to obtain "full and accurate information" adding that its decisions in Stone's case were "based solely on facts and the law in accordance with the rule of law" and any claims to the contrary are false.
"When a subject lies to investigators, it strikes at the core of the government's efforts to find the truth and hold wrongdoers accountable. It may ultimately impede those efforts," wrote Mueller.
Prosecutors had originally recommended Stone serve seven to nine years in prison. But Attorney General William Barr recommended a more lenient sentence. The entire prosecution team resigned from the case in protest.