Donald Trump has commuted the sentence of long-time confidant and political ally Roger Stone, with a White House statement claiming he “is a victim of the Russia Hoax that the Left and its allies in the media perpetuated for years in an attempt to undermine the Trump Presidency”.

The outspoken Republican consultant had been due to start 40 months behind bars on Tuesday for lying to Congress, obstruction and witness tampering – charges linked to an investigation into alleged Russian interference in the US political process.

Meanwhile cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus have continued to surge across the US, with a Reuters tally saying the figure had risen by 69,000 on Friday – setting a record for the third consecutive day. Among the states hit by a rise in numbers has been Florida, where the Walt Disney company intends reopen its flagship theme park.

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