About a month ago, Special Counsel Robert Mueller sought an official transcript of Roger Stone’s testimony to the House Intelligence Committee. It was seen at the time as evidence of Mueller’s intention to file charges against the Republican operative and longtime Donald Trump associate.
As it turns out, those assumptions were correct. Stone was arrested this morning in south Florida, and is scheduled to make a court appearance later this morning.
Roger Stone, a former adviser to President Donald Trump, was indicted by a federal grand jury as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe and arrested Friday on charges of obstruction, giving false statements and witness tampering.
Stone has been under the microscope of Mueller over his alleged connection to WikiLeaks and hacked Democratic emails released by the site during the 2016 presidential campaign. He has repeatedly denied any collusion with WikiLeaks.
The Justice Department posted the full criminal indictment online here.
It tells a very interesting story about a seasoned Republican operative who partnered with Donald Trump’s presidential campaign soon after the candidate kicked off his candidacy, and “maintained regular contact with and publicly supported” Trump’s effort through Election Day 2016.
According to the indictment, after Russians stole Democratic documents as part of its espionage operation, Stone spoke with senior officials in the Trump campaign about an entity described as “Organization 1” – a reference to WikiLeaks – and “information it might have had that would be damaging to the Clinton Campaign.”
As NBC News’ report added, Stone now stands accused of lying to Congress about his interactions with WikiLeaks and encouraging a witness to provide false testimony and withhold information.
On the second page of the indictment, prosecutors added this eye-opener: “Stone was contacted by senior Trump Campaign officials to inquire about future releases by Organization 1.”
When considering the question of whether, and to what extent, Team Trump “colluded” with the Russian attackers trying to put Trump in power, this morning’s indictment advances our understanding quite a bit. WikiLeaks had the stolen Democratic materials, and Stone allegedly spoke to Trump campaign officials about the information Russia stole.
But it was apparently a two-way street: the Trump campaign allegedly also reached out to Stone about WikiLeaks’ efforts to disseminate the stolen materials during the campaign.
Indeed, on the fourth page of this morning’s indictment, prosecutors alleged that after WikiLeaks released stolen materials in July 2016, “a senior Trump campaign official was directed to contact Stone about any additional releases and what other damaging information Organization 1 had regarding the Clinton campaign.”
“Directed” by whom? We don’t yet know, but this raises some interesting possibilities.
In a missive that looked like possible witness tampering, Donald Trump published a tweet early last month praising Roger Stone, writing, “ ’I will never testify against Trump.’ This statement was recently made by Roger Stone, essentially stating that he will not be forced by a rogue and out of control prosecutor to make up lies and stories about ‘President Trump.’ Nice to know that some people still have ‘guts!’”
As the case against Stone proceeds, I’d recommend keeping this tweet in mind.