In a missive that looked like witness tampering, Donald Trump published a tweet on Monday praising longtime associate 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!’”
Just one day later, the Republican operative who received Trump’s praise announced he’d plead the Fifth rather than cooperate with a Senate inquiry. Politico reported:
President Donald Trump’s longtime political ally Roger Stone invoked the Fifth Amendment’s protection against self-incrimination as he declined to share documents and testimony with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, according to a letter posted Tuesday by the committee’s top Democrat, Sen. Dianne Feinstein. […]
Stone is under scrutiny in special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, in part over allegations that he had foreknowledge of WikiLeaks’ dump of Clinton campaign emails the month before the election. Stone has denied any advance knowledge, despite a series of tweets foreshadowing the contents of the emails, which he attributed to educated guesses and indirect information provided through an intermediary with WikiLeaks.
Stone is not the first person close to Trump to invoke the Fifth Amendment as part of this scandal. In May 2017, former White House National Security Adviser Michael Flynn pleaded the Fifth in response to a Senate Intelligence Committee subpoena, and in April 2018, Michael Cohen did the same as part of the Stormy Daniels lawsuit.
We now know, of course, that Flynn and Cohen later adopted far more loquacious postures in the months that followed. Whether Stone does the same remains to be seen.
But for Trump, his previous rhetoric on the subject should make all of this a bit awkward.
As the Washington Post reported in the spring, according to the president, those who plead the Fifth should be assumed to be guilty.
“The mob takes the Fifth,” Trump said after Hillary Clinton aides invoked their right against self-incrimination. “If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?”
He added at his first debate with Clinton that pleading the Fifth is “disgraceful.”
“When you have your staff taking the Fifth Amendment, taking the Fifth so they’re not prosecuted, when you have the man that set up the illegal server taking the Fifth, I think it’s disgraceful,” he said.
I have a hunch Trump has a different perspective on the issue now.