It was nearly two weeks ago when Republican operative Roger Stone, a longtime adviser to Donald Trump, said he'd invoke his Fifth Amendment rights instead of cooperating with the committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack. But in practical terms, he still had to show up and plead the Fifth while sitting down with investigators.
Today, as NBC News reported, that's exactly what happened.
The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol on Friday questioned Roger Stone under oath about the attack, but the longtime adviser to former President Donald Trump said he didn't give them any answers.
Stone told reporters he was concerned about Democrats "fabricating perjury charges on the basis of comments that are innocuous, material or irrelevant." He's also claimed not to have been involved with the violent pro-Trump riots.
Circling back to our earlier coverage, there is a certain symmetry to the circumstances. In December 2018, after two members of Trump's inner circle had already pleaded the Fifth, Republican operative Stone told congressional investigators that he, too, was invoking the Fifth Amendment's protection against self-incrimination as lawmakers investigated the Russia scandal.
In December 2021, after two Republican lawyers close to the former president — Jeffrey Clark and John Eastman — pleaded the Fifth as part of the investigation into the Jan. 6 attack, Stone is once again doing the same thing.
The decision means there are now three people in the former president's inner circle who have said they'll refuse to answer questions about the Jan. 6 attack for fear that their answers may be used against them in possible criminal proceedings.
As for the politics, as recently as 2016, it was Trump himself who derided those who asserted their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. "The mob takes the Fifth Amendment," the then-candidate said. "If you're innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?"
Postscript: This controversy is unrelated to the criminal matter from early last year, when a jury convicted the Republican operative of multiple crimes, including obstruction, lying to investigators, and witness tampering.
Last summer, as regular readers may recall, before Stone could begin his 40-month prison sentence, Trump commuted his sentence. It was among the most brazenly corrupt steps of Trump's term, featuring a then-president rescuing a convicted felon who lied on his behalf as part of a broader cover-up. A Washington Post editorial called Stone's commutation "one of the most nauseating instances of corrupt government favoritism the United States has ever seen."
Two days before Christmas 2020, Trump went further and pardoned Stone.