Irony: Stone busted over Clinton’s emails


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Former campaign adviser for President Donald Trump,  Roger Stone walks out of the federal courthouse following a hearing, Friday, Jan. 25, 2019, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.  Stone was arrested Friday in the special counsel's Russia investigation and was charged with lying to Congress and obstructing the probe. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Former campaign adviser for President Donald Trump, Roger Stone walks out of the federal courthouse following a hearing, Friday, Jan. 25, 2019, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Stone was arrested Friday in the special counsel's Russia investigation and was charged with lying to Congress and obstructing the probe. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)


Roger Stone: A Trump ally known for dirty tricks

By JONATHAN LEMIRE

Associated Press

Saturday, January 26

NEW YORK (AP) — It was vintage Roger Stone: The longtime Republican operative flashed a Nixonesque double-armed victory sign after being indicted Friday for lying to federal investigators.

Stone, with his self-professed political dirty tricks and the tattoo of Richard Nixon on his back, has long lurked in the shadows of Donald Trump’s world and was instrumental in guiding him on his first steps to the White House.

Stone was only officially on the president’s campaign for a few months, but would spin reporters, peddle conspiracies and, according to prosecutors, collaborate with WikiLeaks to release damaging information about Hillary Clinton in the final stretch of the 2016 campaign. He was arrested Friday for lying to investigators and trying to tamper with a witness.

Stone has a knack for commanding attention: He sports impeccably tailored suits and close-cropped bleach blond hair and is willing to say just about anything. He has known Trump for decades, pushing him to run for president as far back as 1998 after seeing in the New York celebrity developer the potent political combination of charisma, money and controversy.

Stone on Friday denied any wrongdoing, flashing Nixon’s famous “victory” sign as he stood outside a Florida courthouse hours after he was arrested by FBI agents who moved on his house before dawn. He decried his arrest as motivated by the president’s political enemies and as an example of overreach by special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating 2016 election interference and possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.

“There is no circumstance whatsoever under which I will bear false witness against the president nor will I make up lies to ease the pressure on myself,” Stone said after being released.

Stone had predicted his own arrest for months, trying to raise money for his defense online while making sure to stay in Trump’s good graces, perhaps with an eye on a presidential pardon down the road.

Trump tweeted Friday that Stone’s arrest was part of the “Greatest Witch Hunt in the History of our Country!” Last month, after Stone said he would not testify against the president, Trump praised his “guts.”

Having long lived by the code that “It’s better to be infamous than never famous at all,” Stone almost seemed to beam outside the Ft. Lauderdale courthouse.

Sam Nunberg, a Stone ally who also worked on the early stages of the Trump campaign, said the self-described “dirty trickster” would relish the legal spotlight.

“This is going to be OJ-esque,” said Nunberg, referring to OJ Simpson, the former NFL star whose 1990s murder trial captivated a nation. “Roger will love every minute of it and while prosecutors may say this is a slam dunk case, don’t count him out.”

The 66-year-old political operative, the subject of the Netflix documentary “Get Me Roger Stone” released two years ago, has been working on Republican politicians’ campaigns for nearly five decades. He practiced what he deemed the “dark arts” for Nixon’s 1972 campaign, installing a spy in Hubert Humphrey’s campaign and later taking a job in the administration. He has said he was not involved in Watergate and immortalized his love for the 37th president with the smiling Nixon tattoo on his back.

He then worked on campaigns for Ronald Reagan, where he met a fellow operative by the name of Paul Manafort. The two men, along with partner Charlie Black, founded a business that soon became one of Washington’s mega-lobbying firms. The group became known for its effectives in helping Republican causes and willingness to take on unsavory clients, such as dictators Mobutu Sese Seko in the Republic of the Congo and Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines.

Manafort later became Trump’s campaign chairman in spring 2016, in part due to a recommendation from Stone. Manafort was found guilty last year on a series of financial crimes.

For decades, Stone kept turning up in the center of political controversies. In his own telling, he was at the center of an unruly demonstration during the 2000 presidential recount in Florida that pressured officials to halt the tally and helped give the White House to Republican George W. Bush. He also claimed to have a hand in uncovering a prostitution scandal that helped bring down New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer in 2008.

Through it all, Stone never strayed too far from Trump’s orbit. When Trump began toying with declaring a White House bid in 2015, Stone was there, helping create the catchphrase “Build the wall” as shorthand for the celebrity businessman’s commitment to hardline immigration policies. Stone left the campaign just a few months later — he said he quit, Trump said he was fired — but stayed close, frequently holding late-night phone calls with the candidate to discuss strategy and messaging.

He got banned from cable news channels for threatening a host, was accused of peddling false stories about Sen. Ted Cruz to the tabloids and cultivated support for Trump among the fringes of the conservative online movement, including Alex Jones’ InfoWars. And he created the impression within the upper levels of the Trump campaign that he had contacts with WikiLeaks, the shadowy organization devoted to revealing secret documents, which had obtained tens of thousands of emails from Clinton’s campaign.

The indictment against Stone, citing details in emails and other forms of communications, suggested that Trump’s campaign knew about additional stolen emails before they were released and asked Stone to find out about them. The first batch of stolen Democratic National Committee emails were released on July 22, 2016, five days before Trump, at a campaign event, called for Russia to unveil the rest of the Clinton team’s emails.

That August, Stone tweeted that Clinton’s campaign manager, John Podesta, would soon have “time in a barrel,” suspiciously predicting trouble for him a full five weeks before Wikileaks released a batch of his emails. Those Podesta messages, which turned into a damaging story for the Clinton campaign, were released that October 7th, just hours after a 2005 video of Trump bragging about groping women was unearthed. Stone, who had said publicly that he was in contact with WikiLeaks, has denied having prior knowledge about the release.

Follow Lemire on Twitter at http://twitter.com/JonLemire

Trump ally Stone charged with lying about hacked emails

By ERIC TUCKER and CHAD DAY

Associated Press

Saturday, January 26

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s confidant Roger Stone has been charged with lying about his pursuit of Russian-hacked emails damaging to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 election bid. Prosecutors allege that senior Trump campaign officials sought to leverage the stolen material into a White House victory.

The self-proclaimed dirty trickster, arrested by the FBI in a raid before dawn Friday at his Florida home, swiftly blasted the prosecution as politically motivated. In a circus-like atmosphere outside the courthouse, as supporters cheered him on and jeering spectators shouted “Lock Him Up,” Stone proclaimed his innocence and predicted his vindication.

“As I have said previously, there is no circumstance whatsoever under which I will bear false witness against the president, nor will I make up lies to ease the pressure on myself,” Stone said.

The seven-count indictment, the first criminal case in months in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, provides the most detail to date about how Trump campaign associates in the summer of 2016 actively sought the disclosure of emails the U.S. says were hacked by Russia and then provided to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks. It alleges that an unidentified senior Trump campaign official was “directed” to keep in contact with Stone about when stolen emails relating to Clinton might be disclosed.

Stone is the sixth Trump aide or adviser charged by Mueller and the 34th person overall. The nearly two-year-old probe has exposed multiple contacts between Trump associates and Russia during the campaign and transition period and revealed efforts by several to conceal those communications.

The indictment brings the investigation even further into Trump’s circle of advisers and suggests campaign officials were eager to exploit the stolen messages for political gain. But prosecutors did not accuse Trump of wrongdoing or charge Stone with conspiring with WikiLeaks or with the Russian intelligence officers Mueller says hacked the emails. They also did not allege that Trump aides knew in advance of the hacking.

The prosecution mirrors other Mueller cases in alleging cover-ups and deception, accusing Stone of lying to lawmakers about WikiLeaks, tampering with witnesses and obstructing a House intelligence committee probe into whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia to tip the election.

Trump attorney Jay Sekulow said the indictment “does not allege Russian collusion by Roger Stone or anyone else.” Trump, in a tweet Saturday, said that if Stone “was indicted for lying to Congress,” then “what about the lying” by top law enforcement and Obama-era national security officials, though he presented no specifics to support his assertion of such “lying.”

CNN aired video of the raid at Stone’s home in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, showing agents in body armor using large weapons and night-vision equipment, running up to the home and banging on the door.

“FBI open the door!” one shouts. “FBI, warrant!” Stone could then be seen in the doorway in his sleepwear before he was led away.

Though not uncommon for the FBI to make early-morning arrests of targets under indictment, it’s the first time Mueller has used that tactic. In court papers, prosecutors wrote they had concerns that if Stone was tipped off to the indictment, it would increase the risk he would flee or destroy evidence.

Hours after his arrest, Stone appeared in court in a blue polo shirt and jeans. In releasing him on $250,000 bond, a magistrate judge restricted Stone’s travel to South Florida, Washington and New York City and ordered him to avoid contact with witnesses. He’s due Tuesday in a court in Washington, where the case was filed.

“This morning, at the crack of dawn, 29 FBI agents arrived at my home with 17 vehicles, with their lights flashing, when they could simply have contacted my attorneys and I would have been more than willing to surrender voluntarily,” Stone said outside court.

Known for his political antics, conspiracy theories and hard-ball tactics, Stone has reveled in being a Washington wheeler-dealer dating back to former President Richard Nixon’s administration. On Friday, he mimicked Nixon’s famous “V” gesture as he left the courthouse.

Stone, a longtime friend of the president’s, briefly served on Trump’s campaign, but was pushed out amid infighting with then-campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. Though sidelined, he continued to communicate with Trump and stayed plugged into his circle of advisers.

The indictment says Stone repeatedly discussed WikiLeaks in 2016 with campaign associates and lays out in detail Stone’s conversations about emails stolen from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta and posted in the weeks before Trump beat Clinton.

The document says that by June and July 2016, Stone had told senior Trump campaign officials that he had information indicating that WikiLeaks had obtained damaging documents on Clinton.

After WikiLeaks on July 22, 2016, released hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee, the indictment says, a senior Trump campaign official “was directed” to contact Stone about additional releases and “what other damaging information” WikiLeaks had “regarding the Clinton campaign.” The indictment does not name the official or say who directed the outreach to Stone.

Though no officials are identified by name, one Trump campaign aide cited in the case is Steve Bannon, who later became Trump’s chief White House strategist. Bannon, referred to as a “high-ranking Trump Campaign official,” exchanged emails with Stone in October 2016 about WikiLeaks’ plans. The indictment quotes from those emails, which had previously been made public by news outlets.

While the indictment provides some new insight into the Trump campaign, it deals largely with what prosecutors say were Stone’s false statements about his conversations about WikiLeaks with New York radio host Randy Credico and with conservative writer and conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi, who rejected a plea offer from Mueller last year.

The indictment says Stone carried out a “prolonged effort” to keep Credico from contradicting his testimony before the House intelligence committee. During that effort, prosecutors note that Stone repeatedly told Credico to “do a ‘Frank Pentangeli,’” a reference to a character in “The Godfather: Part II” who lies before Congress.

Stone is accused of threatening Credico, including through messages in which he called him “rat” and “stoolie.” He also threatened to “take that dog away from you,” a reference to Credico’s dog, Bianca.

“I am so ready. Let’s get it on. Prepare to die (expletive),” Stone also wrote to Credico.

Stone has said for months he was prepared to be charged, while maintaining he had no inside information about the contents of the emails obtained by WikiLeaks or the timing of their release.

Still, he has long attracted scrutiny because of his WikiLeaks-related comments, especially a 2016 tweet — “Trust me, it will soon (be) the Podesta’s time in the barrel” — that appeared to presage knowledge that Podesta’s emails would soon be released.

In a tweet Friday, Podesta turned Stone’s words against him, writing that it was now “Roger’s time in the barrel.”

Read the indictment: http://apne.ws/1P23qpR

Associated Press writers Michael Balsamo in Washington, Jonathan Lemire in New York, Jennifer Kay in Miami and Terry Spencer and Kelli Kennedy in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, contributed to this report.

In Trump ally Stone’s case, Mueller finds crime in cover-up

By ERIC TUCKER and CHAD DAY

Associated Press

Sunday, January 27

WASHINGTON (AP) — Donald Trump confidant Roger Stone may be accused of lying and tampering with witnesses, but it’s equally notable what he’s not charged with: colluding with the Kremlin in a grand conspiracy to help Trump win the presidency in 2016.

The case is the latest in a series brought by special counsel Robert Mueller that focuses on cover-ups but lays out no underlying crime. It’s a familiar pattern in Washington, where scandals from Watergate to Iran-Contra and Whitewater have mushroomed into presidency-imperiling affairs due to efforts to conceal and mislead.

In the Russia investigation , one Trump aide after another has been accused of lying to investigators, or encouraging others to do so, about Russia-related contacts during the campaign and transition period.

Mueller may well have evidence of criminal coordination between Trump associates and Russia that he has yet to reveal, but so far, he’s focused repeatedly on those he believes have tried to throw federal or congressional investigators off the trail.

Stone’s indictment charges him with seven felonies, including witness tampering, obstruction and false statements, while leaving open the question of whether his or the Trump’s campaign’s interest in exploiting Russia-hacked emails about Democrat Hillary Clinton crossed a legal line.

“There’s sort of two possible ways this investigation could end up. One is he finds this big Russian conspiracy or collusion with the Russians to influence the election,” said Randall Eliason, a George Washington University white-collar criminal law professor and former federal prosecutor. “The other, I think very real possibility, is he just finds a cover-up.”

The Stone case is in some way reminiscent of Mueller prosecutions that have accused former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen of lying to Congress about his role in a Moscow real estate project; former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn of lying about his contacts with the Russia’s U.S. ambassador; and ex-campaign aide George Papadopoulos of lying about his knowledge that Russia had “dirt” on Clinton in the form of stolen emails.

In none of those cases did prosecutors say the things the defendants lied about were crimes themselves.

The absence of a definitive answer to the collusion question, more than 20 months into Mueller’s work, has given the president and his allies a wedge to attack the investigation. In the hours after Stone’s pre-dawn arrest at his Florida home Friday, Trump returned to his favored refrain of “NO COLLUSION” on Twitter. His lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, mocked the case as “nothing more than another false statement charge” and speculated without evidence that Mueller’s inquiry was nearing an end.

But with each new charge, Mueller continues to publicly untangle Trump campaign operations and their intersection with Russia’s efforts to hurt Clinton and help Trump.

The Stone indictment, for instance, reflects an unflattering portrait of a presidential campaign eager to exploit stolen emails about a political opponent. It alleges that Stone informed unidentified senior Trump campaign officials of what Stone was hearing about plans by the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks regarding the hacked emails. It says a senior Trump campaign official “was directed” to contact Stone about additional releases and “what other damaging information” WikiLeaks had “regarding the Clinton campaign.”

Though those allegations don’t form the basis of any of the charges against Stone, their inclusion in the 24-page indictment could signal that Mueller isn’t done with that prong of the investigation. He already has charged 12 Russian military intelligence officers in the hacking of Democratic email accounts, setting up the potential for prosecutions of any Americans who might be involved in that conspiracy.

“This doesn’t look to me like an investigation that’s about to wrap up,” said Stanford law professor David Alan Sklansky. “I would be cautious about reading too much into what’s not in the indictment.”

All told, Mueller has charged six Trump associates and 34 people overall, along with three companies. It is unclear when the investigation might end.

A defiant Stone, flashing a Nixonian-style victory sign, emerged from the courthouse on Friday to proclaim his innocence and predict his vindication. He was released on $250,000 bond and will make his first court appearance Tuesday in Washington, where the case was brought.

“As I have said previously, there is no circumstance whatsoever under which I will bear false witness against the president, nor will I make up lies to ease the pressure on myself,” Stone said.

He denied prosecutors’ accusation that he repeatedly lied to the House Intelligence Committee, including when he said he had not discussed his pursuit of the stolen emails with any Trump campaign officials. Stone has previously denied that he ever bullied other witnesses to change their testimony, which is another allegation he faces.

Jimmy Gurule, a Notre Dame law professor and former Justice Department official, said that so far Mueller’s Russian defendants stand accused of one set of crimes and the American ones accused of separate violations, without direct evidence linking the two. But, he said, the repeated allegations of lies and false statement might speak to a “consciousness of guilt” that could pique a prosecutor’s interest and suggest more grounds to pursue.

“I do think that it’s more than just coincidental that there’s all of these communications between multiple members of the Trump campaign and Russians, and efforts by members of the Trump campaign to cover up and conceal” those communications, he said.

Read Stone’s indictment: http://apne.ws/1P23qpR

Where the investigations related to President Trump stand

By The Associated Press

Sunday, January 27

A look at where investigations related to President Donald Trump stand and what may lie ahead for him:

WHAT’S THIS ALL ABOUT?

Trump is facing investigations in Washington and New York.

Special counsel Robert Mueller is looking into whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia and whether the president obstructed the investigation. Trump also plays a central role in a separate case in New York, where prosecutors have implicated him in a crime. They say Trump directed his personal lawyer Michael Cohen to make illegal hush-money payments to two women as a way to quash potential sex scandals during the campaign.

WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW?

Roger Stone, a confidant of President Donald Trump and former campaign adviser, was arrested Friday morning and charged with lying to Congress and obstruction.

Stone was charged in a seven-count indictment that includes witness tampering, obstruction and false statements. He was arrested at his home in Florida during a pre-dawn FBI raid. Stone is scheduled to appear in court later Friday.

The indictment provides the most detail to date about how Trump campaign associates were aware in the summer of 2016 that emails had been stolen from the Hillary Clinton campaign. It alleges unnamed senior Trump campaign officials contacted Stone to ask when the stolen emails might be disclosed.

Court documents lay out Stone’s conversations about the stolen emails posted by WikiLeaks in the weeks before Trump defeated Clinton.

Stone is also accused of making false statements to the House intelligence committee.

He has been under scrutiny for months but has maintained his innocence.

Meanwhile, in Washington, a federal judge has scheduled a sealed proceeding to determine whether former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort intentionally lied to investigators.

Judge Amy Berman Jackson said Friday she would provide a redacted transcript as soon as possible. The Feb. 4 hearing will be closed. Manafort pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy in Washington in September as part of a plea deal.

He agreed to cooperate in the special counsel’s Russia investigation but prosecutors charge he breached the deal by lying. Manafort’s attorneys say he just didn’t have a perfect recollection of all the facts.

Jackson said she must decide for herself whether Manafort lied in order to properly sentence him.

SO … DID THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN COLLUDE WITH RUSSIA?

There is no smoking gun when it comes to the question of Russia collusion. But the evidence so far shows that a broad range of Trump associates had Russia-related contacts during the 2016 presidential campaign and transition period, and several lied about the communication.

There is also evidence that some people in the president’s orbit were discussing a possible email dump from WikiLeaks before it occurred. American intelligence agencies and Mueller have said Russia was the source of hacked material released by WikiLeaks during the campaign that was damaging to Hillary Clinton’s presidential effort.

OTHER QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:

—WHAT ABOUT OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE? That is another unresolved question that Mueller is pursuing. Investigators have examined key episodes such as Trump’s firing of former FBI Director James Comey and his fury over the recusal from the investigation of former Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

—WHAT DOES TRUMP HAVE TO SAY ABOUT ALL THIS? Trump has repeatedly slammed the Mueller investigation as a “witch hunt” and insisted there was “NO COLLUSION” with Russia. He also says his former lawyer, Cohen, lied to get a lighter sentence in New York.

For more in-depth information, follow AP coverage at https://apnews.com/TrumpInvestigations

Former campaign adviser for President Donald Trump, Roger Stone walks out of the federal courthouse following a hearing, Friday, Jan. 25, 2019, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Stone was arrested Friday in the special counsel’s Russia investigation and was charged with lying to Congress and obstructing the probe. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
https://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2019/02/web1_122207036-92453a92865d466b9e39969147a0c23b.jpgFormer campaign adviser for President Donald Trump, Roger Stone walks out of the federal courthouse following a hearing, Friday, Jan. 25, 2019, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Stone was arrested Friday in the special counsel’s Russia investigation and was charged with lying to Congress and obstructing the probe. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
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