Roger Stone: ‘I will plead not guilty to these charges’
Roger Stone has been indicted by a grand jury on charges brought by special counsel Robert Mueller, who alleges that the longtime Donald Trump associate sought stolen emails from WikiLeaks that could damage Trump’s opponents while in coordination with senior Trump campaign officials.
The indictment’s wording does not say who on the campaign knew about Stone’s quest, but makes clear it was multiple people. This is the first time prosecutors have alleged they know of additional people close to the President who worked with Stone as he sought out WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
“After the July 22, 2016, release of stolen (Democratic National Committee) emails by Organization 1, 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. STONE thereafter told the Trump Campaign about potential future releases of damaging material by Organization 1,” prosecutors wrote.
The indictment also says: “During the summer of 2016, STONE spoke to senior Trump Campaign officials about Organization 1 and information it might have had that would be damaging to the Clinton Campaign. STONE was contacted by senior Trump Campaign officials to inquire about future releases by Organization 1.”
Stone was arrested by the FBI Friday morning at his home in Florida, his lawyer tells CNN. He was indicted Thursday by a federal grand jury in the District of Columbia on seven counts, including one count of obstruction of an official proceeding, five counts of false statements, and one count of witness tampering.
Shortly after Stone appeared in federal court, he emerged to a crowd filled with both protestors and supporters — some shouting their support as others chanted “lock him up.” Stone told reporters and the crowd that he would plead not guilty to the charges, which he believes are politically motivated.
“After a two-year inquisition, the charges today relate in no way to Russian collusion, WikiLeaks collaboration or any other illegal act in connection with the 2016 campaign,” he said.
Stone also said he would not testify against the President.
“I have made it clear I will not testify against the President. Because I would have to bear false witness against him,” Stone said.
The FBI also executed a search warrant at Stone’s New York residence, according to Kristin Davis who shares the duplex with Stone.
Stone’s attorney, Grant Smith, told CNN in a statement that Stone’s misstatements were due to forgetfulness and were “immaterial.” He also said Stone did not receive materials from WikiLeaks ahead of their public release.
“They found no Russian collusion or they would have charged him with it,” Smith said.
Jay Sekulow, an attorney for the President, told CNN in a statement: “The indictment today does not allege Russian collusion by Roger Stone or anyone else. Rather, the indictment focuses on alleged false statements Mr. Stone made to Congress.”
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told CNN’s John Berman on “New Day” Friday, “This has nothing to do with the President and certainly nothing to do with the White house. This is something that has to do solely with that individual, and not something that affects us here in (the White House).”
Stone appeared in federal court in Fort Lauderdale late Friday morning. He was released on a $250,000 signature bond.
On October 7, 2016, after WikiLeaks released its first set of then-Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s emails, prosecutors say Stone received a text message from “an associate of the high-ranking Trump campaign official” that said “well done,” signaling that the Trump campaign was looped in on Stone’s quest for dirt on Democrats.
The associate and the high-ranking campaign official are not named in the complaint, though the indictment describes how Stone told a reporter that what Assange had in the unreleased emails was good for the Trump campaign. Stone responded at the time, “I’d tell [the high-ranking Trump Campaign official] but he doesn’t call me back.”
An email matching that wording that was published by The New York Times shows that the official Stone referred to was Steve Bannon.
After the October 7 releases, Stone boasted to “senior Trump Campaign officials” that he had correctly predicted the data dump, prosecutors say.
However, the indictment doesn’t detail direct communication Stone or others may have had with Assange.
Stone has maintained publicly that he did not know in advance about what WikiLeaks would release. That alleged lie, which he also told to Congress, forms the basis for some of his other criminal charges in Friday’s indictment.
The indictment also alleges that Stone lied to Congress about “his communications with the Trump Campaign about Organization 1.” In the indictment, Organization 1 is WikiLeaks.
The indictment unsealed Friday after Stone’s arrest makes clear he communicated with multiple people about what Assange knew, and they were providing him updates from Assange and what Stone wanted to communicate with him. Prosecutors cite text messages and emails he exchanged with the people about what Assange had, and one sent a photo of himself standing outside the Ecaudorian embassy in London, where Assange has stayed for years.
The men passed on much of the information after WikiLeaks began speaking publicly about stolen documents it had but before all had been released.
According to previous reporting, those people included radio host Randy Credico and Jerome Corsi. They are unnamed in the indictment and have not been charged with crimes.
Corsi confirmed to CNN that he is “Person 1” in the indictment and that the statements about him in the indictment are “accurate.”
“What is contained in the indictment confirms I did nothing wrong,” Corsi said.
Corsi also said Stone and his allies should be advised “the investigation being done by the special counselor is extremely thorough,” Corsi said. Corsi has been interviewed by Mueller’s team multiple times and confirmed to CNN in November that he was in plea negotiations with Mueller’s team.
“They have everything,” he said. “I can tell you that from first-hand experience.”
Stone also communicated with a “supporter involved with the Trump Campaign” via a text message about what else Assange had.
Stone was also indicted on a witness tampering charge for his alleged attempts to sway Credico’s story before he testified to Congress — even tapping into language from mob movies and citing disgraced President Richard Nixon, who Stone once worked for.
Credico is identified as “Person 2” in the indictment — one of the people who was communicating with Stone about what Assange knew — his lawyer, Martin Stolar, confirmed to CNN.
“Randy is a witness,” Stolar said, and will testify if needed in proceedings involving Stone.
Stone has claimed that Credico, a progressive New York political activist and radio host, served as his backchannel to WikiLeaks during the 2016 campaign. Credico has denied that he acted as an intermediary.
Over text message, Stone told Credico, “‘Stonewall it. Plead the fifth. Anything to save the plan’ … Richard Nixon,” prosecutors said. Stone warned Credico he would get “indicted for perjury” because he could contradict Stone’s testimony. “And if you turned over anything to the FBI you’re a fool,” Stone told Credico later via text.
Multiple times, Stone told him to do a “Frank Pentangeli,” a reference to a “The Godfather: Part II” character who was a former Corleone ally who later feigns innocence to Congress before killing himself.
He also called him “a rat” and a “stoolie,” prosecutors say. He threatened to take away Credico’s dog — a fluffy white therapy pet named Bianca who even later went with Credico into his grand jury appearance — and told him “Prepare to die [expletive],” prosecutors wrote.
Credico pleaded the Fifth Amendment and did not answer questions in a House Intelligence Committee interview.
Those communications led to a witness tampering charge against Stone.
Early morning raid
A number of law enforcement vehicles with silent sirens flashing pulled in front of Stone’s home on a darkened Ft. Lauderdale street just after 6 a.m. Friday morning.
About a dozen officers with heavy weapons and tactical vests fanned out across Stone’s lawn.
Law enforcement shined a flashlight into Stone’s front door before one officer rapped against it, shouting, “FBI. Open the door.”
Seconds later, the agent shouted, “FBI. Warrant.”
A second-floor light turned on and moments later, Stone appeared in the front entryway. He confirmed who he was to law enforcement.
This story is breaking and will be updated.
CLARIFICATION: This story has been updated to reflect the first set of emails released in October 2016 were those of then-Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.