January 26, 2019
Prosecutors say the Trump ally, who was arrested on charges including obstruction, lied about his pursuit of hacked emails
Roger Stone set to appear in federal court in Washington DC
Roger Stone is due back in court on Tuesday, this time in Washington DC, where he will be called to answer the charges first made against him in court in Florida on Friday in the Trump-Russia investigation – witness tampering, obstruction and lying to Congress.
Stone, a long-time ally of Donald Trump and a notorious, self-declared political “dirty trickster” and Republican operative, was arrested in Fort Lauderdale early on Friday in a pre-dawn call by FBI agents armed with assault weapons and a warrant.
Prosecutors say he lied about his pursuit of hacked emails damaging to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, according to the indictment. The US government says the emails were hacked by Russian intelligence officers, and they ended up being made public by Wikileaks.
In its most serious accusation from special counsel Robert Mueller, the indictment states that after WikiLeaks had begun releasing hacked Democratic emails, “a senior Trump campaign official was directed to contact Stone about any additional releases and what other damaging information [WikiLeaks] had regarding the Clinton campaign”.
This direction was given to the unnamed senior Trump campaign official after 22 July 2016 – more than a month after it was reported that it was Russian government hackers who had broken into the Democratic National Committee’s computer systems.
Stone has maintained his innocence and has said he will plead not guilty. But he is just the latest in a string of senior Trump campaign or administration figures charged with serious crimes. Former campaign chairman Paul Manafort appeared in court in Washington on Friday for the latest hearing in his case, pre-sentencing.
On Friday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said the charges against Stone had “nothing to do with the president” but she would not answer whether Trump was the individual who ordered a senior campaign official to ask Stone about more dirt on the Clinton campaign.
Later on Friday, House speaker Nancy Pelosi, fresh from her victory of conceding nothing on behalf of the Democrats before Trump ended the 35-day partial shutdown of the federal government over disagreement on funding for a wall on the border with Mexico, spoke up on the many Trump campaign allies who have now been charged or convicted of crimes.
In a strongly-worded and probing statement, Pelosi said: “The indictment of Roger Stone makes clear that there was a deliberate, coordinated attempt by top Trump campaign officials to influence the 2016 election and subvert the will of the American people … In the face of 37 indictments, the president’s continued actions to undermine the special counsel investigation raise the questions: what does Putin have on the president, politically, personally or financially?”
In court on Friday, the judge told Stone he was to surrender his travel documents and that his movements would be curtailed, limited to any future court appearances in Florida, New York, Washington DC and Virginia. Stone replied: “I do not currently own a passport, it’s expired.”
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