Roger Stone, a former longtime confidant of President Donald Trump, was arrested in Florida on Friday morning following a federal indictment resulting from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s sprawling probe into Russian election meddling.
FBI agents armed with rifles took the self-decsribed political dirty trickster into custody in a dramatic pre-dawn raid with their weapons drawn and a lead agent shouting ‘FBI! Open the door! We have a warrant!’
With tactical flashlights shining in his face, Stone confirmed his identity to the agents and was led away.
Stone is charged with seven federal counts including five of making false statements, one of witness tampering and one of obstruction of official proceedings.
He is due to appear at the federal courthouse in Fort Lauderdale on Friday morning, according to Mueller’s office.
The indictment does not charge him with crimes directly related to Russia or with conspiracy to skew the 2016 election, but with what legal experts call ‘process crimes’ – lying to investigators and trying to tamper with their work.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders insisted Friday morning in a CNN interview that the Stone indictment ‘has nothing to do with the president and certainly nothing to do with the White House.’
Roger Stone, a former longtime close confidant of Donald Trump, was arrested Friday morning in Fort Lauderdale on seven charges including witness tampering as part of the Russia probe
CNN aired dramatic video o nFriday morning that showed the pre-dawn raid that resulted in Stone’s arrest
Agents wearing body armor and drawing their weapons swarmed Stone’s home in a posh south Florida neighborhood
Stone, whose political pedigree dates back to the Nixon administration, is accused of feeding information from Wikileaks about the DNC email hack to the Trump campaign during the 2016 election
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders insisted Friday morning on CNN that the Stone indictment has ‘nothing to do with the president and certainly nothing to do with the White House’
Sanders suggested that prominent Democrats and Obama administration officials have been guilty of the crimes for which Stone was charged.
‘I think the bigger question is if this is the standard, will the same standard apply to people like Hillary Clinton, James Comey, Clapper? Will we see the same people we know have also made false statements, will that same standard apply?’ she asked.
As Stone makes his court appearance another Trump ally – former campaign chairman Paul Manafort – will also be appearing in a Virginia courtroom.
Manafort, who has already been jailed for conspiracy, is facing new allegations that he lied to members of Mueller’s team while cooperating as part of his plea deal.
Stone, a former Nixon campaign adviser who has the disgraced former president’s face permanently tattooed on his back, has long been portrayed as a central figure in the election interference scandal, but as recently as January 4 told Dailymail.com that he doesn’t expect to be indicted.
‘They got nothing,’ he said of the special counsel’s investigation.
‘They’ve tried hard, but I didn’t do anything illegal. That’s why I’m not worried and I’ll do a public appearance like tonight’s without a problem.’
Mueller’s federal grand jury met on Thursday, a Justice Department source told DailyMail.com. That’s unusual, given the typical schedule of such grand juries.
The Justice Department source said the grand jury also met on a Thursday last July, the day before Mueller unsealed an indictment against a dozen Russian agents.
The indictment against Stone was unsealed Friday morning, just before he was arrested at his house
On CNN, Sanders refused to address whether Trump ‘directed’ Roger Stone to contact WikiLeaks
The indictment says that during the summer of 2016 Stone spoke to senior Trump campaign officials about information held by Wikileaks that might by damaging to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
That came as the Trump campaign shifted gears from a bruising primary season to months of general election fights against
The campaign official replied to Stone asking him to inquire about potential future release by Wikileaks, the indictment alleges.
The indictment directly quotes a Stone email to Breitbart News Washington Editor Matthew Boyle on October 3, 2016 in which he complains that he ‘would tell [the high-ranking Trump Campaign official]’ about his contacts with WikiLeaks, ‘but he doesn’t call me back.’
That matches, word-for-word, a Stone email cited by The New York Times in November 2018, which cites former Trump campaign CEO Steve Bannon by name instead of ‘the high-ranking Trump Campaign official.’
Messages sent Friday morning to Bannon, then a future White House senior adviser Steve Bannon, and his public relations adviser Alexandra Preate, who worked alongside him in the White House, went unanswered.
Manafort, now languishing in jail and facing a lengthy prison term for tax and bank fraud, may play a role in the Stone indictment.
It describes the aftermath of ‘the July 22, 2016 release of stolen DNC emails’ by WikiLeaks, and recounts how ‘a senior Trump Campaign official was directed to contact Stone’ to see if more releases were coming.
Bannon is widely understood to be that official. As the campaign’s CEO, he reported directly to Manafort.
Only Manafort and Donald Trump himself likely had the authority to ‘directed’ his actions.
The question of who gave that order will set off a new round of speculation about whether the president himself could be a Mueller target.
CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin speculated Friday morning that it ‘could be Donald Trump himself.’
On MSNBC’s ‘Morning Joe’ program, former CIA director John Brennan said the indictment shows ‘an extensive effort to influence the election’ that ‘may have gone to the very top of the Trump campaign.’ The question now, Brennan said, is whether that crossed ‘the threshold from collusion to criminal conspiracy.’
On CNN, Sanders stopped short of denying Trump was involved.
‘I’m not going to be able to provide you some type of insight or legal analysis,’ she said. ‘What I can tell you is that these specific charges that have been brought against Mr. Stone don’t have anything to do with the president.’
The indictment also indicates that Stone tasked another person, referred to as ‘Person 1,’ with contacting WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for him.
Breitbart News Washington Political Editor Matthew Boyle did not respond to emails on Friday morning. Friday’s indictment quotes an email exchange between Stone and a ‘reporter’ thought to be Boyle.
Stone is accused of making ‘multiple false statements’ about his contacts with Wikileaks, and wrongly denying having records of these conversations.
He is also accused of trying to persuade a witness ‘to provide false testimony to and withhold pertinent information from the investigations.’
The indictment accuses Stone of lying to a congressional panel in September 2017, telling House Intelligence Committee members that he had never asked an intermediary to contact Assange on his behalf.
‘I did not,’ he replied.
According to the indictment, he had by then asked two people to ‘get to’ Assange, forwarding a request for documents that could damage the Hillary Clinton campaign.
News reports have established that Stone sent similar emails to Jerome Corsi, a well-known conspiracy theorist whose relationship with Stone goes back decades.
Corsi said in November that he had declined a plea agreement from Mueller that would involve a guilty plea to lying about his discussions with Stone.
ROBERT MUELLER’S PROBE SO FAR: EIGHT CONVICTIONS – INCLUDING THREE TOP TRUMP AIDES, A JAILED ATTORNEY AND 25 RUSSIANS ACCUSED
GUILTY: MICHAEL FLYNN
Pleaded guilty to making false statements in December 2017. Awaiting sentence
Flynn was President Trump’s former National Security Advisor and Robert Mueller’s most senior scalp to date. He previously served when he was a three star general as President Obama’s director of the Defense Intelligence Agency but was fired.
He admitted to lying to special counsel investigators about his conversations with a Russian ambassador in December 2016. He has agreed to cooperate with the special counsel investigation.
GUILTY: MICHAEL COHEN
Pleaded guilty to eight counts including fraud and two campaign finance violations in August 2018. Pleaded guilty to further count of lying to Congress in November 2018. Sentenced to three years in prison and $2 million in fines and forfeitures in December 2018
Cohen was Trump’s longtime personal attorney, starting working for him and the Trump Organization in 2007. He is the longest-serving member of Trump’s inner circle to be implicated by Mueller. Cohen professed unswerving devotion to Trump – and organized payments to silence two women who alleged they had sex with the-then candidate: porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal. He admitted that payments to both women were felony campaign finance violations – and admitted that he acted at the ‘direction’ of ‘Candidate-1’: Donald Trump.
He also admitted tax fraud by lying about his income from loans he made, money from taxi medallions he owned, and other sources of income, at a cost to the Treasury of $1.3 million.
And he admitted lying to Congress in a rare use of the offense. The judge in his case let him report for prison on March 6 and recommended he serve it in a medium-security facility close to New York City.
GUILTY: PAUL MANAFORT
Found guilty of eight charges of bank and tax fraud in August 2018. Pleaded guilty to two further charges. Awaiting sentence
Manafort worked for Trump’s campaign from March 2016 and chaired it from June to August 2016, overseeing Trump being adopted as Republican candidate at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. He is the most senior campaign official to be implicated by Mueller. Manafort was one of Washington D.C.’s longest-term and most influential lobbyists but in 2015, his money dried up and the next year he turned to Trump for help, offering to be his campaign chairman for free – in the hope of making more money afterwards. But Mueller unwound his previous finances and discovered years of tax and bank fraud as he coined in cash from pro-Russia political parties and oligarchs in Ukraine.
Manafort pleaded not guilty to 18 charges of tax and bank fraud but was convicted of eight counts. The jury was deadlocked on the other 10 charges. A second trial on charges of failing to register as a foreign agent is due in September.
GUILTY: RICK GATES
Pleaded guilty to conspiracy against the United States and making false statements in February 2018. Awaiting sentence
Gates was Manafort’s former deputy at political consulting firm DMP International. He admitted to conspiring to defraud the U.S. government on financial activity, and to lying to investigators about a meeting Manafort had with a member of congress in 2013. As a result of his guilty plea and promise of cooperation, prosecutors vacated charges against Gates on bank fraud, bank fraud conspiracy, failure to disclose foreign bank accounts, filing false tax returns, helping prepare false tax filings, and falsely amending tax returns.
GUILTY AND JAILED: GEORGE PAPADOPOLOUS
Pleaded guilty to making false statements in October 2017. Sentenced to 14 days in September 2018, and reported to prison in November. Served 12 days and released on December 7, 2018
Papadopoulos was a member of Donald Trump’s campaign foreign policy advisory committee. He admitted to lying to special counsel investigators about his contacts with London professor Josef Mifsud and Ivan Timofeev, the director of a Russian government-funded think tank.
He has agreed to cooperate with the special counsel investigation.
GUILTY AND JAILED: RICHARD PINEDO
Pleaded guilty to identity fraud in February 2018. Sentenced to a year in prison
Pinedo is a 28-year-old computer specialist from Santa Paula, California. He admitted to selling bank account numbers to Russian nationals over the internet that he had obtained using stolen identities.
He has agreed to cooperate with the special counsel investigation.
GUILTY AND JAILED: ALEX VAN DER ZWAAN
Pleaded guilty to making false statements in February 2018. He served a 30-day prison sentence earlier this year and was deported to the Netherlands on his release
Van der Zwaan is a Dutch attorney for Skadden Arps who worked on a Ukrainian political analysis report for Paul Manafort in 2012.
He admitted to lying to special counsel investigators about when he last spoke with Rick Gates and Konstantin Kilimnik.
GUILTY: W. SAMUEL PATTEN
Pleaded guilty in August 2018 to failing to register as a lobbyist while doing work for a Ukrainian political party. Awaiting sentence
Patten, a long-time D.C. lobbyist was a business partner of Paul Manafort. He pleaded guilty to admitting to arranging an illegal $50,000 donation to Trump’s inauguration.
He arranged for an American ‘straw donor’ to pay $50,000 to the inaugural committee, knowing that it was actually for a Ukrainian businessman.
Neither the American or the Ukrainian have been named.
CHARGED: KONSTANTIN KILIMNIK
Indicted for obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice. At large, probably in Russia
Kilimnik is a former employee of Manafort’s political consulting firm and helped him with lobbying work in Ukraine. He is accused of witness tampering, after he allegedly contacted individuals who had worked with Manafort to remind them that Manafort only performed lobbying work for them outside of the U.S.
He has been linked to Russian intelligence and is currently thought to be in Russia – effectively beyond the reach of extradition by Mueller’s team.
INDICTED: THE RUSSIANS
Twenty-five Russian nationals and three Russian entities have been indicted for conspiracy to defraud the United States. They remain at large in Russia
Two of these Russian nationals were also indicted for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and 11 were indicted for conspiracy to launder money. Fifteen of them were also indicted for identity fraud.
Vladimir Putin has ridiculed the charges. Russia effectively bars extradition of its nationals. The only prospect Mueller has of bringing any in front of a U.S. jury is if Interpol has their names on an international stop list – which is not made public – and they set foot in a territory which extradites to the U.S.
INDICTED: MICHAEL FLYNN’S BUSINESS PARTNERS
Bijan Kian (left), number two in now disgraced former national security adviser Mike Flynn’s lobbying company, and the two’s business partner Ekim Alptekin (right) were indicted for conspiracy to lobby illegally. Kian is awaiting trial, Alptekin is still to appear in court
Kian, an Iranian-American was arrested and appeared in court charged with a conspiracy to illegally lobby the U.S government without registering as a foreign agent. Their co-conspirator was Flynn, who is called ‘Person A’ in the indictment and is not charged, offering some insight into what charges he escaped with his plea deal.
Kian, vice-president of Flynn’s former lobbying firm, is alleged to have plotted with Alptekin to try to change U.S. policy on an exiled Turkish cleric, Fethullah Gulen, who lives in Pennsylvania and who is accused by Turkey’s strongman president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, of trying to depose him.
Erdogan’s government wanted him extradited from the U.S. and paid Flynn’s firm through Alptekin for lobbying, including an op-ed in The Hill calling for Gulen to be ejected. Flynn and Kian both lied that the op-ed was not paid for by the Turkish government.
The indictment is a sign of how Mueller is taking an interest in more than just Russian involvement in the 2016 election.
Robert Mueller’s team also accuse Stone of trying to hide evidence of his contact with Wikileaks from investigators and trying to convince a witness to lie
Stone will appear in court Friday as Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, also appears before a judge accused of lying to Mueller’s team while cooperating with the probe
Stone has accused Mueller of harassment after the counsel’s sleuths tracked down and interviewed 19 of his friends and business associates.
‘My cleaning lady had to go back to Cuba for a while, so I hired a temp,’ Stone said.
‘The temp spoke only Spanish. I never knew her name or anything. Yet, government agents found her in Miami. They asked her if I was meeting with Russians at home.
‘Now, how they found her when I didn’t even know her name, I can only guess. I know she had nothing to say to them.’
He claims agents showed some of Stone’s friends a photo of the two-year-old boy born to Kristin Davis, the infamous Manhattan Madam whose prostitution service was used by disgraced former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer and, allegedly, the likes of retired baseball slugger Alex Rodriguez.
‘They kept asking if the baby was mine,’ the married Stone said. ‘What does that have to do with Russian collusion? The baby is not mine, I’m the godfather. But that’s an invasion of privacy if I’ve ever seen one.’
Being at the forefront of this political scandal has been ‘financially debilitating, to say the least,’ he says.
He’s been involved in a half dozen lawsuits that have resulted in up to $200,000 each in legal bills.
Preparing for his 2017 House testimony, when he was interviewed by the Intelligence Committee for four and half hours, also cost him $400,000, he said.