Roger Stone, a longtime associate and confidant of President Donald Trump, was arrested during a pre-dawn raid at his home in Florida. Stone was indicted in the Robert Mueller probe on Russian collusion and he’s expected to be charged with lying to Congress and obstructing the investigation. Later on, Stone appeared in a press conference where he denied all these charges saying that he had been falsely accused. He also said that he will plead not guilty to all charges. Stone was later released on a $250,000 bond awaiting trial.
The president weighed in on the matter too reiterating his long-held position that this was nothing but a “witch hunt.” In a tweet sent after news of the arrest broke, Trump said that “border coyotes, human traffickers, and drug dealers” had been treated “better” than the way Stone was treated. The long term Trump confidant was indicted on seven counts and this is the first criminal case from the special counsel in months now.
The indictment documents provided a very detailed account of how the Trump campaign and its associates sought to actively benefit politically from the release of hacked materials from Hillary Clinton’s server. The documents also noted that a senior Trump campaign official had contacted Stone demanding to know when stolen emails relating to Clinton would be released. The emails were later published on WikiLeaks. The indictment doesn’t, however, link Stone to the Russian hackers who illegally acquired the emails. It simply said that in his testimony to the House Intelligence Committee, Stone lied about his links to WikiLeaks and what he knew about the emails.
The video of the raid was published by CNN and it showed a number of FBI agents at Stone’s doorway urging him to open the door. The team was heavily armed too with full body armor and night vision equipment. Stone then opened the door in his sleepwear before he was led away. The former Trump adviser is now the sixth close associate to be charged in the Mueller investigation. He’s also the 34th person in total to be indicted by the probe.
The Mueller team was appointed about two years ago and it’s looking at whether members of the Trump campaign colluded with Russian operatives during the 2016 election. The case against Stone follows in the path of another high profile indictment involving Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort. Manafort was also charged with lying to federal prosecutors during his testimony.
Media reports have noted a number of times that Stone was one of the earliest advisers to Trump when he launched his bid for the presidency. He also served briefly in Trump’s 2016 campaign but was pushed out due to infighting with the then campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. But Stone kept close communication with Trump and was one of the key advisers in his inner circle. A statement released by White House press secretary Sarah Sanders noted that the charges brought up against Stone have nothing to do with the President. Stone, just like the president, has been one of the most outspoken critics of the Mueller investigation since it started.