Roger Stone, a conservative provocateur, was arrested in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe in a pre-dawn raid at his Florida home Friday — and it seems that CNN was practically invited along to record the whole thing.
Stone was charged with lying to Congress and obstructed the probe.
The seven-count indictment against Stone is the first criminal case in months from the probe. Stone’s lawyer immediately condemned the raid as an example of unnecessary strong arm tactics from the FBI meant to send a message of fear.
To back up their message, FBI insiders seemingly invited CNN producers to the scene record their raid and arrest.
The indictment does not charge Stone with conspiring with WikiLeaks, the anti-secrecy website that published the emails. It also does not state that Stone conspired with anyone from Russia.
Instead, it accuses him of witness tampering, obstruction and false statements about his interactions related to WikiLeaks’ release. Some of those false statements were made to the House intelligence committee, prosecutors allege.
CNN aired video of the raid at Stone’s Fort Lauderdale home, showing FBI agents in body armor using large weapons and night-vision equipment, running up to the home and banging repeatedly on the door.
“FBI open the door!” one shouts, which CNN producers highlight in the footage. “FBI, warrant!” Stone could then be seen in the doorway in his sleepwear before he was led away. He is expected to appear in court later Friday.
You can see the footage here —
The case against Stone comes weeks after Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, was castigated by a judge in open court and just hours before Paul Manafort, his ex-campaign chairman, was due in court on allegations that he had lied to Mueller’s prosecutors.
Mueller’s investigation has not accused the president of any wrongdoing, nor provided any evidence President Donald Trump had advance knowledge of the WikiLeaks trove.
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Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Trump’s press secretary, told CNN Friday the charges brought against Stone “don’t have anything to do with the president.”
Well-known for his political antics and hard ball tactics, Stone has been a Washington wheeler-dealer dating back to the Nixon administration.
Stone was one of Trump’s earliest political advisers, encouraging both his presidential runs. He briefly served on Trump’s 2016 campaign, but was pushed out amid infighting with then-campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.
But the indictment deals mostly with what prosecutors say were Stone’s false statements about his conversations with conservative writer Jerome Corsi, and New York radio host, Randy Credico. Corsi is referred to as Person 1 in the indictment, and Credico as Person 2.
The indictment had been expected, Stone’s lawyer said, which means the aggressive raid with FBI agents using large rifles and body armor was completely unnecessary.
Why CNN’s cameras were tipped off to practically join the early raid also remains unexplained.
Stone has said for months he was prepared to be charged, though he has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing. A grand jury for months had heard from witnesses connected to Stone. And the intelligence committee last year voted to release a transcript of Stone’s testimony to Mueller as a precursor to an indictment.
On Thursday, hours before his arrest, Stone posted on Instagram a photo of himself with Trump and the caption, “Proud of my President.” He also posted a screen shot of a CNN segment and complained that the network had found the “worst photo of me possible.”
Stone has publicly denigrated the Mueller investigation and echoed the president’s descriptions of it as a witch hunt. Stone has said he had no inside information about the contents of the emails in WikiLeaks’ possession or the timing of when they’d be released.
Stone has said he learned from Credico that WikiLeaks had the emails and planned to disclose them. Stone has also spoken openly about his contacts with Corsi.
Credico hasn’t been accused of any wrongdoing. Last year, Mueller’s prosecutors offered a plea agreement to Corsi that would have required him to admit that he intentionally lied to investigators about a discussion with Stone about WikiLeaks. But he rejected the offer and denied that he lied.
The Associated Press contributed to this article