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Defiant Stone Says He'll Plead Not Guilty

Trump ally also gave his first post-indictment interview: to Infowars' Alex Jones
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 25, 2019 12:10 PM CST
Updated Jan 25, 2019 2:32 PM CST

(Newser) – As the dust starts to settle after the morning arrest and indictment of Roger Stone on obstruction, witness tampering, and other charges, the 66-year-old Trump ally made a defiant appearance Friday outside a Fort Lauderdale courthouse, complete with an imitation of Richard Nixon's famous "victory" pose (you may have already known that Stone has a Nixon tattoo on his back). "I will plead not guilty to these charges, I will defeat them in court," said Stone, who was released on $250,000 bond, per CNN. "I believe this is a politically motivated investigation." It also appears he'll stay loyal to Trump as Robert Mueller's Russia probe continues. "There is no circumstance whatsoever under which I will bear false witness against the president, nor will I make up lies to ease the pressure on myself," he said, per ABC News and Axios. Details and developments:

  • Infowars: Stone also granted his first post-indictment interview—to Infowars' Alex Jones. "Twenty-nine FBI agents showed up at my home, pounded on the door," Stone told Jones in their half-hour phone call, per the Washington Times. "I opened the door to pointed automatic weapons. I was handcuffed. There were, I don’t know, 17 vehicles in the street with lights on. They terrorized my wife and my dogs."
  • Video: See video of the arrest here.
  • The crux of the indictment: Stone's contacts with the Trump campaign regarding WikiLeaks, aka "Organization 1," per NBC News. One note in the indictment that's caught people's attention: "“After the July 22, 2016 release of stolen DNC 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." People are speculating on who did the "directing."

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  • Some background: Vox offers a more comprehensive explainer on events leading up to Friday's indictment, with a special focus on the summer of 2016. What it doesn't do, however, is answer everyone's questions: "That could still come later—or perhaps they don't have sufficient evidence to show it."
  • Eyebrow-raising texts and emails: Reuters notes that Stone's 24-page indictment is among the more "colorful" that the special counsel has offered, including alleged threats that Stone made to an unnamed associate. Stone reportedly called the associate a "rat," "fool," and "stoolie" (ostensibly for "stool pigeon"), warned that he would come after the associate's dog, and noted, "I am so ready. Let’s get it on. Prepare to die [expletive]."
  • Pop culture citation: One message also tells the associate to "do a Frank Pentangeli"—referring to a character in The Godfather Part II who refuses to testify in front of Congress. Bloomberg notes the friend appears to be radio host Randy Credico.
  • Meh: At USA Today, an op-ed by Jonathan Turley makes the case that the arrest is less than it appears. "The raid on Stone’s home clearly made for great television, but the Stone indictment hardly makes for a great collusion case," he writes. "Let’s be honest. After more than a year of investigation, Mueller nailed a gadfly on false statements, witness tampering and obstruction rather than illegal collusion with Russia."
  • 'An abundance of contradiction': That's just one of the four main takeaways Aaron Blake of the Washington Post picked up from the indictment, with the discrepancies coming from Stone. Blake also notes there's no "smoking gun" on the Trump campaign's culpability—"but the indictment does make clear (repeatedly) that the campaign was interested in the WikiLeaks information—and even sought the information from Stone—over a span of months."
  • White House: In a CNN appearance cited by HuffPost, press secretary Sarah Sanders said Stone's indictment "has nothing to do with the president. ... This is something that has to do solely with that individual, not something that affects us in this building."
  • Trump: Trump himself stayed relatively mum, save for one tweet before noon. "Greatest Witch Hunt in the History of our Country! NO COLLUSION! Border Coyotes, Drug Dealers and Human Traffickers are treated better. Who alerted CNN to be there?" That last part was apparently in reference to CNN having exclusive footage outside Stone's house at his pre-dawn arrest.
  • So why was CNN there? The network pushed back at the president, and at others whispering that someone must've leaked about Stone's arrest. Per CNN, there were just two of its staff "staking out" Stone's home, and the pair were there only because they'd noticed a flurry of activity by the special counsel and figured Stone might be a target, the Hill reports. "That’s called journalism," CNN replied directly to the president's tweet.
(Read more Roger Stone stories.)

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