Longtime Trump Ally Roger Stone Indicted On 7 Counts In Mueller Investigation
SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
Now to the indictment of Roger Stone, President Trump's longtime friend and adviser. Mr. Stone was arrested early yesterday at his home in Florida and spent the day and well into the evening vowing to fight the charges. NPR justice reporter Ryan Lucas joins us. Ryan, thanks so much for being with us.
RYAN LUCAS, BYLINE: Good morning, Scott.
SIMON: Well, you were busy also.
SIMON: And let's remind ourselves now - seven counts against Roger Stone. What are they?
LUCAS: Well, one for obstruction of an official proceeding, one count of witness tampering and then the remaining five counts relate to alleged false statements that Stone made to congressional investigators. In broad brush strokes, what this indictment alleges is that Trump campaign officials directed Stone to get into contacts with WikiLeaks to find out what sort of hack Democratic emails the organization had and what its plans were for releasing them. Remember; it was WikiLeaks that published thousands of stolen Democratic emails. The U.S. government says Russia provided those emails to WikiLeaks.
The indictment also alleges that Stone later took steps to try to keep secret the details of his efforts to be in contact with WikiLeaks. It is important, though, to say one thing of what this indictment does not say and that is that Stone has not been charged with conspiring with Russia or with WikiLeaks.
SIMON: Which presents the question, based on your experience, how do you see this arrest and these indictments fitting in with the rest of the Mueller investigation?
LUCAS: Well, Stone is the sixth Trump associate to be charged by Mueller in this investigation. He's the 34th individual overall. Mueller has documented over the course of his investigation multiple contacts that Trump associates had with Russians or with Russian proxies. Now, with this Stone indictment, Mueller is providing the most detailed account to date of contacts that people associated with the Trump campaign allegedly had with WikiLeaks. And Stone emerges in this indictment as an intermediary of sorts between WikiLeaks and the campaigns. Stone has denied any such role publicly.
But looking ahead, there's a line in this indictment that really grabbed my attention, and that's this - it says a senior Trump campaign official was directed to get in touch with Stone about what WikiLeaks had and when it would release it. That official is not identified, but the bigger question, Scott, is who directed that senior official to contact Stone?
SIMON: And, of course, the president and Roger Stone have a longtime personal relationship, right? So a lot of people have to look at the possibility that that's what that means.
LUCAS: That is what some people may interpret that to mean, but the thing is, we don't know at this point.
SIMON: I got to ask - Roger Stone spent much of Friday night giving exclusive interviews (laughter) - a couple of exclusive interviews at least to Tucker Carlson on Fox, Chris Cuomo on CNN. Attorneys usually customarily advise people who just get indicted don't talk to anybody...
SIMON: ...Much less do national interviews on TV. What - can you begin to help us understand what those interviews were aimed at?
LUCAS: Well, you're right. This is not usual. This is not standard from a defendant. But Roger Stone is not your standard or usual defendant. Stone loves this sort of political fight, I've been told. He relishes it, the spectacle, the scene. And, remember; he's also been saying for months that he expects to be indicted. He's been sending emails, doing videos asking for donations to help fund his defense. And actually yesterday, right after his court hearing, he was interviewed on infowars.com. He explicitly asked people to send donations. So we may see a lot of this from Roger Stone in the months to come.
SIMON: He's going to come to Washington, D.C., too, isn't he?
LUCAS: That's right. His first court hearing was in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. He will be arraigned in Washington, D.C., this upcoming week on Tuesday. So the sort of spectacle that we saw on the courthouse steps in Florida on Friday, that whole Stone circus is coming to D.C.
SIMON: NPR justice reporter Ryan Lucas, thanks so much for being with us.
LUCAS: Thank you.
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