Political confidant pleads not guilty to Mueller charges

By James Wright
Nation & World Editor

On Jan. 25, FBI officials arrested longtime Republican political operative Roger Stone at his Florida home for lying to Congress, obstructing justice and witness tampering, according to NBC News.

Stone’s alleged crimes include covering up his involvement with the 2016 release of stolen Democratic National Committee emails by Wikileaks, according to NBC News.

Stone pleaded not guilty to felony charges in federal court on Jan. 29, The New York Times reported. Along with special counsel Robert Mueller’s team of investigators, prosecutors from the U.S. attorney’s office will try the case. This indicates a shift from Mueller’s case involving Russian interference in the 2016 election to the U.S. attorney’s office as the Russia investigation is winding down, according to The New York Times.

Stone does not plan to testify against Trump (Flickr).

Stone’s arrest has drawn the ire of some elected Republicans in the Senate and conservatives around the country. There were at least 12 FBI agents who arrested Stone in dramatic fashion in front of a large swath of television cameras as they wore shoulder weapons, body armor and fatigues. Some former FBI officials and federal prosecutors explained the unusual use of force by saying that Stone had the potential to destroy evidence if he was given a chance to surrender, according to The Washington Post.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who is also the Senate Judiciary chairman, is asking the FBI to explain why Stone was arrested and whether the media was tipped off beforehand, according to Politico.

“‘The American public has had enough of the media circus that surrounds the Special Counsel’s investigation,’” Graham said, according to Politico. “‘Yet, the manner of this arrest appears to have only added to the spectacle. Accordingly, I write to seek justification for the tactics used and the timing of the arrest of Mr. Stone.”’

President Donald Trump, in an interview on Jan. 30 with the conservative Daily Caller website, agreed with Graham about the FBI’s tactics in the raid of Stone’s house, saying he would “think about” asking the FBI to review its policies on the use of force in light of Stone’s arrest, The Washington Post reports.

Stone remains confident that he will be proven innocent in the court of law. He also refused the idea to testify against Trump, instead arguing that he will be “completely vindicated,” The New York Times reports.

“‘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,’” Stone said outside a courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, according to The New York Times.

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