Ex-Trump confidant, Roger Stone enters not guilty plea in Russia probe
Roger Stone, a longtime Republican campaign adviser and confidant of President Donald Trump, pleaded not guilty Tuesday morning to seven criminal charges of false statements, witness tampering and obstruction of justice.
Special counsel Robert Mueller and the US attorney for the District of Columbia have accused Stone of lying to congressional investigators about his communications regarding WikiLeaks’ publication of stolen emails meant to damage Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in 2016. In one charge, he is accused of threatening a contact of his whose congressional testimony about WikiLeaks would contradict Stone’s.
The indictment also describes how Stone allegedly coordinated with top Trump campaign officials about his outreach to WikiLeaks.
The scene in the courtroom was muted, as Stone was surrounded by several members of the Mueller team that he has spent nearly two years attacking publicly.
Stone quietly answered the judge’s questions with, “Yes, your honor.” And when asked to swear that he would follow the bail conditions, he said, “I do.”
No changes were made to Stone’s bail, which had been set last Friday after his arrest at $250,000 and his travel is limited to Florida, New York, Virginia and Washington, DC.
Before the arraignment began, Stone repeatedly pursued the gallery, surveying the pews filled with reporters and members of the public. During the hearing, he focused on the proceedings but did occasionally glance back at the room, which was mostly full.
Stone’s next appearance in court will be Friday before District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who is handling several of the major Mueller cases, including the guilty plea of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
Stone has already appeared in federal court once in Florida, following his early morning arrest at his Fort Lauderdale home. A swarm of armed FBI agents had surprised him at 6 a.m. Friday because of a fear he might flee or destroy evidence.
Stone, a colorful political operative who’s taken several opportunities to flash President Richard Nixon’s “V for victory” hand signals, said Friday he would “plead not guilty to these charges.”
He then did the rounds of TV interviews on major media outlets. On Monday, he sent an email newsletter as a pitch to raise money for his legal expenses, which continues his approach this year of selling T-shirts and signed rocks for the same cause.
Stone became the 34th person charged by Mueller. Of those people, seven have pleaded guilty — with many, especially those who worked closely with Trump, agreeing to help investigators. Twenty-six indicted Russians have not appeared in US court to enter pleas.
Only one other defendant — the Russian company Concord Management and Consulting — is currently attempting to fight Mueller’s charges.