“Everybody Must Get Stone”: Mueller Moves Closer To The Possible Indictment Of Trump Confidant

Below is my column in The Hill newspaper on the next possible wave of indictments and specifically the targeting of Roger Stone.  This includes possible charges of false statements and more recent indications that Mueller is mulling witness tampering charges.  As Mueller prepares what may be his final set of indictments, there remains the absence of a direct U.S. figure connecting Trump to any collusion with Russia.  With Stone and former associate Jerome Corsi expecting indictments, there is a reasonable question of whether Mueller has truly run down a major figure or whether he is merely shooting the wounded at this point in his investigation.

Here is the column:

With special counsel Robert Mueller reportedly working on his final report, his staff continues to call witnesses and gather evidence before a grand jury. Mueller clearly is still trying to build a case, and the most obvious target is Roger Stone, longtime Republican activist and Trump supporter.

Indeed, Mueller seems to have given his staff a Bob Dylanesque order that “everybody must get Stone.” He has called in more than a dozen witnesses connected to Stone over the course of at least 16 months. One Stone associate, Jerome Corsi, said this week that he expects to be indicted. Mueller reportedly is pressing them on Stone’s communications with Julian Assange, the head of Wikileaks, and his possible prior knowledge of the hacked Democratic emails during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Andrew Miller, who Stone described as his “wing man,” is in court this week fighting a subpoena by challenging the legality of Mueller’s appointment. Miller, who now paints homes for a living, is refusing to testify before the grand jury. A house painter is hardly the cover up that Mueller was seeking. He is clearly after Stone. Yet, Stone would not seem a prize worth the powder being expended by Mueller. He is a provocateur and braggart who relishes media attention and once declared, “Politics with me isn’t theater. It’s performance art sometimes for its own sake.”

Stone’s performance on Wikileaks may be one improv that he soon will regret. Yet, for Mueller, it may end up as impressive as shooting an annoying mime in Central Park. Stone often appears rambling on television and regularly attacks his former associates. Nevertheless, his value may be to give Mueller a tangential, if comical, Trump figure connected to the actual hacking. Despite more than 100 criminal charges against 32 individuals, Mueller has largely charged American defendants with collateral or wholly unrelated crimes from his original mandate. The exceptions are Russian hackers who are unlikely ever to see the inside of an American court. While Stone suggests that he had advanced notice of the Wikileaks material and direct contact with Assange, he now insists that he simply relied on published accounts.

The best case for Mueller would be to show that Stone was the intermediary to the Russians or Wikileaks in a hacking conspiracy. Given his erratic behavior and penchant for hyperbole, Stone would not seem to be an ideal conspirator but we do not know the full extent of evidence acquired from all of these witnesses. In the end, Stone could prove to be the only game left in town. For all of these deals, Mueller has no core collusion or obstruction charge to show for his efforts. He handed out plea bargains to an array of defendants, including a couple of the high profile duds. He cut a deal with Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, only to later demand the harshest possible sentence under the deal because of a lack of meaningful evidence. While Mueller demanded six months, Papadopoulos was sentenced to a mere 14 days.

Mueller may have another dud with Paul Manafort. Mueller reportedly is threatening to scuttle the sentencing deal because Manafort has not supplied particularly useful evidence. For Stone and other possible targets, those duds only make their positions all the more precarious. Few key figures remain and, with all of the plea agreements, it is like playing musical chairs with all of the seats occupied. While Stone has cooperated and turned over evidence, he may be the best available target.

Stone is not the only one without a chair, however. Two other figures are potential targets. The first, obviously, is Trump himself. The Wall Street Journal reported that an indictment on campaign finance violations was drawn up against Trump “fixer” Michael Cohen before Cohen took a plea bargain. It also revealed evidence that Trump was directly involved in the arrangement of the hush money payments despite his later public denials. Yet, even assuming that Mueller has enough evidence to charge President Trump with a campaign finance violation, he is unlikely to do so. While some of us have long maintained that a sitting president can be indicted, the Justice Department has a policy against such indictments.

Moreover, the alleged violation involving payments of hush money to a former porn star and a Playboy bunny would be both hard to prosecute and far removed from Mueller’s original mandate. To spend two years investigating Russian collusion only to prosecute Trump for a marginal campaign finance violation would be a glaring shortfall. The more likely target might actually be Donald Trump Jr. who, in contrast to President Trump, has given extensive statements under oath and to investigators. That presents the maximum exposure for the type of false statement charges that Mueller has used against former national security adviser Michael Flynn and other Trump associates. Indicting Trump Jr. last would also make strategic sense. It is anyone’s guess how President Trump would react to his son’s indictment, but it likely would not be subtle. He could move against Mueller or issue a rash of pardons.

If Mueller ends up with Stone as the only person charged with collusion, he would need to show more than Stone’s described “performance art” on emails and social media. Otherwise, it looks less like Watergate special prosecutor Leon Jaworski going after Attorney General John Mitchell but indicting Martha Mitchell. Of course, Stone could prove to be Mueller’s criminal genius as opposed to Trump’s court jester. That, however, would require a departure from Mueller’s prior filings saying that he had no evidence of anyone knowingly assisting or interacting with Russians behind the hacking efforts. If Stone was not in the conspiracy with the Russians, he would be accused of seeking hacked emails after the fact, which could raise free speech and associational defenses.

None of this has slowed the line of Stone witnesses heading into the grand jury as Mueller makes his final push in the investigation. Stone once said, “If you’re not controversial, you’ll never break through the din of all the commentary.” The next few weeks will determine if he succeeded in breaking through the din, only to land himself in a federal dock.

Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University. You can follow him on Twitter @JonathanTurley.

90 thoughts on ““Everybody Must Get Stone”: Mueller Moves Closer To The Possible Indictment Of Trump Confidant”

  1. The interminable “Liberal Inquisition” is a destructive and irrational “witch hunt.”

    China is moving forward economically and militarily approaching their goal of world domination.

    Dependents, the “poor” and women are not “entitled” to vote in China.

    China doesn’t focus and expend resources on incoherence, hysteria and parasitism.

    Ironically, the American Founders severely restricted suffrage requiring voters to be Male, European, 21 with 50 lbs. Sterling or 50 acres,

    clearing the land and building a great nation from sea to shining sea.

    What fresh hell; what liberal psychosis conquered America?

  2. Roger Stone is next boogeyman up for Muler witch hunt. So obvious. Great white hope for lefty loon’s like Late4Yoga, Hillary Clinton, Adam “Shify” Shift and rest of Dems who got no game except for hate and excuse-making.

      1. it shows how mueller is already experienced in harming the public through his mishandling of law enforcement resources.

        and he’s still at it now. really pathetic. strip the budget down so far that he has to run his own copy machine and file his papers in the trunk of his own car, and then let’s see how far it goes.

        did you know Mueller mishandled the big racketeering trial against Sonny Barger and the Hell’s Angels? Yep. Another one in which Mueller mishandled informants up to their eyeballs in dirty business and embarrassed the government in a botched case

        http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-mueller-record-20171122-story.html

        then the anthrax investigation. how did this guy ever advance? must have been his prep school manners and successful showing in the service. after that, all downhill.
        shows how difficult it is to manage the bureaucracy if nothing else

  3. Roger Stone is considered a libertine.
    However, he is in step with liberal Europe on the question of sex work
    Here is a fascinating study of the status of sex work laws in Europe

    https://www.statista.com/chart/16090/policy-models-regarding-prostitution-in-the-eu/

    Legalization of sex work reduces exploitation of sex workers by pimps, unsavory customers, and unethical law enforcement alike, and frees social resources for more important law enforcement priorities

    it’s hard to understand why in America where every kind of pornographic smut is available to minors on their cell phones, if a willing adult man and woman exchange sexual conduct for money, it requires criminal incarceration— that is of course, unless the thing is part of a porn film, in which case it’s “protected by 1st amendement” as a matter of law

    1. The RNC has already filed a request for any relevant (and public) records:

      Michael Avenatti

      Verified account

      As if there was a doubt politics was involved, there can now be none. And once again, to be clear, I HAVE NOT been charged with anything regardless of what the RNC may be wishing for.

      [California Public Records Request made by RNC]

      2:27 PM – 15 Nov 2018

      https://twitter.com/MichaelAvenatti/status/1063196846464557057

      Also Anonymous

  4. I have a big problem that Mueller’s directive was to investigate Russian meddling in the election, and instead, he ignored the one person (Hillary Clinton) who was proven to have worked with the Russians to meddle in our election, and instead has indicted those associated with Trump for things like tax evasion. That is not his mandate. He has also hunted Trump associates to charge them with something, anything, none of which had anything to do with working directly with the Russians to defraud the American public.

    America did not vote for Trump because the Russians tricked them into it. They voted for him because Hilary Clinton was an untrustworthy criminal who got away with breaking the law, sold her social favors to foreign actors, and because Trump was the antithesis of the establishment. The middle class was ignored by the Liberal elite. They didn’t care that they lost people like me our health insurance, and made the replacement unaffordable and not accepted in most establishments, thereby cutting off our access to quality healthcare. And they didn’t care that the poor suffered in the bad economy. The Left sold nothing but pure hatred for conservatives, while conservatives just want the opportunity to prosper for everyone.

    Republicans’ inability to repeal and replace Obamacare, when that was the first issue Trump tackled out of the gate, as well as their limited progress on the wall hurt them in the House midterms. Trump was the only candidate running who was willing to push hard for healthcare reform and securing our border, regardless of how non-PC those issues were. The Left has been unable to accept the results of the election ever since.

    It’s not like Democrats have been civil to conservatives over the decades. I find this pearl clutching to be insincere, due to the nature of the discourse among politicians and the mainstream media in regard to conservatives. They seem gobsmacked that someone is turning the same rhetoric on them. Personally, I would prefer more calm in political discourse, and less ad hominem. But there are many conservatives who cheer on Trump because they are tired of being called every name in the book in the Alinsky strategy of demonizing opponents.

    The question before voters every 2 years will be, do you care most of all who is the smoothest and most polite to their own party, or do you care about the most pressing issues facing America today? Do you want unlimited illegal immigration, with 7 billion people watching to see whether our immigration laws will fall, or do you want us to stand firm and force migrants to respect our immigration laws and go through the system if they want to come here, period. Do you want sanctuary cities to attract and harbor criminal illegal aliens, protecting rapists and murderers from deportation, or do you want the rule of law?

    Lately, you can count on the Democratic Party to oppose the rule of law. They oppose free speech, the 2nd Amendment, immigration laws, ICE, voter ID, any effort to combat voter fraud, and the police in general. They didn’t used to be that way. Combating illegal immigration used to be a cornerstone of their platform, because it harmed the working class and entry level job market the most. Now they take the vote of the African American for granted, and have moved on in their affections to the Latino vote. They will do anything and everything to get it, because the Latino vote irrevocably change the political makeup of California from Red to Blue. Once they’ve stitched up the Latino vote, so they will keep voting Democrat for a hundred years, they will ignore them and move on to the next victim class to exploit.

    1. Donald Trump represented the protest candidate that America needs every once in a while to keep the political class and career politicians in check and at bay; Messrs. Schwarzenegger and Ventura being two prominent examples.

      Those who do succeed usually receive more than their fair share of vilification by democrat and republican politicians and their useful sycophants during their entire tenure.

      1. Darren, Schwarzenegger was essentially a Democrat during his fully elected term. But he couldn’t accomplish much because Republicans still had some power in the state legislature. They don’t anymore.

  5. Everybody Must Get Stoned……Skunk Weed Mueller Investigation

    “Skunk weed” is marijuana or cannabis considered to have the most powerful THC of all. It smells like a skunk when burned. After users/dealers smokes this stuff, they will not know what planet there’re on.

    There are side effects: Schizophrenics, Violence, Suicide & (nerve fiber) brain damage

    The question is….Has Rob Mueller smoked Skunk Weed?

    1. he looks like he’s soaked his brain in scotch for decades now. i put him down as a 95% likely scotchaholic. he is a Marine for starters. then he went to Ivy Leagues and prep school. Make that 99% likely. guys like this don’t smoke weed.

        1. Not Stone Im saying Mueller is a scotchaholic. we know Stone is for legalization,. i dont know that he smokes. i dont smoke but im for legalizaion

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