Months ago, I wrote about how Special Counsel Robert Mueller was clearly gunning for Stone with an increasing intensity (here and here and here). Stone was arrested early Friday morning in another signature raid on his home by the FBI. Once again, as with the treatment of Paul Manafort, it is unclear why prosecutors wanted to have a night raid on his home (captured by awaiting media) for non-violent crimes. It was entirely unnecessary in my view. The criminal counts themselves are additional counts of false statements and witness tampering. These type of process crimes are the majority of charged conduct against non-Russians in the investigation other than the unrelated crimes against figures like Manafort.
The indictment contained the vintage language of Stone with other witnesses, attacking those deemed weak while encouraging others to stonewall.
On or about November 19, 2017, in a text message to STONE, Person 2 said that his lawyer wanted to see him (Person 2). STONE responded, “‘Stonewall it. Plead the fifth. Anything to save the plan’ . . . Richard Nixon.”
It is a weird comment even for a guy with a tattoo of Richard Nixon since Nixon was destroyed by precisely such conduct.
Notably, there are no charges in the indictment that accuse Stone of colluding with the Russians or the hacking of the email systems. Stone suggested to others that he was the conduit of hacked information from Wikileaks but he later insisted that he was not actually speaking to Julian Assange and that he had no direct knowledge that Russians were responsible for the Democratic hackings.
The indictment is largely on false statements but those statements seem to overlap and confirm the occurrence of communications. :
STONE testified falsely that he did not have
emails with third parties about the head of
Organization 1, and that he did not have any
documents, emails, or text messages that refer
to the head of Organization 1.
STONE testified falsely that his August 2016
references to being in contact with the head of
Organization 1 were references to
communications with a single “go-between,”
“mutual friend,” and “intermediary,” who
STONE identified as Person 2.
STONE testified falsely that he did not ask the
person he referred to as his “go-between,”
“mutual friend,” and “intermediary,” to
communicate anything to the head of
Organization 1 and did not ask the
intermediary to do anything on STONE’s
STONE testified falsely that he and the person
he referred to as his “go-between,” “mutual
friend,” and “intermediary” did not
communicate via text message or email about
STONE testified falsely that he had never
discussed his conversations with the person he
referred to as his “go-between,” “mutual
friend,” and “intermediary” with anyone
involved in the Trump Campaign.
The Special Counsel likely knows about those communications and does not allege anything criminal in the communications themselves.
The indictment does reference a senior Trump campaign official was directed to contact Stone about possible Wikileaks information. The indictment clearly states that Stone told multiple campaign officials that he had such information and the question is who “directed” campaign officials to reach out to Stone. Obviously, many will want to know if that person was President Trump or his close aides. On the other hand, it also references people like Steve Bannon as not even returning his calls.
Nothing in this indictment contradicts that latter account. This conduct involves false statements, obstruction, and witness tampering. Unlike Cohen who was allowed to correct false statements, Mueller charged every possible alleged crime. This will make for an interesting defense as Stone cites his public reputation for spinning and conning the media.
Some of the language is so over-the-top that it may appear less than credible to a jury as an actual threat as opposed to Stone’s signature vernacular. In one communication, the indictment recounts the following:
On or about April 9, 2018, STONE wrote in an email to Person 2, “You are a rat. A stoolie. You backstab your friends-run your mouth my lawyers are dying Rip you to shreds.” STONE also said he would “take that dog away from you,” referring to Person 2’s dog. On or about the same day, STONE wrote to Person 2, “I am so ready. Let’s get it on. Prepare to die [expletive].”
The defense can call Person 2 and ask how that statement was taken or understood while also pointing to similarly outlandish statements in public. Like much else in Stone’s world, this will make for a fascinating trial.
Here is the indictment: Stone Indictment