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January 25, 2019 9:53 am

Longtime Trump Ally Stone Arrested in US Special Counsel Probe

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Political operative Roger Stone speaks at the American Priority conference in Washington DC, Dec. 6, 2018. Photo: Reuters / Jim Urquhart / File.

US President Donald Trump’s longtime ally Roger Stone was arrested on Friday on charges of obstruction, witness tampering and making false statements related to the release of stolen Democratic Party emails during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Stone, an adviser to Trump in his unorthodox bid for the White House, was arrested in the predawn darkness on Friday and scheduled to appear at the federal courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, at 11 a.m. US Eastern time.

The indictment ends months of speculation that Stone would be charged as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 campaign to help Trump defeat Hillary Clinton.

Stone was charged with seven criminal counts accusing him of lying to Congress about his public statements and communications with others suggesting he may have had advance knowledge of plans by Wikileaks to release hacked emails.

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Grant Smith, Stone’s lawyer, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Stone has previously denied any wrongdoing. WikiLeaks, which is referred to as “Organization 1” in the indictment, did not respond to a request for comment.

The charging documents included new details about the activities of Trump aides, including an incident in which a senior campaign official “was directed to contact Stone about any additional releases and what other damaging information Organization 1 had regarding the Clinton Campaign.”

“The indictment was not unexpected, but it is still significant because it alleges coordination between the Trump Campaign and WikiLeaks,” said Barbara McQuade, a former US attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan.

Stone was charged with one count of obstruction of an official proceeding, five counts of making false statements and one count of witness tampering, according to the indictment. The charges relate to Stone’s testimony before congressional committees probing Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

CNN, in video of the arrest, showed a heavily-armed FBI team taking Stone away from his home in the dark just before 6 a.m. on Friday and Stone surrendering without any issue.

Michael Caputo, a longtime Stone associate and former Trump campaign adviser, said he expected Stone to fight the charges.

“This has been rumored to be coming down for several months, so Roger and his legal team are ready to fight these charges in court,” Caputo told Reuters. “They can’t prove collusion or conspiracy because it doesn’t exist, so they’re going after him personally. He will be vindicated.”

A self-described “agent provocateur” of the American right and Republican veteran of Washington and New York City politics, Stone has a tattoo of the face of late president Richard Nixon on his back. His political career began with the Nixon presidential campaign in 1972.

The indictment described in detail numerous emails and text messages “during the 2016 campaign in which he discussed Organization 1, its head, and its possession of hacked emails.”

Stone still possessed many of those communications when he gave false testimony about them, prosecutors said in the indictment.

He also tried to persuade a witness to provide false testimony and withhold information from the congressional investigations, the indictment said.

Senator Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, had no immediate comment, according to an aide. Representatives for the heads of the two congressional committees that interviewed Stone could not be immediately reached.

US prosecutors pointed to two other individuals, including an unnamed political commentator with an online publication who regularly spoke with Trump throughout the campaign, a description that matches Jerome Corsi. They also described a radio host who Stone had known for more than 10 years, which matches the profile of Randy Credico.

Corsi declined to comment and Credico did not immediately respond to request for comment. White House officials could not be immediately reached.

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