WASHINGTON (CN) – Indicting former Trump campaign adviser Roger Stone on Friday, Special Counsel Robert Mueller accused the longtime political operative of obstruction of an official proceeding, lying to Congress and witness tampering.
The grand jury indictment, which was unsealed after Stone’s predawn arrest in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, says Stone lied to the House Intelligence Committee about his interactions with WikiLeaks, which is identified as “Organization 1” throughout the document.
The 24-page indictment says Stone told Trump campaign officials in the summer of 2016 that WikiLeaks had information that could be damaging to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. It was that summer that the radical transparency group began releasing a trickle of hacked documents from the Democratic National Committee, and later released emails stolen from Clinton campaign chair John Podesta.
After Stone told the campaign about the documents, an official with the Trump campaign was told to contact Stone about future releases, a request Stone obliged.
Stone, represented by Florida attorney Grant Smith, was released on a $250,000 bond Friday. He declared his innocence in a brief press conference held outside the Ft. Lauderdale federal courthouse after his release.
“As I have always said, the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about,” Stone told a throng of reporters, supporters and protesters on the steps of the courthouse.
“After a two-year inquisition, the charges today relate in no way to Russian collusion, WikiLeaks collaboration or any other illegal act in connection with the 2016 campaign,” he continued. “I am falsely accused of making false statements during my testimony to the House Intelligence Committee. That is incorrect. Any error I made in my testimony would be both immaterial and without intent.”
Stone, continually smiling while addressing the raucous crowd, described the raid at his Ft. Lauderdale home as unnecessary.
“This morning at the crack of dawn, 29 FBI agents arrived at my home with 17 vehicles with their lights flashing, when they simply could have contacted my attorneys and I would have been more than willing to surrender voluntarily,” he said. “They terrorized my wife, my dogs.”
Amid shouts of “lock him up” from protesters and chants of “USA! USA!” from supporters, Stone reiterated his innocence.
“I will plead not guilty to these charges,” he said. “I will defeat them in court. I believe this is a politically motivated investigation. I am troubled by the political motivations of the prosecutors. And as I have said previously, 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.”
Earlier Friday, Stone had appeared in federal court before U.S. Magistrate Judge Lurana Snow, wearing a blue polo shirt and heavily shackled, according to local news reports. In addition to the $250,000 bond, Stone’s travel is restricted to South Florida, New York and Washington, D.C., where he will be arraigned next week.
He must also surrender his passport.
After his remarks, Stone walked back up the courthouse steps, turned around and gave the “double-V” sign, reminiscent of his favorite politician, former President Richard Nixon.
President Donald Trump responded to Stone’s indictment by referring to Mueller’s probe as the “greatest witch hunt in the history of our country.”
“NO COLLUSION,” Trump tweeted Friday. “Border coyotes, drug dealers and human traffickers are treated better.”
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders separately said Friday the Stone indictment is disconnected from the Trump administration.
“This doesn’t have anything to do with the president, doesn’t have anything to do with the White House,” Sanders told reporters.
As the indictment notes, Stone has publicly stated he was in contact with WikiLeaks during the campaign.
The indictment also references two unnamed people who helped Stone interact with WikiLeaks leader Julian Assange. Person 1 is described as a “political commentator who worked with an online media publication” in 2016, while Person 2 is a “radio host who had known Stone for more than a decade.”
Person 1 is believed to be right-wing author Jerome Corsi, and Person 2 is thought to be radio host Randy Credico. Credico had Assange on his radio show on Aug. 25, 2016, matching dates referenced in the indictment.
According to the indictment, Stone told Corsi to “get to” Assange, who has been living at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since 2012, seeking asylum. Corsi eventually wrote back telling Stone about WikiLeaks’ timeline for new releases, as well as suggesting he start discussing Clinton’s health.
“Would not hurt to start suggesting HRC old, memory bad, has stroke – neither he nor she well,” Corsi said in an email, according to the indictment. “I expect that much of the next dump focus, setting stage for foundation debacle.”
But when it came time for Stone to go before the House Intelligence Committee in September 2017, Stone said he had no documents relevant to the committee’s investigation or his interactions with WikiLeaks. He also downplayed the extent of his interactions with WikiLeaks through his intermediaries.
The indictment alleges Stone put pressure on Credico to mislead Congress about his involvement in Stone’s communications with WikiLeaks. Stone told Credico to pull a “Frank Pentangeli,” a reference to a character in “The Godfather: Part II” who lies to Congress.
Credico eventually asserted the Fifth Amendment on Dec. 12, 2017, after Stone said he would be a “fool” to testify before Congress.
An attorney for Stone did not immediately return a request for comment on the indictment, nor has Credico responded to a request yet this morning.
Corsi, a conspiracy theorist whose publishings include “Where’s the Birth Certificate?: The Case That Barack Obama Is Not Eligible to Be President,” is separately suing Mueller in Washington. His attorney in that case, Larry Klayman, declined to comment on Stone’s indictment.
The indictment was filed in the U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia, and Stone is scheduled to make his initial appearance before a federal judge in Fort Lauderdale later today.
Stone has a long history working in Republican politics and launched a lobbying firm along with former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort in 1980. Manafort is also a target of Mueller’s probe, having pleaded guilty to multiple charges after a federal jury in Virginia convicted him last year of tax and bank fraud.