By Cortney O'Brien | Townhall
Photo:White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders
- Source: AP Photo/Andrew Harnik
Longtime Trump associate Roger Stone was arrested Thursday night for one count of obstruction, five counts of false statements and one count of witness tampering as part of the larger special counsel Russia investigation. The FBI raided his home and "terrorized" his family, Stone said outside a Florida courthouse Friday. He told a crowd of hecklers he plans to plead not guilty to the alleged crimes.
Of course, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders expected the press pool to ask her for her reaction to Stone's arrest. But she wasn't a fan of how some reporters framed their inquires, particularly the individual who suggested that President Trump encouraged Stone to lie to Congress.
Sanders on the charges against Roger Stone: "This doesn't have anything to do with the president"
Reporter: "Was the president encouraging false statements, obstruction, things that are charged in the indictment?"
Sanders: "That is probably one of the more ridiculous and insulting questions... frankly, it's just insulting, it's just not true"
Sanders had some questions of her own during her guest appearance on CNN Friday morning.
Sarah Sanders asks the correct question after Stone's indictment:
When will the FBI surround the homes of & arrest, "Hillary Clinton, James Comey, James Clapper? People we know have also made false statements [to the FBI] - will the same standard apply?"
“We’ll let the courts make the decision," she said. "A bigger question is: If this is the standard, will the same standard apply to people like Hillary Clinton, James Comey and [James] Clapper?”
Both Clinton and Comey have themselves been accused of making false statements to authorities.
In new Mueller indictment, what is Roger Stone charged with doing?
By Byron York | Washington Examiner
Count Four alleges that Stone lied when he said he did not ask Credico to communicate anything to Assange.
In fact Stone asked both Credico and Corsi to get in touch with Assange "to pass on requests ... for documents Stone believed would be damaging to the Clinton campaign."
Count Five alleges that Stone lied when he told the House that he and Credico did not communicate via text message or email about WikiLeaks.
Records show Stone told the committee the two talked over the phone, when in fact, according to the indictment, "Stone and [Credico] ... engaged in frequent written communications by email and text message."
Count Six alleges that Stone lied when he testified that he had never discussed his conversations with Credico with anyone at the Trump campaign.
In fact, "Stone spoke to multiple individuals involved in the Trump campaign about what he claimed to have learned from his intermediary to [WikiLeaks]."
Count Seven is a witness tampering charge, alleging that Stone tried to convince Credico to take the Fifth or to lie to the House committee.
The indictment does not allege that Stone had any direct communications with Assange, nor does it allege that Stone or anyone else at the Trump campaign had any direct communications with Assange or any foreknowledge of actions that WikiLeaks took.
At various times, Stone claimed to have foreknowledge — a hint that something big was up — but the indictment suggests that he did not, in fact, know what WikiLeaks was going to do.
The indictment does say there were communications between Stone and people in the Trump campaign related to WikiLeaks.
Of course, everyone in the world was talking about the WikiLeaks disclosures in the days following their publication.
The indictment says:
"After the July 22, 2016 release of stolen DNC emails by [WikiLeaks], a senior Trump campaign official was directed to contact Stone about any additional releases and what other damaging information [WikiLeaks] had regarding the Clinton campaign. Stone thereafter told the Trump campaign about potential future releases of damaging material by [WikiLeaks]."
There has already been much speculation about that passage.
The first thing to note is that it concerned the period after WikiLeaks' disclosure of DNC emails — no allegation of foreknowledge.
But what does "was directed" mean?
Does it mean that Donald Trump himself directed someone on his campaign to get in touch with Stone to find out what was going on? It could.
There's no doubt that everyone in the political world was trying to figure out what was going on in the days after release of the DNC emails. Were there more? About what? Were they going to be released?
Whoever the "was directed" person was, the Stone indictment, like all Mueller has issued until now, does not allege that there was a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia to influence the 2016 election.
The indictment also suggests that by October 2016, with the election fast approaching, the Trump campaign was no longer paying any attention to Stone. In one email, Stone said he would tell a top Trump campaign official about WikiLeaks, "but he doesn't call me back."
In the end, it appears Stone's big problem was his big mouth. He liked to brag about being behind all sorts of nefarious deeds when in fact he was not, or he had a tangential connection to them.
That led to this chain of events: 1) Stone bragged in public; 2) the House committee asked him about his bragging under oath; and 3) Mueller investigated the veracity of Stone's sworn testimony.
If Stone had not popped off about himself all the time, he probably would not have gotten himself in trouble.
Stone presented a pretty accurate picture of himself in an interview last November with CNN's Michael Smerconish.
"What I have done here is perfectly legal," Stone said. "I took a solid tip and entirely public information, it could be gleaned from the WikiLeaks Twitter feed and by setting a Google News Alert on Julian Assange and reading every interview, to hype and punk and promote and posture and bluff the Democrats."
The problem came when Stone was asked under oath about his statements.
It is one thing to hype and punk and promote and posture and bluff when talking to the press, but another to hype and punk and promote and posture and bluff when testifying under oath to a congressional committee.
Roger Stone knows that now.