Quigley calls com­mu­ta­tion of Stone’s sen­tence ‘scary’

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Area­son Roger Stone was in­dicted — later con­victed by a jury — only to have Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump com­mute his sen­tence on Fri­day was in part be­cause of lies he told while grilled by House In­tel­li­gence panel mem­ber Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., who honed his cross-ex­am­i­na­tion skills as a de­fense at­tor­ney at 26th and Cal­i­for­nia.

Be­fore Quigley was in Congress and be­fore he was a Cook County Board mem­ber, his pri­vate de­fense prac­tice kept him busy at the crim­i­nal court build­ing on the West Side.

At 26th and Cal, Quigley said,

“You learn a wit­ness quickly, and you learn how to get to the point. Af­ter a cou­ple hun­dred tri­als and mo­tions, you learn how to get an an­swer.”

For Stone, “I think for him, what got him in trou­ble was his own ego,” Quigley said when we talked this week­end about the up­roar trig­gered by Trump’s com­mu­ta­tion — and Quigley’s role in the case.

Stone ap­peared be­fore the House Per­ma­nent Se­lect Com­mit­tee on In­tel­li­gence on Sept. 26, 2017 — with Quigley, a mem­ber of the panel since 2015, among those quizzing the man who rev­eled in be­ing called a po­lit­i­cal “dirty trick­ster.”

The evening be­fore the ses­sion, Quigley told me, as part of his prep to get a han­dle on Stone, he watched the Net­flix doc­u­men­tary, “Get Me Roger Stone,” about Stone’s scorched-earth tac­tics, hubris and the quest of the po­lit­i­cal op­er­a­tive to get his friend Trump elected pres­i­dent.

Stone was in­dicted on Jan. 24, 2019, on counts of ob­struc­tion of jus­tice, wit­ness tam­per­ing and mak­ing false state­ments to Congress over backchan­nel con­tacts with Wik­iLeaks at that Quigley ses­sion. The case was an out­growth of Robert Mueller’s probe of Rus­sian in­ter­fer­ence in the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

On Fri­day, Trump com­muted Stone’s 40-month sen­tence be­fore he had to re­port July 14 to prison, a move seen by Democrats mainly as a reward to Stone for pro­tect­ing Trump and not fully telling what he knew about how Trump was open to for­eign help in the 2016 cam­paign.

Let’s rewind to spot­light Quigley’s role in this saga.

At the 2017 ses­sion, Quigley me­thod­i­cally pressed Stone about his backchan­nel con­tacts with Wik­iLeaks, its founder, Ju­lian As­sange, and the man Stone used as a go­b­e­tween to find out in­for­ma­tion about the re­lease of stolen Demo­cratic emails.

Stone told Quigley the only way he com­mu­ni­cated with his in­ter­me­di­ary was over the phone.

That’s why when Stone’s fed­eral trial kicked off in Novem­ber 2019, pros­e­cu­tors played for ju­rors the au­dio clip of Quigley quizzing Stone about his con­tacts with the go-be­tween.

“Did you have any other means of com­mu­ni­cat­ing with the in­ter­me­di­ary?” Quigley asked.

“No,” Stone said.

Fed­eral in­ves­ti­ga­tors would dis­cover the lie when they dug up Stone’s 72 emails and texts.

So where are we now? Mueller’s re­port on Rus­sia tam­per­ing in the elec­tion cam­paign ended up hav­ing lit­tle to no im­pact on Trump.

The Demo­cratic-con­trolled House im­peached Trump on abuse of power and ob­struc­tion of Congress stem­ming from the Ukraine con­tro­versy; in Fe­bru­ary, the pres­i­dent was ac­quit­ted in a trial in the GOP-run Se­nate. Sen. Mitt Rom­ney was the only Repub­li­can who voted to con­vict.

With com­plicit Repub­li­cans, the postim­peach­ment Trump is now un­leashed, Quigley said.

He “now learns that they’re go­ing to let him be above the law. We un­der­stand that by do­ing this, he feels that he can use the Jus­tice De­part­ment” to protect his friends and “at­tack his en­e­mies.

“…Th­ese are the ac­tions of an au­to­crat. And that’s par­tic­u­larly scary,” since Trump could win a sec­ond term, Quigley said.

Last week, the Supreme Court ruled in fa­vor of Man­hat­tan Dis­trict At­tor­ney Cyrus Vance Jr., who wants Trump’s tax and other fi­nan­cial records as part of an on­go­ing probe into the Trump Or­ga­ni­za­tion. There are mul­ti­ple le­gal hur­dles that need to be cleared be­fore any­thing is re­leased.

“It’s frus­trat­ing,” said Quigley. “On the heels of the Supreme Court giv­ing us the good le­gal de­ci­sion, it was a prac­ti­cal de­feat, that is, we’re not go­ing to find out any­thing about the pres­i­dent’s fi­nances un­til af­ter Novem­ber.”

Pre­dic­tion: Trump will grant clemency for oth­ers con­victed in Mueller’s probe — Paul Manafort, Ge­orge Pa­padopou­los and Michael Flynn.

Rep. Mike Quigley

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