Stone pleads not guilty
Judge orders Trump ally not to contact witnesses
WASHINGTON – Roger Stone brought his one-man show to the federal courthouse Tuesday, setting off from Florida as if it were just another tour stop for an unusual political circus.
The familiar uniform was intact: natty suit, year-round suntan and ice white hair. Yet the man whose love for the microphone has few equals fell nearly silent after pleading not guilty to seven criminal counts, including obstruction and witness tampering, as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s wideranging inquiry into election interference by the Kremlin.
There was no bashing of Mueller – almost an hourly practice since his arrest before dawn Friday at his Florida home. His most effusive comments came when U.S. Magistrate Deborah Robinson asked whether he understood the conditions of his continued release: “Yes, your honor,” Stone replied.
For every role he has embraced in a lifetime of rough-and-tumble elective politics – secretive adviser to presidents and self-proclaimed “dirty trickster” – the 66-year-old Republican operative has little experience with his new place in public life: criminal defendant.
He faces the same grinding legal machinery that has secured convictions of three other top Trump associates.
Stone’s lawyer, Robert Buschel, entered his not-guilty plea Tuesday.
Robinson ordered Stone to return to court for another hearing Friday afternoon. She ordered that Stone refrain from contact with witnesses in the case and that he check in with court authorities once each week.
Since his arrest by heavily armed FBI agents, he has lambasted the raid as “an abuse of power.”
Stone said he wouldn’t lie to implicate the president or to save himself, though he has not ruled out cooperating with Mueller’s team if a deal was offered.
Robinson ordered Stone to see federal marshals so they could book him but said he would remain free on bond.
Stone’s relationship with WikiLeaks, which published troves of documents stolen from Democratic political organi- zations by a hacking group backed by Russian military intelligence, is at the heart of Mueller’s latest prosecution.
Among the allegations contained in the charging documents is a claim that after the release of stolen Clinton-related emails July 22, “a senior 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 the potential future releases of damaging material by (WikiLeaks),” prosecutors alleged. Stone denied being an intermediary between the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks.
Roger Stone, a former political operative for the Trump campaign, arrives for a federal court hearing Tuesday in Washington.