The very public arrest of President Donald Trump’s former political adviser Roger Stone may have been calculated to put heat on the White House, but the flames are blowing back on special counsel Robert Mueller’s nearly two-year Russia collusion probe.
Critics questioning why the FBI reportedly sent 29 heavily armed agents to raid the Fort Lauderdale home of a 66-year-old man charged with process crimes have noticed some troubling math — 29 is four more people than the government sent to raid Osama bin Laden in 2011.
As reporters’ cameras rolled, the predawn raid took a shockingly militaristic turn. An army of agents in combat gear and night-vision equipment drew rifles, swarmed the Stone family home and pounded on the door.
“FBI! Open the door!” an agent shouted. “FBI, warrant!”
Moments later, Stone appeared in sleepwear and glasses and peacefully gave himself up for arrest.
Contrasted with the FBI’s dramatic show of force, the actual charges against Stone seemed anticlimactic — one count of obstruction, five counts of false statements and one count of witness tampering.
CBS News legal analyst Rikki Klieman defended FBI’s “very effective” methods. “When the FBI wants to really make a splash, this is just the way they do it,” she said.
However, Roger Stone’s attorney, Bruce Rogow, lambasted the raid as a “spectacle” and “completely unnecessary.” “Everyone knows where Roger Stone is,” Rogow said. “He’s not in hiding.
Stone himself had harsh words for the Mueller investigation.”This morning at the crack of dawn, 29 agents arrived at my home with 17 vehicles with their lights flashing, when they could simply have contacted my attorneys and I would have been more than willing to surrender voluntarily,” Stone said. “They terrorized my wife, my dogs.”
The president also criticized Mueller’s tactics, tweeting, “Border Coyotes, Drug Dealers and Human Traffickers are treated better.”
Greatest Witch Hunt in the History of our Country! NO COLLUSION! Border Coyotes, Drug Dealers and Human Traffickers are treated better. Who alerted CNN to be there?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 25, 2019
No Russia Connection
Though Stone’s arrest comes as part of Mueller’s broader investigation into alleged collusion between Russia and Trump’s 2016 campaign, the specific charges are not related to collusion, but rather to process crimes allegedly committed during the investigation itself.
Prosecutions of unrelated crimes have become a hallmark of Mueller’s investigation, netting convictions for high profile individuals such as former national security adviser Michael Flynn, but signifying that Mueller may be getting frustrated in his efforts to catch Trump.
As for Stone, he maintains innocence and has vowed he will not be bullied by Mueller into turning against the president.
“I will plead not guilty to these charges. I will defeat them in court,” Stone said. “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. I look forward to being fully and completely vindicated.”