Trump long-time ally Stone arrested, faces seven charges

Roger Stone has repeatedly said he was likely to be indicated, and was scheduled to appear at the federal courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on Jan 25, 2019.
Roger Stone has repeatedly said he was likely to be indicated, and was scheduled to appear at the federal courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on Jan 25, 2019. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

WASHINGTON • Roger Stone, United States President Donald Trump's long-time ally and presidential campaign adviser, was arrested yesterday, charged with obstruction, witness tampering and making false statements, according to a grand jury indictment made public by US Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office.

Stone, who has repeatedly said that he was likely to be indicted, was scheduled to appear at the federal courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, later yesterday, Mr Mueller's office said.

Stone, 66, has faced scrutiny for his support for Mr Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign, when he implied that he had access to information obtained by hackers that could embarrass Democrats, including Mr Trump's rival for the White House, Mrs Hillary Clinton.

"This has been rumoured to be coming down for several months, so Roger and his legal team are ready to fight these charges in court," Mr Michael Caputo, a long-time Stone associate and former Trump campaign adviser, told Reuters.

"They can't prove collusion or conspiracy because it doesn't exist, so they're going after him personally. He will be vindicated."

Stone, who was indicted on Thursday, faces one count of obstruction of an official proceeding, five counts of making false statements and one count of witness tampering, according to the Special Counsel's Office.

CNN, in a video of the arrest, showed a heavily armed FBI team taking Stone away from his home in the early hours of yesterday and Stone surrendering without any issue.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in an interview with CNN that the indictment is unrelated to the President or the White House.

"The charges brought against Mr Stone have nothing to do with the President, has nothing to do with White House. The President did nothing wrong."

According to the indictment, Stone had talked to senior Trump campaign officials about what was called Organisation 1, "and information it might have had that would be damaging to the Clinton Campaign". Organisation 1 matches descriptions of Wikileaks, which is dedicated to publishing secret and classified information provided by anonymous sources.

Stone was also "contacted by senior Trump campaign officials to inquire about future releases" by Organisation 1, according to the indictment.

Additionally, Stone "took steps to obstruct" investigations by intelligence committees in the House of Representatives and Senate into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, prosecutors said.

He also tried to persuade a witness to provide false testimony and withhold information from the congressional investigations, the indictment said.

REUTERS

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 26, 2019, with the headline 'Trump long-time ally Stone arrested, faces seven charges'. Print Edition | Subscribe