WASHINGTON — After a publicity-filled weekend spent asserting his innocence and slamming investigators, Donald Trump confidant Roger Stone will appear before a federal judge who may look to muzzle him as the case moves forward.
Stone faces a Tuesday morning arraignment in Washington and is expected to plead not guilty to charges that he lied to lawmakers, engaged in witness tampering and obstructed a congressional investigation into possible coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign.
Though most defendants facing charges tend to stay quiet for fear of inflaming prosecutors or a judge, Stone has opted for a different tack since his pre-dawn arrest Friday in special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation.
Stone staged an impromptu news conference outside a Florida courthouse, made the rounds on weekend television and repeatedly mocked the probe on an Instagram account, including with a cartoonish-image of Mueller as a bowtie-wearing butler holding a tray with a hamburger roll — but no meat in between.
A self-described dirty trickster and longtime confidant of the president, Stone is the sixth Trump aide charged in Mueller's investigation. The indictment does not accuse Stone of coordinating with Russia or with WikiLeaks on the release of hacked Democratic emails. But it does allege that he misled lawmakers about his pursuit of those communications and interest in them. The anti-secrecy website published emails in the weeks before the 2016 presidential election that the U.S. says were stolen from Democrats by Russian operatives.
Stone, who has alleged without evidence that the FBI used “Gestapo tactics” in arresting him, said he did nothing more than exercise his First Amendment rights to drum up interest with voters about the WikiLeaks disclosures. He said he never discussed the issue with Trump.
“That's what I engaged in. It's called politics and they haven't criminalized it, at least not yet,” Stone said Sunday on ABC's “This Week.”
“All I did was take publicly available information and try to hype it to get it as much attention as possible, because I had a tip, the information was politically significant and that it would come in October,” he added.
Tuesday's arraignment could inspire the same circus-like atmosphere that surrounded his Friday court appearance in Florida, where Stone emerged from the building in a blue polo shirt, flashed a Richard Nixon victory sign, predicted his vindication and vowed that he would not “bear false witness against the president, nor will I make up lies to ease the pressure on myself.”
All the while, jeering spectators shouted “Lock Him Up!” while others in the crowd cheered him on.
It's unclear whether Mueller's prosecutors will look to have Stone locked up pending trial or whether they will simply recommend conditions that would allow him to remain free on bond. It's also possible that U.S. Magistrate Deborah Robinson might impose a gag order to prevent Stone from discussing the case.
- Lawmakers press for a full Russia probe report from Robert Mueller
- Roger Stone heads to court; Robert Mueller cites potential evidence trove
- Roger Stone apologizes to judge for Instagram post about her
- House Democrats expand Russia probe, seeking more documents
- House panel seeks documents on 81 people linked to Trump
- Mueller's Russia probe report rules out criminal collusion
- Trump says investigation abused him, led to 'evil things'
- Trump confidant Roger Stone is arrested, says he's falsely accused (UPDATED)
- Court deadlines set stage for more Russia probe details
- Robert Mueller recommends no prison for Michael Flynn, citing cooperation
- Trump on Paul Manafort pardon: 'I wouldn't take it off the table'
- New developments put Manafort back in Russia probe spotlight
- Jerome Corsi, associate of Roger Stone, in plea talks with Mueller
- With new Justice official, fate of Russia probe in question
- In reversal, former Trump aide says he'll probably cooperate
- Trump Jr. messaged with WikiLeaks during 2016 campaign
- Trump lashes out at 'bad,' 'conflicted' Russia investigators
- Flynn documents sought by Senate panel in Russia probe
- Trump can expect receptive crowd at conservative gathering
- Democrats across nation sue GOP alleging voter intimidation; Ohio judge issues restraining order
- 2016 race devolves into ugly fight over treatment of women
- Clinton aide links Trump campaign to Russian email hacking
- Presidential election brings conspiracies into the light
- Trump breaks mold with lean campaign operation