FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida – A longtime political adviser to US President Donald Trump who was arrested on Friday on charges related to special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation said he has been falsely accused and will plead not guilty in court.
Roger Stone also told members of the media that he would not testify against Trump.
“I will plead not guilty to these charges. I will defeat them in court,” Roger Stone told a large gathering of reporters outside a federal courthouse in this city north of Miami as a group of demonstrators tried to drown out his remarks by loudly chanting “lock him up.”
He made his statement after being released on $250,000 bond.
The 66-year-old Stone, who was briefly a key adviser to Trump’s 2016 election campaign, stands accused of five counts of making false statements to the United States House of Representatives’ intelligence committee, one count of obstructing an official proceeding and one count of witness tampering.
In his remarks to reporters about his arrest, Stone criticized the pre-dawn FBI raid at his home in Fort Lauderdale.
“This morning at the crack of dawn, 29 FBI 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,” he said, adding that those actions had “terrorized” his wife and dogs.
Stone also took aim at Mueller’s probe into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election and possible collusion between Moscow and the Trump campaign.
“I am troubled by the political motivations of the prosecutors, and as I have said previously, 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,” he said.
In the one of key charges in Mueller’s indictment, Stone is accused of lying to the House intelligence committee in May 2017 when he said he did not have e-mails with third parties about Organization 1 (WikiLeaks) that pertained to that panel’s investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
“In truth and in fact, Stone had sent and received numerous e-mails and text messages during the 2016 campaign in which he discussed Organization 1, its head (Julian Assange) and its possession of hacked emails. At the time of his false testimony, Stone was still in possession of many of these emails and text messages,” the indictment, which does not identify WikiLeaks or Assange by name, says.
The US intelligence community has concluded that Russian hackers staged cyber-attacks to steal e-mails from the Democratic National Committee and from the chairman of Democratic Party nominee Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, John Podesta, in the lead-up to the 2016 election.
The content of those e-mails, published by WikiLeaks, caused some embarrassment to the DNC and to Clinton, who ended up losing that year’s election to Trump.
Assange, who has been holed up at Ecuador’s embassy in London for seven years due to fears of extradition to the US, has said Russia was not the source for the DNC and Podesta documents.
Russia denies interfering in the 2016 election, while Trump has repeatedly insisted there was no collusion between his campaign and Moscow.