There’s much more to Roger Stone than his connection to President Donald Trump.
A defiant Roger Stone on Sunday denounced the “Gestapo tactics” of federal authorities and denied the allegations against him just two days after being arrested by the FBI on seven felony charges, including witness tampering, obstruction and lying.Â
The charges against the longtime political operative, and associate of President Donald Trump, stem from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Stone is charged with lying about his role in theÂ Trump campaign’s attempts to communicate with WikiLeaks about Clinton campaign emails that had been stolen by Russian agents.Â
Stone, 66, denied doing anything wrong, calling the indictment against him “thin as piss on a rock” during an interview on ABC’s “This Week.” He said his emails and texts that the special counsel used aaginst him in the indictment were taken out of contect.Â
He also called the manner of his arrest â€“ which took place in a pre-dawn raidÂ at his Florida home on Friday â€“ “extraordinary.” He said the number of agents who were involved was unnecessary because he does not own a firearm and â€“Â because he says he has an expired passport â€“ did not pose a flight risk.
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“I’ve been under investigation for two years. I have destroyedÂ nothing. But if I were going to destroy evidence, wouldn’tÂ I have done it a long time ago?” he said. “They couldÂ simply have called my lawyers and I would have turned myself in.”
Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., did not share Stone’s dismissive attitude of the indictment against him.Â
“Look, heâ€™s presumed innocent.Â But these are very specific allegations of lies and witness intimidation.Â Theyâ€™re matters that will be easily provable,” said Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, on “This Week” after Stone’s interview. “And I think heâ€™s going to need a much better defense than the one you just heard.”
Schiff, a former prosecutor, said white-collar criminals often dismiss each individual piece of evidence as innocent and explainable while trying to get investigators to ignore the “totality” of the evidence.Â
Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who also worked as a prosecutor, agreed.Â
“The fact of the matter is that every white collar defendant in this circumstance, when theyâ€™re confronted with a bunch of documents of their own making, try to say that they’re out of context,” said Christie, who added that Stone is facing a “pretty damning indictment.”
After his arrest, Stone was released onÂ $250,000 bail.
Stone claimed the FBI was making “anÂ expensive show of force to try to depict me as Public Enemy No. 1, the O.G.,” he said, using the acronym for “originalÂ gangster.”
“It’s an attempt to poison the jury pool,” he said. “These are Gestapo tactics.”Â
Stone says everything he said or wrote about the Clinton campaign emails in 2016 was based on what had been made public, and that he had no advance knowledgeÂ about what WikiLeaks would publish.Â
In the indictment against him, Mueller’s team alleges that “a senior Trump campaign official” was directed to talk with Stone about further WikiLeaks releases. Stone said he believes that official was Rick Gates, an associate of former campaign manager Paul Manafort.Â
But Stone said that Gates is lying if he is the one claiming such a conversation took place.Â
“I never spoke about this matter with Rick Gates. But I’m mindful of the special counsel’s ability to induce people to say things that are not true, particularly people who are seeking a reduction in their sentence,” he said.
Gates pleaded guilty in FebruaryÂ toÂ conspiracy andÂ lying to investigators. As part of his plea deal, he testified against his former business partner at Manafort’s trial in August aboutÂ helping file false tax returns, failingÂ to disclose multiple foreign bank accounts and providingÂ fake documents to banks to acquire millions of dollars in loans. GatesÂ also may have cooperated with Mueller in other parts of his investigation.Â Â
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Stone also implied former White House adviser Steve Bannon might also be behind the claims in the indictment because he has an “ax to grind.”Â
“I urged the president to fire Steve Bannon,” Stone said. “I suspect that I am not his favorite person.”Â
Stone said he never spoke to Trump about WikiLeaks, Russia or the Mueller investigation.Â
He said the investigation into where the emails came from is “meant to distract from the content of those emails, which demonstrated the corruption and dirty tricks of the Clinton campaign.”Â
Stone said it was an “unproven” claim that Russians stole those emails and he compared himself to Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg, who exposed White House dishonesty about progress in the Vietnam War.Â
“I tried to do the same thing that Daniel Ellsberg did, for which the New York Times and the Washington Post called him a hero, although I never received any stolen or hacked material and handed it to anyone,” he said.
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., did not agree that there was anything heroic about WikiLeaks publication of the stolen emails.Â
“I think should have been clear to people a long time ago that WikiLeaks and others like that could have been tools of foreign intelligence used to divide America,” Rubio said on “Meet The Press.” “And so I do believe that anyone who is cooperating with them, wittingly or unwittingly, is doing the work of a foreign intelligence agency to harm us.”Â Â
Contributing: Brad Heath, Bart Jansen, Kevin Johnson and Brett Molina
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