Roger Stone, Trump's Informal Adviser, To Be Arraigned In Federal Court
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
Roger Stone will be in federal court today. The longtime informal adviser to President Trump is set to be arraigned in Washington, D.C. Stone was arrested last week and charged as part of special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation. Since then he's had a lot to say. He's done multiple interviews, including one last night on Fox News.
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "LIBERTY FILE")
ROGER STONE: I'm not going to testify against him because I possess no negative information. There is no Russian collusion. This is a witch hunt.
INSKEEP: Not going to testify against him, meaning against the president of the United States, whose language about a witch hunt Stone was repeating. NPR justice correspondent Ryan Lucas is here to tell us more. Hey there, Ryan.
RYAN LUCAS, BYLINE: Good morning.
INSKEEP: Is it unusual for a criminal suspect to be giving so many interviews?
LUCAS: It is indeed unusual. That's not the normal path that they take, but no one has ever accused Roger Stone of being a wallflower.
LUCAS: He is a man who loves a political fight. He loves the spectacle of this. He describes himself as a political dirty trickster. We've seen a lot of his personality on display already. You remember after he was in court in Florida on Friday, he came out on the courthouse steps, flashed that V for victory sign that Richard Nixon made famous. Stone has used his Instagram account in the past couple days to mock Robert Mueller and the Mueller investigation. As for these TV interviews, Stone has used them to take aim at the FBI and at Mueller. He's argued that having heavily armed FBI agents knock on his front door before dawn to take him into custody was an abuse of power, it was a step too far.
I will say that legal experts call what happened outside of Stone's house essentially standard operating procedure in the case in which prosecutors have concerns that a defendant could tamper with evidence or destroy evidence, as prosecutors say they have in this case. And Stone has also used his TV appearances to make appeals for money to help fund his defense.
INSKEEP: I suppose we should also note the president - Stone supports - has publicly urged police officers to slam the heads of suspects on the car while putting them in the car. That's a thing he actually said in a campaign speech. And Stone - that didn't happen to Stone, right? Nobody slammed his head into anything.
LUCAS: No. And he actually said later that the FBI agents were very polite.
INSKEEP: OK. So he's now to be arraigned this morning. What does an arraignment mean in this case? What happens?
LUCAS: Well, Stone will be read the charges. There are seven counts in this indictment against him. They include obstruction of an official proceeding, witness tampering and making false statements. All of the allegations in the indictment relate to Stone's efforts to contact WikiLeaks about hacked Democratic emails during the 2016 campaign to find out what WikiLeaks planned to do with those materials and also what Stone did to try to keep some of those contacts secret.
Now, Stone will enter a plea at today's hearing. He's said over the past few days that he will not plead guilty. The magistrate judge could impose some sort of gag order in the case. That's something that we saw in the case of Paul Manafort here in D.C. That's what's going to take place inside the courthouse. I'm also curious to see what will take place outside the courthouse and whether we will see the same sort of raucous scene that we saw outside of the courthouse when Stone was in court in Florida.
INSKEEP: Let's remember what Stone was accused of lying about. He was accused of lying about interactions in which he seemed to be acting as an intermediary between the Trump presidential campaign and WikiLeaks, which was in the process of releasing damaging information about Hillary Clinton and about Democrats over the course of the election year. That's the heart of the Mueller investigation. Is that investigation any closer to being finished?
LUCAS: Well, there's been a lot of speculation about that. And then yesterday acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker was asked about the investigation. He said he's been fully briefed on it, and then he added that he believes that it is close to being completed and that he hopes that he can get Mueller's report as soon as possible. This is the first time we've heard anything like this from a senior Justice Department official, but there was no concrete specifics.
INSKEEP: He said the investigation is close to being completed as soon as possible, but it was a passing remark. Right?
LUCAS: It was. It was at the end of a press conference that related to another matter, a Chinese enforcement matter. But again, there has been a lot that has been achieved over the course of this investigation. Mueller has so far charged more than 30 people.
INSKEEP: OK. NPR's Ryan Lucas. Thanks. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.