Roger Stone, the longtime Donald Trump associate, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges he lied to Congress and obstructed the House’s investigation into Russian election meddling.
Appearing briefly in federal district court in Washington, D.C., Stone and his lawyers signaled they intend to seek a trial to fight back against the seven-count indictment brought by special counsel Robert Mueller.
Stone, 66, has been under investigation for more than two-and-a-half years over accusations he was working with WikiLeaks to release stolen Democratic emails that would damage Hillary Clinton’s 2016 White House campaign.
Mueller’s prosecutors last week ultimately brought charges against Stone that center around him misleading lawmakers about his efforts to communicate with Trump campaign officials and WikiLeaks. He’s also been charged with attempting to intimidate Randy Credico, another witness in the Mueller probe who was in touch with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in 2016.
Stone, a famously fashion-conscious political operative, appeared at his arraignment in a navy suit and with a powdered blue pocket square tucked into his shirt. He was surrounded by a legal team that included South Florida-based defense attorneys Robert Buschel, Grant Smith and Bruce Rogow, a First Amendment expert who in the early 1990s represented the rap group 2 Live Crew.
Stone agreed to the same restrictions he accepted last week in Fort Lauderdale federal court when he was released on a $250,000 personal surety bond. He isn’t allowed to travel outside of court districts in New York, South Florida and the Washington D.C. area. He can’t have a U.S. passport and must call a D.C. pretrial agent once a week.
Magistrate Judge Deborah Robinson said Stone’s attorneys must come up with a list of potential witnesses in the case that their client can’t have any contact with.
Stone stood briefly while the magistrate judge read off the restrictions he faces. His answers were all perfunctory: simple acknowledgments of what he must do.
Near the end of the proceedings, attorneys for both sides told the magistrate judge that they agreed the case is complex, a decision that waives Stone’s right to a speedy trial. They also agreed to an order that limits what evidence will ultimately end up in the public record.
“I feel fine, thank you,” Stone said as he left the courtroom, which prompted a stern warning from security: “No interviews in the courtroom.”
The run-up to the arraignment did hit some bumpy patches after the federal magistrate judge twice on Monday reprimanded Stone’s attorneys for failing to properly fill out the paperwork naming a local counsel who could vouch for them because they aren’t members of the D.C. bar.
The attorneys blew about 90 minutes beyond their deadline on Tuesday morning before Peter Farkas, a Washington-based antitrust and intellectual property lawyer, entered a notice on behalf of Stone.
Unlike most defendants in the Mueller probe, and in criminal cases overall, Stone has remained his blunt self since his indictment by continuing to speak publicly with reporters. He did his first media interview after his arrest last Friday with the conspiracy theory website InfoWars and then spoke to reporters outside the courthouse amid a din of boos and chants of “Lock him up.”
Stone also spoke on the Sunday morning television circuit and answered reporters’ questions from the driveway of his Fort Lauderdale home and upon his arrival Monday at the airport in Washington.
On Monday night, Stone appeared with Sean Hannity on Fox News and denounced the Mueller prosecutors for charging him with “errors of memory” during his House testimony.
“You can watch CNN. They’ll tell you this is a slam dunk,” Stone said. “My attorneys don’t think so.”
Attorneys for both sides agreed that Stone’s first status hearing before Judge Amy Berman Jackson will be at 1:30 p.m. on Feb. 1.
Article originally published on POLITICO Magazine
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Matthew Choi