Do you want to see a tweet that hasn’t aged well? How about this one from the president that is less than two months old? Roger Stone has now been indicted for, essentially, making up lies about President Trump in an effort to shield him from the truth. And when Trump made that tweet, he knew full well that Stone had perjured himself before the House and Senate intelligence committees, and he knew he was not cooperating with the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. I suppose it does take “guts” to expose yourself to that kind of legal liability.
According to Lawfare, Trump’s December 3, 2018 tweet on Stone and an earlier one from August 22, 2018 in which he prematurely praised Paul Manafort for being “such a brave man” for refusing to cooperate with the Office of Special Counsel both could qualify as violations of federal statute 18 U.S.C. § 1512(b) which criminalizes witness tampering. As it turned out, Manafort was convicted and decided to work with Robert Mueller. He’s now charged with breaching that agreement and continuing to lie. Roger Stone will have to consider which parts of that example, if any, that he wants to emulate.
I’ll write more fulsomely later about the content and implications of the indictments against Roger Stone, but for now we can close the book on one thing. The Trump campaign conspired, colluded, and coordinated with WikiLeaks to disseminate stolen, private communications of U.S. citizens and the Democratic Party in order to seek an advantage in a political campaign. We no longer need to have any debate about that question.
It’s clear from the indictment that people at the highest levels of the campaign were aware that Stone had contacts with Julian Assange and could provide information about the timing and to a certain degree the content of the leaks before they actually occurred. No one has come forth publicly and admitted this to Congress or the American people.
The case isn’t quite closed yet, but it’s getting near to that point. What remains is for Mueller to demonstrate to what degree that major players, including the president, understood at the time that the Russians were responsible for giving the material to WikiLeaks. I’ll have much more to say about that soon.