Well, it has been a busy day for special counsel Robert Mueller and the ongoing Russia probe.
Right off the bat, the pre-dawn hours of Friday saw armed federal agents descend on Trump pal and former campaign advisor, Roger Stone’s Fort Lauderdale, Florida home.
I covered that bit of drama over at my other gig with The Resurgent.
I have to mention several points of interest with this early morning raid.
CNN was on the scene with dramatic video of the arrest, leading many across social media to speculate that the FBI had tipped off the network.
That’s not the case.
A clever CNN reporter took notice of what he felt was “unusual activity” with the grand jury involved with the Russia probe.
Also, Stone, himself, has been dropping hints about his pending arrest. CNN simply put it together and the reporter was staked outside of Stone’s home when federal agents arrived.
Not for nothing, but those agents on the job today are doing so with no pay, due to the government shutdown.
The indictment against Stone includes one count of obstruction of an official proceeding, one count of witness tampering, and five counts of giving false statements.
In other words, like so many other Trump campaign aides swept up in all this, he’s in trouble for his misleading statements.
My question is why are so many associated with Team Trump lying?
No, lying is not the elusive “collusion” as MAGA defenders are pointing out, but certainly, the sheer volume of individuals lying in the investigation should raise a lot of questions.
Why are you lying?
People with nothing to hide don’t lie. Just saying…
Stone was arraigned and released on a $250,000 bond.
Once outside the courthouse, he insisted that his arrest, as well as the investigation was politically motivated.
Trump associate Roger Stone told a crowd of reporters outside his arraignment Friday that he will plead not guilty to charges brought by special counsel Robert Mueller, and that he will never testify against President Trump, who he called one of his “oldest friends.”
“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.”
While everyone was watching that bit of drama play out, over in Washington a hearing involving former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, and whether he lied to special counsel after making a cooperation deal played out.
Andrew Weissmann, a deputy with special counsel’s office pressed that their office no longer feels Manafort is deserving of special considerations for cooperating with the investigation.
Manafort’s lawyers have argued that he did not intentionally mislead investigators.
“We believe that whether there was a breach contends on whether or not he intentionally lied,” said defense attorney Richard Westling. “He did not intentionally lie.”
Mueller’s prosecutors said Manafort told “multiple discernible lies” that were not instances of “mere memory lapses.”
Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who is presiding over the case, says she’s not ready to move on with sentencing until the two sides settle the dispute.
On February 4 the two sides will meet in a closed door session to hash it out, with a redacted transcript to follow. On February 8, Manafort will be sentenced in his case out of the Eastern District of Virginia.
Manafort was convicted of tax evasion and bank fraud in August after a weeks-long trial in Virginia federal court, and a month later agreed to cooperate with Mueller’s investigation by pleading guilty to two counts from his D.C. case and admitting his guilt to the remaining counts in his Virginia case.
The Mueller team has said Manafort has lied about a $125,000 payment he received in 2017, his conversations with a former associate who’s been accused of being a Russian intelligence operative, contacts with administration officials, and an unspecified ongoing investigation.
In poorly redacted court papers, Manafort’s lawyers accidentally revealed that he shared campaign polling data with his associate,Konstantin Kilimnik — who law enforcement say was connected to Russian intelligence — and then lied about it to federal investigators.
Manafort, walking with a cane and allegedly suffering from gout, appeared in the courtroom today, dressed in a suit, at his request.
So what do Manafort and Stone have in common, other than their devotion to Trump and Russian connections?
Judge Jackson will be overseeing both of their cases.
It’s a busy time with the Russia probe, but don’t think this is the end.
There will be more.