Roger Stone urged a federal judge Wednesday to make special counsel Robert Mueller’s office explain why it shouldn’t be held in contempt for violating the seal on the longtime Donald Trump aide’s indictment by allegedly leaking it to the press.
Stone has repeatedly criticized the dramatic arrest at his home in January, which was caught on film by a CNN camera crew staking out his South Florida house. Stone claims CNN was tipped off about the arrest to film the raid, violating court orders. The network has said it merely was monitoring the house after piecing together clues from its reporting.
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In its motion, Stone’s team argues that CNN presented it with a copy of the indictment without a time stamp from the court records database, known as PACER, which it says is a sign the network had the document ahead of time.
“A person with privileged access to a ‘draft’ of Roger Stone’s Indictment, identical to that which had been filed under seal … had — in violation of the Court’s Order — publicly distributed the Indictment prior to its release from the sealing ordered by the Court,” the filing says.
However, the special counsel’s public release announcing the indictment was sent out minutes before Stone’s arrest, and it included a link to the same copy of the indictment without a PACER time stamp. Later that morning, Mueller’s office updated its link to an indictment with the PACER markings.
Mueller’s office declined comment on Stone’s complaint.
CNN’s reporting relied on a number of factors: The special counsel’s team had blocked off Jan. 25, the day of the arrest, while scheduling a court hearing for another case. Stone’s indictment had also been seen as a looming inevitability, and CNN said it pieced two and two together and deduced that could be the day of the arrest.
Still, that has not stopped Stone from crying foul, using the raid to fundraise for his legal fees. In emails and Instagram posts, Stone and his wife, Nydia, have characterized the early morning raid as an excessive use of force, equating the experience to the captures of Osama bin Laden and Pablo Escobar.
President Donald Trump called the incident “a very, very disappointing scene” in an interview with The Daily Caller.
Republicans in Congress have also expressed concern over the raid. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, sent a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray requesting a briefing on the agency’s raid of Stone’s house.
And acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker called the raid “deeply concerning to me as to how CNN found out about that” during a testimony to the House Judiciary Committee. But Whitaker said at the time he didn’t have evidence the media was tipped off.
Stone’s request for a deeper dive into Mueller’s interactions with the media comes as the former Washington “dirty trickster” continues to speak publicly about his case and the Mueller team tries to silence him. U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson is expected to soon issue a decision on whether to impose a gag order to stop Stone, his attorneys and Mueller’s prosecutors from speaking about the details of the case, getting around Stone’s defense that he makes a living offering commentary.