Stone pleads not guilty

Stone pleads not guilty

Roger Stone looks on from the audience as the CEO of Google, SUNDAR PICHAI, testifies before the House Judiciary Committee on Transparency & Accountability and Examining Google and its Data Collection, Use and Filtering Practices, (Photo ©2018 Doug Christian)
Roger Stone looks on from the audience as the CEO of Google, Sundar Pichai, testifies before the House Judiciary Committee on Transparency & Accountability last year. (Photo ©2018 Doug Christian)

WASHINGTON — Longtime Trump associate Roger Stone pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges brought against him in Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s probe.

Stone, a longtime friend and an informal political adviser of President Donald Trump, was charged Friday with obstruction, witness tampering and five counts of making misleading statements to Congress. The charges all stem from alleged conversations he had surrounding the release of hacked Democratic emails during the 2016 campaign.

After being arrested in a pre-dawn FBI raid on Friday in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., the eccentric political operative was released on a $250,000 signature bond that did not require payment from him.

He later told supporters and detractors who had gathered outside the Fort Lauderdale courthouse where he was arraigned that he intended to fight the charges. He played up his relationship to Trump, whom he pledged he would never “bear false witness” against.

Following Tuesday’s court proceeding, Stone was more restrained.

While crowds had gathered outside the U.S. District Court in D.C. to either cheer or jeer the Trump confidante, he departed the scene without making remarks.

Stone was ordered to restrict his travel to Florida, Washington, D.C., Virginia and New York, and to not contact any other witnesses involved in the Mueller probe.

Stone is set to appear in court again on Friday.

His indictment came amid Mueller’s investigation into potential collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.

Although the court filings do not show any clear-cut signs that Stone intended to work with Russia, the U.S. Justice Department has charged Russian operatives for hacking emails related to the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign in order to sway the election toward Trump.

Stone had discussed the emails, released by the group WikiLeaks, with associates and members of the Trump campaign, according to the indictment.

The White House, however, has maintained that the president did nothing wrong and that there are no signs of collusion.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders has declined to address a potential pardon for Stone, whom Trump has previously praised for having “guts” for not telling investigators false information.

When pressed on Monday about the possibility of a presidential pardon for Stone, Sanders dismissed it as a “ridiculous” hypothetical.

Stone has kept up a steady media presence since his arrest. While he is restricted from discussions with potential witnesses, there is no gag order to prevent him from continuing to make his case on camera.

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