The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee has asked the FBI to provide a briefing to the panel about last week’s arrest of political consultant Roger Stone.
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) sent a letter (pdf) to FBI Director Christopher Wray on Jan. 30, expressing concern about the manner in which Stone was arrested and calling on the agency’s leaders to explain the need for a “pre-dawn raid at [Stone’s] home.”
Stone was arrested Jan. 25 during an early morning raid where armed FBI agents stormed his home in Florida, surprising the occupants in the house. He was released hours later on $250,000 bond and was charged with making false statements to Congress, obstruction of an official proceeding, and witness tampering, which he later pleaded not guilty to.
The 66-year-old said he is innocent. In comments to journalists on Jan. 28 in Florida ahead of his arraignment, Stone accused Robert Mueller of “a raw abuse of power.”
In his letter, Graham said he had supported Special Counsel Mueller’s ability to conduct his investigation and had always been a strong admirer and supporter of the FBI. But he added, “I am leery that a subject of the Special Counsel’s investigation, who had retained counsel, had publicly stated that he believed that he would at some point be indicted, and was apparently willing to surrender voluntarily, was arrested in a pre-dawn raid at his home.”
Stone served briefly as an adviser to the Trump campaign in 2015 before being fired by then-candidate Donald Trump that year.
All of the charges against Stone are unrelated to President Donald Trump or his presidential campaign.
After the arrest, the president and others denounced the way Stone was detained, which was captured live by CNN.
“Greatest Witch Hunt in the History of our Country! NO COLLUSION! Border Coyotes, Drug Dealers, and Human Traffickers are treated better,” Trump tweeted on Jan. 25, hours after the pre-dawn arrest, adding “Who alerted CNN to be there?”
Greatest Witch Hunt in the History of our Country! NO COLLUSION! Border Coyotes, Drug Dealers and Human Traffickers are treated better. Who alerted CNN to be there?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 25, 2019
Meanwhile, Barry Pollack, the lawyer for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, described the arrest as a “dawn military-style arrest” that “was wholly unnecessary and served no purpose other than intimidation.”
“The charges against Mr. Stone do not allege that Mr. Stone lied about his [lack of] contacts with Julian Assange, but rather about his contacts with others and about documents reflecting those communications,” Pollack said in a statement.
The charging documents (pdf) in the Stone case said a senior Trump campaign official “was directed to contact Stone about any additional releases and what other damaging information” WikiLeaks had about Clinton’s campaign.
WikiLeaks, through its official Twitter account, stated that the Stone indictment is proof that Stone had no “back-channel” communication with WikiLeaks.
Graham is now demanding an explanation for “the tactics used and the timing of the arrest” of Stone.
“The American public has had enough of the media circus that surrounds the Special Counsel’s investigation. Yet, the manner of this arrest appears to have only added to the spectacle,” he wrote in his letter.
Like Graham, the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), also sent a letter of a similar nature to the FBI director on Jan. 30.
“Given the facts the FBI is embroiled in a scandal related to the origins of this investigation, we are perplexed about why the FBI would use such a show of force in the arrest of an elderly man,” Collins wrote in his letter.
Although none of the 7 charges against Stone is considered to be a violent crime, the FBI demonstrated an immense show of force during an early-morning raid on Stone’s home … approximately 2 dozen FBI agents wearing tactical gear swept across Stone’s law wielding M4 rifles-Why? pic.twitter.com/WCrbZS8XOf
— Rep. Doug Collins (@RepDougCollins) January 30, 2019
Mueller has been investigating whether the Trump campaign had colluded with Russia in influencing the 2016 presidential election. He has indicted several Trump-campaign associates but has not charged anyone for colluding with Russia.
Trump has consistently called the investigation a witch hunt and has denied any collusion. He has also questioned why his allies are being prosecuted while those who oppose him haven’t been charged with similar crimes.
“If Roger Stone was indicted for lying to Congress, what about the lying done by Comey, Brennan, Clapper, Lisa Page & lover, Baker, and soooo many others? What about Hillary to FBI and her 33,000 deleted Emails? What about Lisa & Peter’s deleted texts & Wiener’s laptop? Much more!” Trump wrote on Twitter on Jan. 26.
If Roger Stone was indicted for lying to Congress, what about the lying done by Comey, Brennan, Clapper, Lisa Page & lover, Baker and soooo many others? What about Hillary to FBI and her 33,000 deleted Emails? What about Lisa & Peter’s deleted texts & Wiener’s laptop? Much more!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 26, 2019
Epoch Times reporter Ivan Pentchoukov contributed to this report