Another Trump Associate Arrested in Russia Investigation: Campaign Allegedly Asked About 'Damaging' Clinton Info
Federal agents took Roger Stone Jr. into custody in the pre-dawn darkness at his home in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on Friday morning in the latest arrest in the ongoing special counsel investigation into alleged conspiracy between the Russian government and the 2016 campaign of President Donald Trump.
Stone, 66, faces seven charges, all related to efforts to mislead and obstruct Congressional probes into Russia and the Trump campaign, prosecutors said in an indictment reviewed by PEOPLE.
He is accused of obstruction, witness tampering and five counts of making false statements.
He is expected to appear in court on these charges later Friday, according to CNN, which first obtained footage of his arrest.
One of his lawyers told the New York Times the special counsel’s claims were “ridiculous” and that “this is all about a minor charge about lying to Congress about something that was apparently found later,” Grant Smith said.
Robert Buschel, another of Stone’s attorneys, told PEOPLE via email: “We are disappointed that the SCO indicted Roger Stone and authorized the arrest of him in the early morning hours by FBI SWAT. To find Roger Stone, turn on your television, he is not a flight risk.
“He is also not a danger to the community. He will fight these accusations vigorously.”
Smith told Politico that Stone would be pleading not guilty and that he was expected to be released following his appearance.
The indictment against Stone — a notorious political operative and gadfly through the decades who worked on the Trump campaign in its early days and continued to move in his orbit before and after — lays out in minute detail the suspected lies and other misdeeds that have made him the latest Trump associate ensnared in the special counsel investigation, led by Robert Mueller, which will enter its third year this summer.
Among those implicated so far by Mueller’s work are Michael Flynn, the disgraced general and onetime Trump national security advisor, and Trump attorney and personal fixer Michael Cohen, among others.
Perhaps most explosive in the Stone indictment are accusations that “senior Trump Campaign officials” were in contact with him in the summer of 2016. That’s when Democratic officials realized that Russian hackers, directed by the government, had infiltrated their computers, according to the indictment.
The stolen material was later released publicly by Wikileaks, whose founder, Julian Assange, reportedly had deep animosity toward Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton dating back to her time as secretary of state.
“After the July 22, 2016 release of stolen DNC emails by [Wikileaks] a senior Trump Campaign official was directed to contact [Stone] about any additional releases and what other damaging information [Wikileaks] had regarding the Clinton Campaign,” the Stone indictment alleges.
The U.S. intelligence community has concluded Russia attempted to influence the 2016 presidential election in support of President Trump, who has adamantly denied any conspiracy or collusion.
Russia’s efforts included its stealing emails and other documents from the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, subsequently released by Wikileaks during the campaign.
On CNN soon after Stone’s arrest, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders played down any possible connection to the Trump administration while declining to answer if Trump himself had campaign officials contact Stone, as alleged in his indictment.
“This has nothing to do with the President and certainly nothing to do with the White House,” Sanders said.