Federal Prosecutors Closing In On Roger Stone For Riot Planning Role
No one was surprised when Roger Stone was pardoned by Donald Trump two days before Christmas. Trump already had commuted his good buddy’s prison sentence for lying to Congress. There was justifiable outrage that the Trump confidant could just move on with his life and escape with no consequences for his role as a Russia/Wikileaks go-between in the 2016 election.
Well maybe not so fast. It appears that federal prosecutors are intently focused on Stone’s role in helping plan the “Stop the Steal” rally that incited the riot at the U.S. Capitol. Federal conspiracy cases brought against members of the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers indicate that Stone already may be an un-indicted coconspirator who ultimately could be arrested and charged.
In a lengthy article on his “Proof” blog, Seth Abramson lays out a compelling case. Stone was heavily involved in organizing the Jan. 6 rally and even recorded a fund-raising video asking for contributions to help pay for “protective equipment” for rally-goers. Abramson says prosecutors suspect that the right-wing political operative had advance knowledge that violence would ensue at the Capitol as a result of his ties with Proud Boys and Oath Keepers.
What prosecutors are trying to piece together is exactly how much Stone told Trump of the two groups’ plans in advance of the rally turned attempted insurrection. Trump’s defense in his upcoming Senate impeachment trial is that the president is responsible for inciting his supporters to violence because they already were planning on storming the Capitol. If prosecutors are able to gather enough evidence of Stone-Trump communications and coordination ahead of Jan. 6, that could blow a huge hole in Trump’s defense.
Another intriguing aspect of Abramson’s report: if Stone ultimately is arrested in connection with his actions in organizing the Jan. 6 event, the pardon Trump gifted him would not protect him from those new federal charges. That means the 68-year-old Stone could be forced to choose between cooperating with investigators and telling them what he told the ex-president in advance or going to trial on conspiracy charges that essentially would be a life sentence for him. Either way, Trump can’t protect him any more.