WASHINGTON ― Roger Stone, the outlandish Republican political operative associated with Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, appeared in federal court here Tuesday, where he pleaded not guilty to seven counts in connection with special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian election interference.
Stone is facing five counts of false statements, one count of obstruction of an official proceeding and one count of witness tampering. A 24-page indictment alleges that Stone was in contact with WikiLeaks (referred to as “Organization 1”) and communicated with senior Trump campaign officials about information that could be damaging to Hillary Clinton. One of Stone’s attorneys entered a plea of not guilty on his behalf.
Stone was arrested at his home in Florida early Friday. His appearance at U.S. District Court in the nation’s capital on Tuesday generated a circuslike atmosphere outside the court, where supporters and detractors faced off near an inflatable mashup of Trump and a rat. Stone was released on the same conditions set by a federal judge in Florida: a $250,000 bond and an order restricting his travel and contact with witnesses.
The indictment against Stone suggests that Trump aides were in frequent talks about WikiLeaks and its release of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s stolen emails during the 2016 race. Mueller’s team alleges that Stone repeatedly talked with high-ranking campaign officials about WikiLeaks and even received a text saying “well done” after the organization released its first batch of emails.
The indictment also states that in addition to discussing WikiLeaks with campaign officials, Stone instructed radio host Randy Credico to lie in a grand jury testimony and threatened his therapy dog.
Stone has loudly and repeatedly defended himself since his arrest. He went on a tour of television talk shows to accuse the special counsel of fabricating charges against him and claimed he would be “acquitted and vindicated.”
Trump has come to Stone’s defense, tweeting on Friday that the investigation is a “witch hunt” and promoting a conspiracy theory that the FBI tipped off CNN about the arrest.
Stone’s indictment is the biggest development in months related to the Mueller investigation. The probe has already led to indictments and incarceration for several top Trump campaign officials and allies, including the president’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen. The special counsel’s team has additionally indicted over a dozen Russian citizens and entities.
Stone’s next court appearance is set for Feb. 1