The long-anticipated indictment of Roger Stone finally dropped on Friday, and it landed on Stone like the proverbial ton of bricks. As someone who prosecuted Scooter Libby and others on similar charges and defended white-collar cases involving similar charges as those alleged here—false statements, obstruction of justice and witness tampering—my takeaway is that Stone should begin getting his affairs in order. Barring a presidential pardon (always the wild-card possibility with a POTUS like Trump) Stone will be convicted and receive a very substantial prison sentence. This is as close to a slam-dunk case as a prosecutor will ever bring.
There are several types of defenses that are typically employed when defending a case like this, and none of them are viable here.
“I didn’t actually say what the government alleges I said/the government didn’t understand what I said.”
This defense can often work when the false statements are based on an interview conducted by field agents who simply take notes of the interview and do not record it. In these instances, defendants can plausibly argue that either they did not understand the agents’ questions, or the agents either did not understand or did not memorialize their response accurately. Any ambiguity in the question or the answer can be exploited. But that won’t work for Stone, because the entire congressional hearing was transcribed, verbatim. The questions, and the answers, were under oath and were not at all ambiguous or open to interpretation.
“You can’t prove that my answer was false.”
In other words, cast doubt about the government’s version of what it alleges is the truth. Typically, this can be done by attacking the credibility of the government’s witnesses who are called to establish what the government contends actually happened. So, for example, if the government were reliant on Randy Credico or Jerome Corsi to tell the jury the “truth,” then Stone’s counsel could attack their credibility. Even the most straight-arrow witnesses can get tripped up on cross-examination on occasion. (If you doubt this, just dig up the descriptions of how Tim Russert, perhaps America’s most trusted journalist at the time, was tied up in knots on cross-examination when he testified in the Libby trial. Not pretty.)
Unfortunately for Stone, and what makes fighting this case futile, is that the government will not need to rely on the credibility of any individuals to make its case. [Continue reading…]
Stone said on Sunday he would have to consult with his attorneys about potentially cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating links between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives.
“That’s a question I’ll have to determine after my attorneys have some discussion,” Stone said on ABC’s This Week. “If there’s wrongdoing by other people in the campaign that I know about – which I know of none – but if there is I would certainly testify honestly. I’d also testify honestly about any other matter including communications with the president.” [Continue reading…]