One day after President Donald Trump’s highly controversial commutation of Roger Stone’s sentence, former Special Counsel Robert Mueller wrote an op-ed in response to the White House’s attack on the Russia investigation. Mueller said that Stone was no victim and that the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election was no hoax.
Mueller’s op-ed, published on Saturday in the Washington Post, defended the motives and methods of the Special Counsel’s Office.
“The work of the special counsel’s office — its report, indictments, guilty pleas and convictions — should speak for itself. But I feel compelled to respond both to broad claims that our investigation was illegitimate and our motives were improper, and to specific claims that Roger Stone was a victim of our office,” Mueller began. “The Russia investigation was of paramount importance. Stone was prosecuted and convicted because he committed federal crimes. He remains a convicted felon, and rightly so.”
The former special counsel said Stone became a “central figure” in the Russia probe because he “communicated in 2016 with individuals known to us to be Russian intelligence officers, and he claimed advance knowledge of WikiLeaks’ release of emails stolen by those Russian intelligence officers.”
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Stone was convicted in Nov. 2019 on charges obstruction, witness tampering, and lying to Congress regarding his contacts with WikiLeaks in the lead up to the 2016 election. Federal prosecutors who worked in Mueller’s office said that Stone lied to Congress to protect the president.
But the White House on Friday, in a lengthy official statement on the president’s act of clemency on behalf of a longtime friend and adviser, said Stone was the “victim of the Russia Hoax.”
“Roger Stone is a victim of the Russia Hoax that the Left and its allies in the media perpetuated for years in an attempt to undermine the Trump Presidency. There was never any collusion between the Trump Campaign, or the Trump Administration, with Russia. Such collusion was never anything other than a fantasy of partisans unable to accept the result of the 2016 election,” the White House statement said. “The collusion delusion spawned endless and farcical investigations, conducted at great taxpayer expense, looking for evidence that did not exist. As it became clear that these witch hunts would never bear fruit, the Special Counsel’s Office resorted to process-based charges leveled at high-profile people in an attempt to manufacture the false impression of criminality lurking below the surface.”
“These charges were the product of recklessness borne of frustration and malice. This is why the out-of-control Mueller prosecutors, desperate for splashy headlines to compensate for a failed investigation, set their sights on Mr. Stone,” the statement continued, suggesting Stone was accused of process crimes over the course of an “absolutely baseless investigation…”.
The White House also focused on the FBI’s pre-dawn raid of Stone’s Florida home.
“But rather than allow him to surrender himself, they used dozens of FBI agents with automatic weapons and tactical equipment, armored vehicles, and an amphibious unit to execute a pre-dawn raid of his home, where he was with his wife of many years,” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany’s statement said. “Notably, CNN cameras were present to broadcast these events live to the world, even though they swore they were not notified—it was just a coincidence that they were there together with the FBI early in the morning.”
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Mueller said that Stone, in fact, “lied about the identity of his intermediary to WikiLeaks,” “lied about the existence of written communications with his intermediary,” and “lied by denying he had communicated with the Trump campaign about the timing of WikiLeaks’ releases.”
“We made every decision in Stone’s case, as in all our cases, based solely on the facts and the law and in accordance with the rule of law,” Mueller concluded. “The women and men who conducted these investigations and prosecutions acted with the highest integrity. Claims to the contrary are false.”
[Image via ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP/Getty Images]
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