Judge Smacks Down Roger Stone’s CNN Conspiracy Theory

Roger Stone, after his release, outside the Federal Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale on Friday, Jan. 25, 2019. (Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun Sentinel/TNS)
Roger Stone, after his release, outside the Federal Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale on Friday, Jan. 25, 2019. (Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images)
February 27, 2019 6:03 p.m.

A D.C. federal judge rejected a motion Wednesday from GOP operative Roger Stone claiming that special counsel Robert Mueller’s team tipped off CNN before his Jan. 25 morning arrest.

Stone had petitioned Judge Amy Berman Jackson to hold a hearing demanding that prosecutors “show cause” for why they were not in contempt of court for allegedly leaking a copy of the indictment to the press. A CNN news crew captured Stone’s arrest on video, after having a team stake out the spin artist’s Florida home.

But exhibits Stone provided “supplied no reason to believe that any contempt of court had occurred,” Berman Jackson wrote in the order, adding that evidence and filings he introduced into the record “demonstrate that there is no basis” to issue a contempt order.

Berman Jackson addressed the allegations around CNN directly in the filing, as well. The theory has taken root in conservative media over the past month, with former hot tub salesman and onetime acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker giving some credence to it in Feb. 8 testimony before the House Judiciary Committee.

“Defendant’s recitation of the events reflects nothing more than the fact that the reporter had the indictment in hand after the defendant was arrested, and there is no evidence that the reporter had it earlier,” the judge wrote.

Stone faces charges of obstruction, witness tampering, and lying to Congress. Berman Jackson strengthened a gag order on Stone last week after he posted a picture of her on Instagram with what appeared to be crosshairs next to her head.

In Wednesday’s order, Berman Jackson also noted that Stone’s argument had shifted from the initial allegation that prosecutors leaked a copy of the indictment to CNN.

As the dispute wound on, Stone’s attorneys began to argue instead that special counsel prosecutors released the indictment before an unsealing order came down in the case.

“The defendant misapprehends the clear purpose and the intent of the sealing order,” she wrote. “The OSC’s publication of the indictment after the defendant’s arrest was not unauthorized.”

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