Judge won’t dismiss Roger Stone case
Roger Stone has lost his attempts to get rid of his criminal charges, but will get access to some unredacted parts of the Mueller report as he prepares for his trial.
Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the US District Court in Washington, DC, declined on Thursday to throw out any part of Stone’s indictment after he filed various motions to dismiss attacking the criminal charges and the broader appointment and work of special counsel Robert Mueller.
Stone was indicted in January on seven counts of obstruction, lying to Congress during September 2017 testimony and witness tampering. The charges all relate to his efforts to reach WikiLeaks in 2016 over the publication of hacked emails that could hurt then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and help candidate Donald Trump, a friend of his. He pleaded not guilty and his trial is set for November.
Jackson’s opinion Thursday was yet another opportunity for a federal judge to endorse Mueller’s prosecutorial decisions — after three other federal trial-level judges also upheld Mueller’s work. The ruling was not a surprise, because Stone’s team had conceded at a previous court hearing that some of his key legal arguments went against past Supreme Court and other appeals court decisions.
Stone had taken issue with Mueller investigating the President, receiving funding for his work, and charging Stone with lying to Congress. The House Intelligence Committee made no formal referral for prosecution after Stone testified to them, Stone had pointed out.
But Stone himself had drawn attention to what he said during his testimony by publicly saying afterward the committee doubted him, Jackson said.
“He can hardly claim that the special counsel reached out and grabbed this issue without congressional participation or assent,” Jackson wrote. As for Mueller investigating the President, “Roger Stone is not the President of the United States.”
Jackson also told Stone he couldn’t seek more details about prosecutors’ charging decisions. His legal team had accused Mueller’s of targeting him for political purposes, because he had “exercised his First Amendment right to associate with” President Donald Trump, they had written.
Jackson roundly shot down this accusation. Stone was one of 11 people charged with making false statements, obstructing justice or witness tampering in connection with the Russia investigation, she noted — and the others included former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, former national security adviser Michael Flynn and former Obama White House counsel Greg Craig.
“There were numerous supporters, associates, and family members of the President who have provided testimony or information and were not charged with making false statements,” Jackson wrote on Thursday. “The mere fact that an individual who was at one time associated with the campaign became a focus of the special counsel’s attention is not remarkable, and standing alone, it is not sign of improper motivation.”
Can view redacted Mueller report pages
Separately, Jackson agreed to let Stone see redacted portions on about 20 pages of the Mueller report as well. Those pages are mostly in the report’s first volume on the Russian conspiracy to influence the election.
Yet even this is a narrow win for Stone. His legal defense team already has access to evidence in his case, and they’ll only be able to see the redacted portions that pertain to him. Those redacted portions could summarize what his team already knows, according to the court record.
When the 448-page report came out, about 36 pages of it was redacted for various reasons. “Harm to an ongoing matter” was a major reason for many of the redactions — and prosecutors have said in some cases, that meant the Stone case.
Both Stone and the Justice Department have been under a strict gag order set by Jackson not to reveal information about the case that could harm his ability to have a fair trial. The gag order, a previously court filing said, contributed to some of the redactions.