Robert Mueller's team knocks down another conservative conspiracy theory about the Roger Stone case
When the FBI arrested Roger Stone as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, CNN was on the scene to capture the even on camera.
Even though the night before journalists had been predicting a new indictment would be coming down the following morning, conservatives immediately seized on CNN's presence as evidence that the network had been tipped off about the arrest. They implied that this showed there was something sinister behind Mueller's indictment — which, as it happened, suggests the special counsel has damning evidence against Stone.
But the conspiracy, as these things tend to, gained a life of its own. Nevermind the fact that CNN explained its reasoning behind staking out Stone's house and the fact that it could have stated, as it has in many articles, that its information came from an anonymous source. And nevermind the fact that Mueller's team has, by all appearance, been exceptionally leak-proof — to the disappointment of many reporters.
Then-Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker even suggested he was concerned by CNN's presence in his testimony on Feb. 8 before Congress, despite no evidence of wrongdoing.
But on Friday, Mueller's team rebuffed the insinuations that there was any mishandling of the information about Stone's impending arrest, which had been echoed by Stone himself:
The defendant further suggests (without evidence) that the government publicly released
the indictment before the defendant’s arrest thereby “enabling news media to attend and witness
Stone’s 6 a.m. arrest.” Dkt. No. 31, at 1. This argument is without merit. As set forth above, and
as reflected in the defendant’s own exhibits, the indictment was not publicly released until after
the defendant was arrested. Dkt. No. 31, at 2 (“At 6:11 a.m. . . . a reporter . . . called counsel and
informed him that Mr. Stone had been arrested. At 6:22 a.m., the same reporter sent counsel a text
message attaching a draft copy of the still sealed [sic] indictment.”) (citing Dkt. No. 31 Ex. 1).
Thus, the defendant’s own motion refutes his unfounded assertion that the media received a copy
of his indictment before his arrest.
In a footnote, the special counsel's office notes that there is no evidence that the appearance of reporters outside Stone's home suggested that the information had leaked. Stone "provides no information to contradict the public statements
of the same media organization that it had no advance knowledge of the indictment and had sent crews to multiple potential locations that day," the filing noted.