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Trump's former aide indicted in Mueller probe, held; White House says nothing to do with US President

The former Trump campaign adviser was later released on bail by a Florida court after posting a USD 250,000 bond after he was produced in the court.

Published: 25th January 2019 11:11 PM  |   Last Updated: 26th January 2019 03:53 AM   |  A+A-

Roger Stone. (File Photo | AP)

By PTI

WASHINGTON: Roger Stone, a long-time Trump associate, was arrested by the FBI on Friday after being indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, probing alleged interference by Russia into the 2016 US presidential elections.

The former Trump campaign adviser was later released on bail by a Florida court after posting a USD 250,000 bond after he was produced in the court.

He later told reporters outside the court that he would plead not guilty to the charges.

As per the order issued by Magistrate Judge Lurana Snow, Stone has been prevented from travelling outside of South Florida, Washington, DC and New York City.

Also, he has been asked by the court not to contact any witnesses.

Stone's arrest is being seen as a setback for US President Donald Trump at a time when he is fighting a major political battle with the opposition Democrats funding for building a wall along the US-Mexico border to check the flow of illegal migrants.

In his first reaction, Trump reiterated his allegation of "witch-hunt" and said that drug-dealers and human traffickers were being treated better.

"Greatest Witch Hunt in the History of our Country! NO COLLUSION! Border Coyotes, Drug Dealers and Human Traffickers are treated better," he tweeted.

Trump also questioned on the presence of CNN to shoot the arrest of Stone in Florida.

"Who alerted CNN to be there?" asked the president.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders also told reporters that this has nothing to do with president Trump.

Stone was arrested from his Florida home early Friday morning.

Stone has been indicted on seven counts including obstruction of official proceeding, false statements, and witness tampering.

Stone said that he would plead not guilty.

"I will plead not guilty to these charges. I will defeat them in court," he told reporters outside the court.

"There is no circumstance whatsoever under which I will bear false witness against the president nor will I make up lies to ease the pressure on myself. I look forward to being fully and completely vindicated," Stone said.

He said: "I will not testify against the president because I would have to bear false witness," he asserted.

According to the indictment, Stone was an official on Trump's presidential campaign until in or around August 2015, and maintained regular contact with and publicly supported the Trump Campaign through the 2016 election.

READ HERE | Post Comey's firing, FBI opened probe into whether President Trump was working for Russians: NYT

Special Counsel alleged that Stone obstructed the investigations by the House Intelligence Committee and the FBI into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Mueller, in his 23-page indictment, alleged that Stone made multiple false statements to House Intelligence Committee about his interactions regarding "Organisation 1.The unnamed organisation matches the description of WikiLeaks. My first reaction is real simple. This has nothing to do with the president and certainly nothing to do with the White House. This is something that has to do solely with the individual and something that not affects us here in this building," Sanders told CNN in an interview.

She repeated her remarks to other news channels and to reporters at the White House.

Stone, she asserted, is somebody who's been a consultant for dozens of Republican presidents and candidates and members of Congress, but conversations between those individuals have nothing to do with the fact of what these charges are about, and that's about whether he made false statements.

"We'll let the courts make that decision. I think a bigger question is if these - if this is the standard, will the same standard apply to people like Hillary Clinton, James Comey, Clapper? Will we see these same people who we know have also made false statements, will that same standard apply? And that's a question that we'll have to see what happens on that front," she said.

Sanders said the charges are about whether or not he gave false statements, and that's no that individual.

"That has nothing to do with the president. Those are the changes that they have brought against this individual. When you want to get into specific questions, you'll have to talk to the president's outside council on that," she asserted.

The opposition leaders were quick to slam the president on the latest development on Russian investigation.

Democratic Senator Mark Warner, Vice Chairman of Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said that Stone has been indicted for covering up his engagements with Wikileaks, an organisation that US intelligence officials and the Senate Intelligence Committee have publicly designated as a hostile intelligence service, regarding the public release of emails stolen by the Russian government.

"It is clear from this indictment that those contacts happened at least with the full knowledge of, and appear to have been encouraged by, the highest levels of the Trump campaign," he alleged.

Warner claimed that Stone and Trump have known each other for nearly forty years.

"Mr Stone played a key role in recruiting Paul Manafort to run the Trump campaign, and he publicly claimed on several occasions to remain in regular contact with then-candidate Trump throughout the 2016 presidential race, even after he formally departed the Trump campaign," he said.

"It appears Stone also lied to Congress and tampered with witnesses in order to obstruct these investigations into the Trump campaign – yet another example of senior Trump officials concealing the truth about their Russia-related contacts during the 2016 election," Warner said.

READ HERE: Trump's attacks on the FBI make America less safe: James Comey

The Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez alleged that Trump campaign "was a willing and active participant" in a conspiracy with Russia and WikiLeaks to influence the 2016 election.

"There are more conspirators yet to be held accountable, and at least one of them is named Donald Trump."

Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein said that the indictment and arrest of Stone is the latest sign that the special counsel investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 elections is having real, tangible results.

"The indictment of Roger Stone, a friend and advisor of then-candidate Trump, charges him with lying to Congress about the release of Democratic emails hacked by Russians. These are serious charges," Feinstein said.

Notwithstanding the denial by the White House, the top Democratic lawmaker from California said that the phrase 'Trump campaign' appears in the indictment 24 times, with specific details about a senior Trump campaign official reaching out to Stone regarding leaked emails.

Mueller has so far brought 37 indictments, obtained seven guilty pleas and has secured the cooperation of several key individuals.

"His work to uncover what really happened during the 2016 election has been thorough and objective, and he must be allowed to complete his job without interference," Feinstein said.

Appearing on the CNN, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper claimed that there appears to be connection with the Trump Campaign.



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