Federal prosecutors argued that political consultant and Trump ally Roger Stone lied to Congress about a 2016 connection with WikiLeaks in order to protect the president.
During closing arguments in the criminal trial of the Republican lobbyist on Wednesday, the Department of Justice alleged that Stone lied because “the truth looked bad” for Trump.
“Roger Stone lied to the House Intelligence Committee because the truth looked bad,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron Zelinsky said. “The truth looked bad for the Trump campaign and the truth looked bad for Donald Trump.”
Stone has pleaded not guilty to the charges that include five counts of making false statements to Congress, one count of witness intimidation and one count of obstructing an official proceeding. Jonathan Kravis, who made the closing argument for the prosecution, told the jury that if actions by Stone were revealed back in 2016, “it would look terrible.”
“It would look really bad for his longtime associate of Donald Trump,” Kravis said of Stone’s activities connected with Trump’s campaign in 2016.
“Stone testified falsely and misleadingly at [an Intelligence Committee] hearing in or around September 2017,” the indictment filed in January read.
“Stone failed to turn over and lied about the existence of responsive records to [congressional] requests about documents; Stone submitted and caused to be submitted a letter to [congressional investigators falsely and misleadingly describing communications with [Randy Credico]; and Stone attempted to have [Credico] testify falsely before [Congress] or prevent him from testifying,” the indictment continued.
The report from the House Intelligence Committee’s Russia investigation is “not accurate,” according to Kravis because Stone failed to turn over documents to Congress in 2017.
“The committee never sees or learns what you have seen and learned over the past week at this trial,” Kravis told the 14-person jury. “The committee never saw that evidence, and so the committee’s report is not accurate.”
“Because Stone lied to them, the committee didn’t take that step and now those messages are gone,” Kravis said.
Meanwhile, at the Roger Stone trial, the prosecutor in his closing is summing up the overwhelming evidence of Stone’s lies to Congress. Stone lied, the prosecutor said, because the truth was “going to look terrible for Trump.”
— Ken Dilanian (@KenDilanianNBC) November 13, 2019
“Roger Stone did not want that information to see the light of day because it would have unraveled the other lies he told,” Zelinsky said.
“He knew that if the truth came out about what he had been doing in 2016, it would look terrible,” Kravis added.
“In our institutions of self-governance, committee hearings, courts of law … truth still matters,” prosecutor Michael Marando argued.
But Stone’s defense attorney Bruce Rogow countered the argument and asserted that his client had no motive for lying.
“There was no purpose for Mr. Stone to have to lie about anything to protect the [Trump 2016] campaign when the campaign was doing nothing wrong in being interested in this information,” Rogow said, referring to WikiLeaks. “So much of this case deals with that question that you need to ask, ‘So what?'”
“So what? So what?” federal attorney Michael Marando asked. “If that’s the state of affairs that we’re in, I’m pretty shocked. Truth matters. Truth still matters. Okay? Mr. Stone came in and he lied to Congress, he obstructed their investigation and he tampered with a witness. And that matters and you don’t look at that and say, ‘So what?’ And for those reasons we ask you to find him guilty of the charged offenses.”
But, according to Rogow, Stone did not believe Russia was behind the hack of the Democrats.
“He had no information about Russian interference,” the defense attorney added. “You could look at things in a malevolent way or you could look at things in a different way.”
Stone’s highly publicized arrest earlier this year sparked an outcry over the extent of the raid at his Florida home as 29 FBI agents, armed in tactical gear, arrived and banged on the front door until the barefoot 66-year-old came out with his hands above his head.
The jury on Stone’s case will return to the courtroom on Thursday in order to deliberate.