Special counsel Robert Mueller is disputing allegations that investigators gave CNN advanced warning of political operative Roger Stone’s arrest at his South Florida residence last month.
“The Special Counsel’s Office is aware of no information indicating that reporters were given any advance knowledge of a possible indictment from the Special Counsel’s Office,” prosecutors wrote in court filings in its response to Stone’s request to force the special counsel’s office to prove it didn’t tip off the news network.
An Attorney for Stone said CNN presented a draft copy of Trump ally’s indictment, stamped without a PACER, after their client’s arrest, suggesting the document had been released prematurely. “A person with privileged access to a ‘draft’ of Roger Stone’s Indictment, identical to that which had been filed under seal … had — in violation of the Court’s Order — publicly distributed the Indictment prior to its release from the sealing ordered by the Court,” a court filing written by Stone’s attorney reads.
The filing states a CNN camera crew began camping outside Stone’s Fort Lauderdale, Flordia residence at 4:58 a.m. EST. The FBI arrested Stone at 6:06 a.m. EST, after which a CNN journalist contacted the political operative’s lawyer and texted over a “draft copy of the still sealed indictment” at 6:22 a.m. EST.
“The metadata on the ‘draft’ indictment provided by a reporter while Stone was being arrested, established that it came from an ‘AAW’ author or computer,” his attorney argued in the motion. “That a member of the Special Counsel’s office has the initials ‘AAW,’ supports a reasonable inference that that office is responsible for the unlawful public disclosure of a grand jury document sealed by order of the court.”
President Donald Trump has also accused the special counsel of tipping off the network, tweeting: “Greatest Witch Hunt in the History of our Country! NO COLLUSION! Border Coyotes, Drug Dealers and Human Traffickers are treated better. Who alerted CNN to be there?”
CNN has repeatedly denied being tipped off about the indictment, claiming that it was their reporters’ “instinct” to send a camera crew to Stone’s home before dawn on the morning of his arrest. “[FBI agents] walked me out in the middle of the street to make sure the CNN camera could get great footage of the whole thing. The street was sealed off, so how CNN had a camera right outside the door; that’s very hard to understand, because nobody else was allowed on the street,” Stone said of his arrest in an interview with Breitbart News Daily host Alex Marlow.
In late January, Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) sent a letter to the Justice Department requesting for an investigation into whether details of Stone’s indictment were leaked to the media ahead of his arrest.
“It is hard to believe that this reporter and camera crew showed up at the home of Mr. Stone, on the right day at the right time, on a hunch,” wrote the Arizona Republican. “This leads me to believe that CNN may have received advance notice of the date and time of the arrest.”
Stone was charged with making false statements to Congress, obstruction of justice, and witness tampering about communications regarding WikiLeaks during the 2016 presidential election.