WASHINGTON – Roger Stone, a longtime friend and a former campaign aide to President Donald Trump, declined through his lawyer Tuesday to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee or provide requested documents.
Stone, a political operative who worked on Republican campaigns from Richard Nixon to Trump, has ties to several targets of Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign.
On Tuesday, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the top Democrat on the committee, tweeted out a letter from Stone’s lawyer’s saying that he intended to “plead the Fifth” rather than appear before the committee. When a witness “pleads the Fifth” he is invoking a right under the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution that allows him to avoid questions that might incriminate him.
“The requests, as previously stated to staff, are far too overbroad, far too overreaching, far too wide ranging,” Stone’s lawyer wrote.
The letter pointed out that Stone had already appeared before the House Intelligence Committee and those transcripts could soon be made public so “you will soon see that he directly and fully answered all of the questions posed to him.”
“I hardly need to say that the gossip and innuendo which surrounds Mr. Stone in the press, in Congress and, according to news reports, in the Special Counsel’s offices, provides him with a reasonable basis to protect himself from the ‘ambiguous circumstances’ which some have embraced,” his lawyer wrote.
The letter comes the day after Trump praised Stone for vowing to “never testify against Trump.”
“Nice to know that some people still have “guts!” Trump tweeted Monday.
“I will never testify against Trump.” This statement was recently made by Roger Stone, essentially stating that he will not be forced by a rogue and out of control prosecutor to make up lies and stories about “President Trump.” Nice to know that some people still have “guts!”
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 3, 2018
Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley spokesman George Hartmann said that the request for Stone’s appearance and documents did not come from the majority side.
Stone’s former business partner from years before they each worked on Trump’s presidential campaign, Paul Manafort, has been convicted on a variety of bank, tax and witness-tampering charges.
Stone acknowledged he is likely the unnamed person in the indictment of Russian military intelligence officers charged with hacking Democratic computers.
But Stone insisted throughout that he did nothing illegal. In a tweet Oct. 23, Stone said in pungent language for CNN and The Washington Post that he didn’t communicate with WikiLeaks during the 2016 campaign and didn’t receive emails allegedly hacked from Democratic computers.
“The answer is no,” Stone said.