Ex-federal prosecutor says Stone's 'silver lining' is he was charged with process crimes

Former federal prosecutor Joseph Moreno on Monday said that a grand jury's move to charge President TrumpDonald John TrumpComey responds to Trump with Mariah Carey gif: 'Why are you so obsessed with me?' Congress to get election security briefing next month amid Intel drama New York man accused of making death threats against Schumer, Schiff MORE's former adviser, Roger StoneRoger Jason StoneComey responds to Trump with Mariah Carey gif: 'Why are you so obsessed with me?' Attorney General Barr is in a mess — and has no one to blame but himself Maxine Waters: Gang members have 'more integrity' than 'street player' Trump MORE, with process crimes could be a "silver lining" for Stone. 

"It's highly questionable if the underlying conduct is even illegal," Moreno told Hill.TV's Buck Sexton and Jamal Simmons on "Rising," going on to say that he was not “downplaying” the charges Stone is facing.

"It could be embarrassing, it could be politically damaging. Substantively, he's not charged with a conspiracy. He's not charged with receipt of stolen property. He's not charged with the hacking itself," he continued. "So if there's a silver lining here, he's not charged with a substantive crime. He's charged with what we call process crimes. Lying, witness tampering, certainly serious, I'm not downplaying it."

A process crime is defined as an offense to the judicial process, such as witness tampering and obstruction of justice. A substantive crime deals with people's rights and responsibilities within society.  

Stone was arrested early Friday morning at his Fort Lauderdale, Fla., home, and indicted on seven counts in connection with special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout MORE's probe into alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Russia's election interference. 

The charges against Stone include one count of obstruction of an official proceeding, five counts of false statements and one count of witness tampering.

"It's hard to ignore the fact that you have multiple people lying about different flavors of interactions with Russia or Russian affiliates, or intermediaries," Moreno said. "That being said, we have not seen direct of a conspiracy, or a collusion case, or whatever you like to call it, and that's what President Trump's refrain is."

Prosecutors allege Stone made "multiple false statements" to the House Intelligence Committee about his interactions regarding "Organization 1" — which matches the description of WikiLeaks, the organization that released troves of hacked Democratic emails before the 2016 election that the U.S. intelligence community later said were originally pilfered by Russian intelligence agents. 

Stone said he will plead not guilty to the charges and on Sunday referred to the charges against him as "thin as piss on a rock." 

The White House has maintained that the charges against Stone have nothing to do with Trump or the administration. 

— Julia Manchester