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 TrumpThe Hill's Morning Report - White House, Congress: Urgency of now around budget GOP presses Trump to make a deal on spending Democrats wary of handing Trump a win on infrastructure MORE's former adviser, Roger StoneRoger Jason StoneDemocrats are running out of stunts to pull from impeachment playbook Feds claim 'continued need' for Stone associate's grand jury testimony A reality-based game for Trump watchers: 'Name that Fallacy' 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 MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe 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