Trump denounces Stone arrest: ‘Human traffickers are treated better’

President Trump on Friday accused the FBI of mistreating his longtime associate Roger Stone by arresting him in a pre-dawn raid, his first response to the Russia investigation indictment.

“Greatest Witch Hunt in the History of our Country! NO COLLUSION! Border Coyotes, Drug Dealers and Human Traffickers are treated better,” Trump tweeted.

He also suggested that CNN was tipped off about the arrest, asking, “Who alerted CNN to be there?” The network said it was on the scene in Florida to capture the footage after carefully following the grand jury proceedings of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe.

Stone has been indicted on seven counts in connection with Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference and potential coordination between the Trump campaign and Moscow. The charges include obstruction of an official proceeding, witness tampering and five counts of false statements.

{mosads}A federal magistrate judge ruled late Friday morning Stone is not a flight risk and can be released on a $250,000 signature bond.

Stone denied the charges in comments to reporters after he was released, saying he will plead not guilty and has no intention of testifying against Trump. 

“There is no circumstance whatsoever under which I will bear false witness against the president,” Stone said, “nor will I make up lies to ease the pressure on myself.”

Prosecutors say Stone made multiple false statements to the House Intelligence Committee about his interactions with “Organization 1,” which is widely assumed to be WikiLeaks, the group that released hacked Democratic emails before the 2016 election that U.S. officials later said were stolen by Kremlin hackers.

Stone testified behind closed doors as part of the House panel’s investigation into Russian interference, which the then-GOP-led committee shuttered last year. 

Stone is also accused of trying to prevent associates from contradicting his false statements to the committee.

The panel’s new chairman, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), said in a statement that Stone’s arrest “should make it abundantly clear that those who appear before congressional investigators and attempt to mislead us will be held to account.”

The indictment says Stone interacted with senior members of Trump’s campaign about WikiLeaks, and that a campaign aide was “directed” to ask him “about any additional releases and what other damaging information Organization 1 had regarding the Clinton Campaign.”

“Our Committee will be eager to learn just who directed a senior campaign official to contact Stone about additional damaging information held by Wikileaks, one of the publishing arms of Russian government hackers,” Schiff said.

Stone was arrested by the FBI early Friday morning in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and the charges were unsealed at the time of his apprehension. 

Trump’s legal team responded to the indictment later Friday, saying it made no allegations about collusion between Stone and the Russians.

“The indictment today does not allege Russian collusion by Roger Stone or anyone else,” Trump’s personal attorney Jay Sekulow said in a statement. “Rather, the indictment focuses on alleged false statements Mr. Stone made to Congress.”

Trump has repeatedly denied collusion between his campaign and Moscow, deriding the Russia investigation as a partisan witch hunt. 

Stone is the sixth Trump associate to be ensnared in the investigation. Others have been charged or pleaded guilty to charges related to illegal foreign lobbying, false statements and obstruction.

Mueller has also indicted more than two dozen Russians in connection with the breach of Democratic National Committee servers and a plot to use social media to meddle in the election. 

—Updated at 12:56 p.m.

Tags Adam Schiff Donald Trump Robert Mueller Roger Stone Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections Stone arrest Trump tweets WikiLeaks

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