Mueller pushes back on Stone's claim CNN was tipped off about arrest

Special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerMueller report fades from political conversation Trump calls for probe of Obama book deal Democrats express private disappointment with Mueller testimony MORE is pushing back on Roger StoneRoger Jason Stone3 real problems Republicans need to address to win in 2020 Judge rejects Stone's request to dismiss charges Judge dismisses DNC lawsuit against Trump campaign, Russia over election interference MORE’s claim that Mueller’s office tipped off CNN before the longtime ally of President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch To ward off recession, Trump should keep his mouth and smartphone shut Trump: 'Who is our bigger enemy,' Fed chief or Chinese leader? MORE was arrested at his Florida home 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 a footnote of a new court filing Friday.

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Stone asked the court last week to order the special counsel’s office to show whether it violated court orders and released Stone’s sealed indictment to the press ahead of his arrest during a dramatic predawn FBI raid on Jan. 25.

CNN news crews were there to capture the event on camera.

Stone claimed in his motion to the court that a reporter with the news network had been provided an unfiled, draft copy of the indictment and that appeared to have come from the special counsel’s office.  

“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 attorneys 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.”

Even Trump himself suggested that CNN had been tipped off in a tweet sent the day of Stone's arrest:

But in the response on Friday, Mueller said Stone’s own filing shows the indictment was not publicly released until 6:11 a.m., which was after the arrest at 6:06 a.m.

As for the metadata in the document Stone points to, Mueller said that “merely shows when the document was created, not when the document was released.”

Stone's lawyers responded late Friday, claiming Mueller misread the order. They said the indictment wasn't unsealed until Mueller's office informed the court of Stone's arrest, not the minute he was arrested.

"The government’s argument presumes that it, not the Court holds the authority to unseal the court file," his attorneys said.

CNN has publicly denied Stone’s claim that it was tipped off to the arrest. The outlet has credited good instincts, dogged reporting and a little luck for the early morning scoop.

"Stakeouts are a common practice in the news business. CNN, in fact, had another crew out on a stakeout in another state that same morning," the network said in an online post. "The crew was at the home of another player in the Mueller probe, on the suspicion that the person could be arrested, but that hunch didn't pan out."

Stone has been indicted on seven charges stemming from Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign and possible collusion with the Trump campaign. He is accused of obstructing a congressional inquiry, tampering with witnesses and making false statements to Congress. He has pleaded not guilty.

—Updated at 5:10 p.m.