Stone obstruction charge should be upheld despite Russia findings, prosecutors say

Stone obstruction charge should be upheld despite Russia findings, prosecutors say
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Federal prosecutors are arguing that an obstruction charge against longtime Trump associate Roger StoneRoger Jason StoneJudge orders Roger Stone to file rebuttal to allegation he violated gag order Federal prosecutors allege Roger Stone violated gag order with Instagram posts House panel subpoenas Flynn, Gates MORE should be upheld despite special counsel Roger Mueller not establishing that the Trump campaign conspired with Russia during the 2016 election.

Mueller’s team and the U.S. attorney in Washington, D.C., wrote Friday in court filings that Mueller did not have to prove conspiracy between Trump's campaign and Moscow to show that Stone obstructed subsequent congressional probes into alleged coordination.

“To establish the defendant’s guilt of the crimes with which he is charged, the government is not required to prove the existence of a conspiracy with the Russian government to interfere in the U.S. presidential election,” they wrote in response to filings Stone submitted on March 28.

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The argument has been the subject of intense scrutiny in recent days after Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrThe Hill's Morning Report - Crunch time arrives for 2020 Dems with debates on deck Supreme Court set to deliver ruling on census citizenship question Trump: 'I think I win the election easier' if Democrats launch impeachment proceedings MORE told Congress that President TrumpDonald John TrumpConway defends herself against Hatch Act allegations amid threat of subpoena How to defuse Gulf tensions and avoid war with Iran Trump says 'stubborn child' Fed 'blew it' by not cutting rates MORE could not have obstructed justice into probes into Russian collusion because he knew Mueller would not prove the existence of a criminal conspiracy.

“The evidence now suggests that the accusations against him were false and he knew they were false,” Barr told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, saying Trump was frustrated by being linked to collusion claims he believed were false. “That is not a corrupt motive for replacing an independent counsel.” 

While Democrats said the president could have obstructed justice into investigations of coordination conspiracy regardless of the probes’ results, Barr argued that without proof of conspiracy, Trump’s conduct would not be considered obstructive.

Stone, who along with several other Trump and campaign associates was charged in Mueller’s widespread probe, has pointed to Barr’s reasoning, but prosecutors said the logic only applied to the president and that Stone could still obstruct justice. 

“The indictment alleges, and the evidence admitted at trial will show, that after the 2016 U.S. presidential election, the [House and Senate Intelligence Committees], and the Federal Bureau of Investigation all opened or announced investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election,” prosecutors wrote. “The defendant acted corruptly to obstruct those investigations. And the defendant’s actions were capable of influencing the investigations. That is all the law requires.”

Stone has hammered Mueller’s team, requesting his indictment be dismissed and he receive access to Mueller’s unredacted report, claiming he was being singled out by prosecutors and arguing that the special counsel’s appointment was improper.

The longtime GOP operative and Trump associated was charged in January with obstructing the House Intelligence Committee’s probe into Russia’s efforts to meddle in the 2016 election, making five false statements to the panel and witness tampering.

The charges stemmed from his testimony about his contacts with WikiLeaks. Stone appeared to foreshadow in 2016 that the organization would leak documents to embarrass Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThe Hill's Morning Report - Crunch time arrives for 2020 Dems with debates on deck The Memo: All eyes on faltering Biden ahead of first debate Trump says he's not prepared to lose in 2020 MORE, with several of his tweets lining up with high-profile document dumps. 

Stone, who has been under a gag order for months, has denied having any advanced knowledge of the releases and pleaded not guilty to the charges against him.