WASHINGTON — Roger Stone wants a federal judge to look at whether the Justice Department prematurely released a draft copy of a sealed indictment and then enabled CNN to cover his early morning arrest.
CNN says it was present at the arrest because its reporters noticed clues that an indictment was imminent, and sent a news crew to stake out his home on Jan. 25.
Stone, a longtime Trump associate, is accused of misleading the House Intelligence Committee about the nature of his contacts with WikiLeaks during the 2016 presidential election. He himself had suggested in recent months that an indictment was a possibility, but his legal filing questions the timing.
According to Stone’s filing, a CNN news crew arrived at his home at 4:58 a.m. that morning and set up a camera in the street. The FBI arrested him at 6:06 a.m., and a reporter for CNN called Stone’s attorney and informed him of the arrest. The reporter sent the attorney a text message at 6:22 a.m. with a “draft copy of the still sealed indictment.”
Stone contends that the indictment was not to be unsealed until after he was arrested, taken into custody, and the court notified. They noted that the indictment was not posted to PACER, the federal court database, until about two and a half hours later.
But shortly after Stone’s legal team filed the motion, a number of reporters noted that the indictment was posted to the Justice Department website around 6:13 a.m.
President Donald Trump and others have speculated that CNN was tipped off about the arrest, and they have accused federal authorities of overreach in the early morning raid of Stone’s house. “Who alerted CNN to be there?” Trump wrote in a tweet.
At a House Judiciary Committee hearing last week, acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker said it was “deeply concerning to me as to how CNN found out” about Stone’s arrest.
But CNN’s Anderson Cooper said in a segment on his primetime show that the network has been upfront about how it happened to be at Stone’s residence. He cited a piece that was posted to CNN.com the day of the arrest, and said Collins “likely knows the real story.” “We can only guess he chose to suggest some shadowy conspiracy because it tucks neatly into the idea that so-called ‘mainstream media’ was in cahoots with the special counsel.”
Stone’s motion asks the judge to “show cause why contempt did not occur” in the release of the indictment.
The judge in the case, Amy Berman Jackson, is considering whether to impose a gag order on the case. Stone has given a number of interviews since his arrest, and his attorneys objected to the imposition of such an order in a court filing last week.
“Roger Stone is a writer and a speaker,” they wrote. “With the exception of his occasional commentaryon men’s fashion, Mr. Stone’s writing and speaking are exclusively and entirely directed towardspolitical affairs and matters of public import involving the government and its officials. To foreclose Mr. Stone’s exercise of his First Amendment rights on any subject would serve no compelling governmental interest.”