Former Trump adviser Roger Stone vowed during a dramatic press conference outside a federal courthouse in Florida on Friday afternoon to fight the charges of witness tampering, obstruction and false statements brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, calling the charges "politically motivated" while insisting he would not turn against President Trump.
"I will plead not guilty to these charges," Stone told reporters, speaking over hecklers. "I will defeat them in court. This is a politically-motivated investigation." Stone, who once worked for former President Nixon and has a tattoo of the former president on his back, flashed the Nixon V-signs in front of cameras before he spoke. "There is no circumstance whatsoever under which I will bear false witness against the president, nor will I make up lies to ease the pressure on myself," said Stone.
Fox News Radio's Guy Benson & Marie Harf spoke to Fox News Contributor Andrew McCarthy who says that the big takeaway is that this indictment like the indictments that started coming out a year ago against the Russian entities underscore that there is no evidence that the Trump campaign was involved in an espionage conspiracy with Russia
Guy Benson: [00:01:14] ROGER STONE This colorful character in American politics on the fringe right A Trump ally of sorts. He was taken into FBI custody early this morning following a seven count indictment from Robert Mueller a special counsel last night in D.C. FBI showed up at his house in Florida. Today he was in court. He came out he did the Nixon gesture with both of his hands the two sort of peace signs or victory signs. It is just wild and we are going to begin that conversation with our first guest Andrew McCarthy. You know him if you're a regular on this program a regular listener which we hope you all are Andy is a bestselling author contributing editor at National Review. Former U.S. assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York and he is a colleague of ours here at Fox News where he is a contributor. Andy welcome to Bensen and Harf on this very news heavy Friday not the end of another boring week of just wild times and so if you would first question for me and then I'll turn it over to Marie with Roger Stone getting indicted on lying under oath on tampering with witnesses on obstructing a congressional investigation or related to WikiLeaks in the 2016 campaign and his involvement in all of that. What are the big takeaways put on your prosecutor hat. What are your big takeaways on The Mueller investigation and the implications for not just Roger Stone but perhaps other people.
Andy McCarthy: [00:02:52] Well I think the big takeaway is that this indictment like the indictments that started coming out a year ago against the Russian entities underscore that there is no evidence that the Trump campaign was involved in an espionage conspiracy with Russia. There may have been disturbing contacts between them. I'm not going to say there may have been. There were disturbing contacts between people in Trump world and people who have Kremlin connections. But the rationale for this investigation. And let's not forget because it's tripped over or glided past frequently. This is weighty stuff. This is the president of the United States under a cloud of suspicion and therefore that infects the government's ability to govern. The rationale for doing that was that the Trump campaign and perhaps Trump himself were involved in Russia's cyber espionage operations to undermine the 2016 election. And it seems to me that these indictments the Russian indictments essentially precluded the idea that Russia wanted the help of any one on the American side not just Trump and this indictment shows that the Trump campaign far from having knowledge of Russia's hacking operations didn't even know what WikiLeaks had and they have to turn to bozos like stone in order to try to get that information. There's a lot of reasons to be to look askance at a number of the people who are around Trump and who Trump brought into the campaign. And that's all well and good. And the fact that they would turn to somebody like Stone who has cultivated this goofy reputation as a political dirty trickster and soothsayer is does not speak well of the Trump campaign and the people in it and who were who were the top advisers to it. But that's all while that's all very politically interesting. A prosecutor's job is to uncover crime and the crime that was the rationale for this investigation. Not only doesn't exist. It's been very clear for many months that it hasn't existed. And the most important thing about that is that the government special former director called at the time with the complicity of the Justice Department back in March of 2017 who announced to the public that number one there was an investigation of Russia. They're not supposed to acknowledge investigations that the Trump campaign was the subject of the investigation. They're never supposed to identify subjects of investigations particularly counterintelligence investigations which are classified. And he went on to say that there would be an assessment at the end of the investigation as there are in all counterintelligence investigations he said of whether people committed crimes or not. There is no such thing as a standard assessment from a counterintelligence investigation or in a counterintelligence investigation of whether anyone committed crimes. So that just simply isn't the case. And the only reason to put all that information out which is totally against their protocols was to suggest to the public that Trump might be involved in a criminal conspiracy with the Kremlin. So and it seems to me since they've known for a long time but that wasn't true somebody had an obligation to come out and correct the misinformation.
Marie Harf: [00:06:42] So Andy I want to dig into this indictment a little bit with you. I think the way you were just describing a quote collusion. Right and I know that's not a legal definition but you're saying you know people were looking at whether there was Trump coordinating with the Russians to steal information. And I think what we've seen in this indictment is there is a broader question about whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Wikileaks and through WikiLeaks with Russian intelligence who was working with WikiLeaks to strategically release stolen information to help the campaign. And I'm not talking about whether that's a crime. I just want to read for you Paragraph 12 in the indictment after the July 22nd 2016 release of stolen DNC e-mails by WikiLeaks a senior Trump campaign official was directed to contact Roger Stone about any additional releases and what other damaging information Wikileaks had regarding the Clinton campaign. And then it goes on later in the indictment Let me finish it goes on later in the indictment. Talk about how Stone was talking back and forth to Wikileaks through other people and then it says Stone therefore told the Trump campaign about potential future releases of damaging material by WikiLeaks so the question that becomes and WikiLeaks of course called by Mike Pompeo the CIA director a nonstate hostile intelligence service abetted by state actors like Russia. So I don't think you can read this indictment and say oh the Trump campaign is clear of any coordination at all in the release of stolen information.
Andy McCarthy: [00:08:22] Marie what you're doing now is what they've been doing all along which is moving the goalposts again because you know no no no no.
Marie Harf: [00:08:31] Yeah you did.
Andy McCarthy: [00:08:33] I'm talking about what they said in March of 2017. In March of 2017 what they were talking about was the intelligence report that had just been put out by Ed Obama his direction toward the end of the administration which talked about cyber espionage which is a crime. That's the reason that's the only reason that you would assign a prosecutor to it. There's a lot of awful things that you could say about trying to obtain information whether it was stolen or not that was damaging to your political opponents and try to get it out into the public domain or at least try to get your brain around what it was that other people had that might be put out. That's not a crime. There's a lot of political downside to it. A lot of people are outraged by it and the fact that a campaign would work in cahoots with the with Whitey leaks. I don't blame them I feel the same way I think what Pompei said about WikiLeaks is absolutely true. I think it's despicable that Americans would work with WikiLeaks on anything campaign or rather lies. But what this investigation was about this criminal investigation involving a prosecutor was whether you could prove a crime beyond a reasonable doubt. And the only crime here was hacking whether Wikileaks had the information and they were trying to figure out what it was and try to encourage them to put it out there is a different matter.
Guy Benson: [00:10:08] So Andy help me out here because there's a few things within the document that I've read and Byron York has a good piece on each count and some of the big picture questions some of which look maybe OK or exculpatory for the Trump campaign. Others not necessarily so much. If you're just the average person out there and you see that Roger Stone who had ties to Trump and Trump World who was getting text messages from and in contact with for a period of time Steve Bannon who is very much a major part of that world and his associates at the time while he was in the process at least of trying to figure out what WikiLeaks had on Hillary Clinton and these hacked e-mails then Roger Stone comes before Congress and apparently lies all over the place provably then tries to tamper with witnesses telling people you know don't testify don't tell the truth. I mean if this is all just sort of over nonsense and we're not really supposed to be that concerned about the Trump campaign's vulnerability here legally why are various people connected to the campaign lying before Congress under oath.
Andy McCarthy: [00:11:25] Well I think the reason that stone is lying I mean what happens in these political campaigns guy is that people do very unsavory things and when they get called on it they don't want to cop to it. So it's kind of a common place for them to lie about it and once they start to get involved with other people like Stone was with Credico and you know on the one hand I'm sorry Randy Credico is a left wing comedian turned radio host who had connection that is to say personal contact with Julian Assange in August of 2016 and who was informing Stone about what he thought Assange had in connection with the Clinton campaign and was passing along or at least Stone asked him to pass along request for information from stone to try to get a handle on what WikiLeaks said which they had to ask for because they weren't involved with Wikileaks operation.
Marie Harf: [00:12:46] Until they started coordinating releases of stolen information with them.
Andy McCarthy: [00:12:51] Well that's coordinating is a loaded word it's kind of like collusion.
Marie Harf: [00:12:55] Oh yes and and I'll stand by it
Andy McCarthy: [00:12:56] We're trying to know what they were trying to do was find out what Assange's plan was and understand when he was going to release them. That doesn't mean that they had any control over when he was going.
Marie Harf: [00:13:09] There are numerous parts of this indictment where it says they passed on Stone passed on messages about when things might be helpful and certain issues to dig into in the stolen material like Hillary's health. So there was back and forth.
Andy McCarthy: [00:13:22] And where and where is it where's I have. They didn't have it. He has to ask about it.
Marie Harf: [00:13:29] Just because you fail doesn't mean you weren't trying to. Andy I just want to push. I worked on a presidential campaign. OK. This is not normal behavior. This is not normal.
Andy McCarthy: [00:13:39] Who said it was normal behavior. We're talking about criminal behavior
Marie Harf: [00:13:42] But you just you just said when guy asked you why they would lie you said well when people work on campaigns they do a lot of stuff and then when they get caught they don't always want to cop to it.
Marie Harf: [00:13:52] That's not right. I that. Nothing like this has ever happened before why were all these people afraid.
Andy McCarthy: [00:13:59] No no no we're talking. What he asked me about was the subset of people who were charged with crime.
Marie Harf: [00:14:05] Right. So why are they lying Why are they lying.
Andy McCarthy: [00:14:09] Because they've done things that they know were unsavory and they've put pressure on people to not cooperate with us.
Guy Benson: [00:14:17] Do you agree that if it regardless of what it was.
Andy McCarthy: [00:14:21] Why is that so difficult to understand.
Marie Harf: [00:14:24] I understand what you just said but the first time you answered guys question you made it a general while people work on these kinds of campaigns you have to play it very carefully.
Andy McCarthy: [00:14:33] He asked me you could play it back. He asked me about people who get charged. I didn't mean to say and I don't think I did say that everybody who works on a campaign does unsavory stuff that they do that they then lie about. What about people who actually get charged. And why did they do the things they do that get them charged.
Guy Benson: [00:14:53] Right. And very quickly we have very little time left. Regardless of the bigger picture here which is still murky and we don't know all the connections and vulnerabilities legally for some of these people regardless of how Stone ended up before Congress. If you show up before Congress and you lie under oath. I mean isn't that a legitimate thing to indict someone for and prosecute someone for we can't have. I mean that seems like kind of basic right.
Andy McCarthy: [00:15:20] Yeah I think I think the charges against stone are entirely legitimate.
Guy Benson: [00:15:25] All right. That is a good note to end on. Andy McCarthy these are confusing times. We really appreciate your time especially on a Friday to join us this evening and shed some light. Andy McCarthy our friend FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR FORMER PROSECUTOR We look forward to having you back. And we look forward to coming back right after this break.