Roger Stone denies Donald Trump committed witness tampering by praising his ‘guts’
President Trump’s former campaign adviser Roger Stone on Tuesday denied that Mr. Trump committed witness tampering a day before by publicly praising his unwillingness to testify against him.
Mr. Stone pushed back on social media after several lawyers suggested that the president may have obstructed justice by applauding his former adviser’s “guts” on Twitter.
“No ‘Legal Scholar’ who isn’t a drooling [Trump-hating] libtard thinks the President’s tweet constitutes ‘witness tampering,’ ” Mr. Stone wrote in an Instagram post.
“I’m proud to have the praise of my friend of 40 years,” Mr. Stone said in another. “Witness tampering my ass.”
Mr. Trump faced fresh scrutiny after mentioning Mr. Stone on Twitter early Monday, moments after ripping Michael Cohen, the president’s former personal attorney, for cooperating with federal investigators.
“You mean he can do all of the TERRIBLE, unrelated to Trump, things having to do with fraud, big loans, Taxis, etc., and not serve a long prison term?” Mr. Trump tweeted about Mr. Cohen. “He lied for this outcome and should, in my opinion, serve a full and complete sentence.”
″ ‘I will never testify against Trump,’ ” Mr. Trump several tweeted minutes later. “This statement was recently made by Roger Stone, essentially stating that he will not be forced by a rogue and out of control prosecutor to make up lies and stories about ‘President Trump.’ Nice to know that some people still have ‘guts!’ ”
Legal experts subsequently claimed that Mr. Trump may have obstructed justice in the form of witness tampering a crime that outlaws attempts to “influence, intimidate or impede” grand jury proceedings.
“Federal law makes it a crime to do anything to dissuade, try to postpone or delay someone’s testimony,” said Elie Honig, a former assistant U.S. attorney with the Southern District of New York. “When you look at the president’s tweets from this morning, if I was a prosecutor and we had a wiretap up on someone’s phone and they said those exact things that the president tweeted, I would say, ‘Wow, we just got him on obstruction,’ ” he told CNN.
“This is genuinely looking like witness tampering,” echoed Neal Katyal, a former U.S. acting solicitor general. “The fact it’s done out in the open is no defense. Trump is genuinely melting down, and no good lawyer can represent him under these [circumstances].”
Mr. Stone, 66, served as an adviser to Mr. Trump’s presidential election campaign through 2015. He later made repeated statements during the race about the WikiLeaks website and its publication in 2016 of material damaging to Mr. Trump’s opponent, former Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton.
Special counsel Robert Mueller’s office is investigating the circumstances surrounding those disclosures as part of the Justice Department probe into alleged Russian election interference and related matters.
Russian hackers sourced the Democratic material published by WikiLeaks, according to U.S. officials. Mr. Mueller’s office is investigating matters including whether anyone involved in Mr. Trump’s campaign coordinated in their release.
Mr. Stone has repeatedly denied involvement.