Mueller probably doesn't expect Stone's cooperation

Mueller probably doesn't expect Stone's cooperation

by digby

Former prosecutor Barbara McQuade makes the point that the charges against Roger Stone are serious in themselves, but then points to the evidence that says this is about much more than that:

While the indictment is a worthy pursuit on its own, it also hints at more charges to come. First, some of the language indicates that Mueller continues to explore coordination between the Trump campaign, WikiLeaks and Russia to interfere with the 2016 election.

Paragraph 2 notes that in June 2016, the Democratic National Committee “publicly announced that it had been hacked by Russian government actors.” And paragraph 12 alleges that after WikiLeaks released some of the stolen emails in July, “a senior Trump Campaign official was directed to contact Stone about any additional releases and what other damaging information (WikiLeaks) had regarding the Clinton campaign.”

Together, these two paragraphs allege that when this directive was made, the Trump campaign knew that WikiLeaks was working with Russia. It further suggests that the directive was made by a high-level official in the campaign. Who would have the authority to direct a senior Trump campaign official but an even more senior Trump campaign official, or even Trump himself?

This allegation could support a charge against these individuals for violating campaign finance laws, which prohibit soliciting a “thing of value” from a foreign national. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is an Australian native with Ecuadorian citizenship. If a campaign official asked Stone to obtain from WikiLeaks information that was harmful to Clinton, that information could be characterized as opposition research, certainly something campaigns regard as a “thing of value.” These allegations suggest that campaign officials could face criminal exposure for soliciting damaging emails about Clinton.

More 2016 fraud conspirators could be indicted

Second, the Stone indictment also suggests a basis for charging conspiracy to defraud the United States. The Stone indictment identifies two people only by description, “Person 1” and “Person 2,” identified as writer Jerome Corsi and radio host Randy Credico, respectively. This naming convention is used when the Department of Justice refers to people in an indictment without charging them. The fact that Corsi and Credico were not charged suggests that they are cooperating. If so, then they can provide Mueller with context behind some of the messages cited in the indictment.

For instance, the indictment alleges that Corsi and Stone discussed exploiting the released emails to harm Hillary Clinton's campaign by “suggesting HRC old, memory bad, has stroke — neither he nor she well.” This kind of coordination could be evidence of their involvement in a conspiracy to defraud the United States by interfering with the fair administration of elections, the same theory that Mueller has used in the two indictments he has filed against Russians.

It is not hard to imagine a superseding indictment in the hacking case to add other individuals who participated in the conspiracy, defined by the special counsel not only as hacking into computers and stealing emails, but also staging “releases of stolen documents to interfere with the 2016 U.S. presidential election.” Any Trump campaign members or associates who knowingly helped to coordinate the timing or messaging around the release of the emails could be guilty as co-conspirators.
Who else has lied to Congress?

Third, this indictment shows how Mueller regards lies to Congress. Mueller is likely scouring the transcripts of all other Trump associates who have testified before Congress, such as Jared Kushner and Donald Trump Jr., for statements inconsistent with other evidence. One other clue that suggests Mueller is looking at lies to Congress appears in the sentencing memorandum that Mueller filed in December in the case against Michael Cohen, in which Cohen admitted to lying to Congress about negotiations with Russia for a Trump Tower in Moscow.

The sentencing memo lists areas in which Cohen’s cooperation had been particularly valuable in the investigation, including information about “preparing and circulating his response to the congressional inquiries.” If Mueller finds that Cohen worked with other Trump associates to coordinate their lies, you can expect charges to follow.

Standing alone, the Stone indictment charges serious crimes. In context, it portends more charges to come.

As I've pointed out before, Nunes and the other Trump henchmen did these people no favors when they sent the message that lying was no problem (which they clearly did.) They could have immunized all them, as the congress did for Ollie North, which would have protected them. They didn't. And now all these Trumpies who lied are facing legal problems.