President Donald Trump’s longtime political ally Roger Stone invoked the Fifth Amendment’s protection against self-incrimination as he declined to share documents and testimony with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, according to a letter posted Tuesday by the committee’s top Democrat, Sen. Dianne Feinstein.
“Mr. Stone’s invocation of his Fifth Amendment privilege must be understood by all to be the assertion of a Constitutional right by an innocent citizen who denounces secrecy,” Stone’s attorney, Grant Smith, said in the letter, dated Dec. 3.
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Stone is under scrutiny in special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, in part over allegations that he had foreknowledge of WikiLeaks’ dump of Clinton campaign emails the month before the election. Stone has denied any advance knowledge, despite a series of tweets foreshadowing the contents of the emails, which he attributed to educated guesses and indirect information provided through an intermediary with WikiLeaks.
Stone told POLITICO on Monday that he doesn’t have a pact with Trump’s legal team to share defense strategies, unlike former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who is in jail after being convicted of tax and bank fraud. But Stone has largely aligned his public messaging on Mueller with the president’s, frequently bashing the special counsel’s tactics.
Stone’s approach earned him a supportive tweet from Trump this week, when the president praised Stone for having the “guts” to refuse to testify against him.
In his letter to Feinstein, Stone’s attorney said his client simply wants his information aired in public, and not subject to selective leaks that marked his closed-door testimony to the House Intelligence Committee last year. Stone had asked for that appearance to be public, but the committee declined and interviewed him privately.
Smith also said Feinstein’s request for documents was “far too overbroad, far too overreaching, far too wide ranging.”
“Mr. Stone respectfully declines to produce any documents and declines the invitation for an interview,” Smith wrote.
Smith noted he expects Stone’s House Intelligence Committee testimony to be posted publicly in the next few weeks.
Robert Buschel, another Stone attorney, told POLITICO that his client’s decision to spurn Feinstein’s request was not a reflection of increasing legal peril from Mueller. Rather, he said, it’s because the Senate Democratic minority “leaks too much.”
“The Ranking minority member tweeted out Mr. Stone’s letter without as much as contacting his counsel to discuss. This proves Mr. Stone’s point,” Buschel said.