A defiant Roger Stone on Sunday denounced the “Gestapo tactics” of federal authorities and denied the allegations against him just two days after being arrested by the FBI on seven felony charges, including witness tampering, obstruction and lying.
The charges against the longtime political operative, and associate of President Donald Trump, stem from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Stone is charged with lying about his role in the Trump campaign’s attempts to communicate with WikiLeaks about Clinton campaign emails that had been stolen by Russian agents.
Stone, 66, denied doing anything wrong during an interview on ABC’s “This Week” and called the manner of his arrest – which took place in a pre-dawn raid at his Florida home on Friday – “extraordinary.” He said the number of agents who were involved was unnecessary because he does not own a firearm and – because he says he has an expired passport – did not pose a flight risk.
Post indictment: Stone mocks Mueller with doctored photo on Instagram
Russia investigation: Mueller pushes deeper into Trump campaign
Who is Stone: Longtime Republican operative worked on campaigns from Richard Nixon to Donald Trump
“I’ve been under investigation for two years. I have destroyed nothing. But if I were going to destroy evidence, wouldn’t I have done it a long time ago?” he said. “They could simply have called my lawyers and I would have turned myself in.”
After his arrest, Stone was released on $250,000 bail.
Stone claimed the FBI was making “an expensive show of force to try to depict me as Public Enemy No. 1, the O.G.,” he said, using the acronym for “original gangster.”
“It’s an attempt to poison the jury pool,” he said. “These are Gestapo tactics.”
Stone says everything he said or wrote about the Clinton campaign emails in 2016 was based on what had been made public, and that he had no advance knowledge about what WikiLeaks would publish.
In the indictment against him, Mueller’s team alleges that “a senior Trump campaign official” was directed to talk with Stone about further WikiLeaks releases. Stone said he believes that official was Rick Gates, an associate of former campaign manager Paul Manafort.
But Stone said that Gates is lying if he is the one claiming such a conversation took place.
“I never spoke about this matter with Rick Gates. But I’m mindful of the special counsel’s ability to induce people to say things that are not true, particularly people who are seeking a reduction in their sentence,” he said.
He also implied former White House adviser Steve Bannon might also be behind the claims in the indictment because he has an “ax to grind.”
“I urged the president to fire Steve Bannon,” Stone said. “I suspect that I am not his favorite person.”
Stone said he never spoke to Trump about WikiLeaks, Russia or the Mueller investigation.
He said the investigation into where the emails came from is “meant to distract from the content of those emails, which demonstrated the corruption and dirty tricks of the Clinton campaign.”
Stone said it was an “unproven” claim that Russians stole those emails and he compared himself to Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg, who exposed White House dishonesty about progress in the Vietnam War.
“I tried to do the same thing that Daniel Ellsberg did, for which the New York Times and the Washington Post called him a hero, although I never received any stolen or hacked material and handed it to anyone,” he said.
Contributing: The Associated Press