Roger Stone, a longtime political adviser to former President Donald Trump, accused the FBI of becoming President Biden’s “personal Gestapo,” and described the subpoena he received from the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol Hill riot as “harassment.”
Stone, who was pardoned by Trump after being convicted of lying to lawmakers about Russian election interference, slammed the FBI.
“We have a group of politicized thugs at the top of the FBI who are using the FBI … as Joe Biden‘s personal Gestapo,” he told John Catsimatidis on his WABC 770 AM radio show in an interview that aired Sunday.
He also questioned the reasoning behind the FBI’s decision to raid the home of James O’Keefe, the founder of Project Veritas, as part of an investigation into the theft of Biden’s daughter Ashley’s diary before the 2020 election.
Project Veritas did not publish the contents of the diary, but the National File blog released handwritten pages from it about a week before the election.
“If a journalist has [Biden’s] daughter’s diary, particularly if the journalist hasn’t even published it, or commented on it, why would you search their home? Why would you seize their computers? It’s very chilling,” Stone said.
Roger Stone questioned the reasoning behind the FBI’s decision to raid the home of Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe.Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
The FBI was investigating the theft of President Biden’s daughter Ashley’s diary before the 2020 election. Tom Brenner/Getty Images
He accused the Jan. 6 committee of using subpoenas like “press releases.”
“I immediately began thinking how many of my ‘Roger Stone Still Did Nothing Wrong’ T-shirts can I sell to raise the money for my legal defense. … This is epically expensive. I’ve gotten 11 harassment civil suits against me — all baseless, unsubstantiated, but tremendously sensationalized — dismissed,” Stone said. –– ADVERTISEMENT ––
“I’ve still got six to go, not to mention [Congress’] new level of harassment. … They put
enormous financial pressure on you, and they seek to write … a subpoena as if it’s a press release,” Stone said. “Isn’t it interesting that they released the subpoena on me to the press before my lawyers even received it and had a chance to read it. What’s that about?” he asked.
Do we really want citizens, even unpopular ones, treated this way?
We all want the FBI to be tough on criminals, but should there be reasonable limits to how they treat citizens who have yet to be convicted of a crime? Even if popular sentiment is running against those citizens? I think so, and allow me to explain why.
The massive FBI contingent deployed on January 25th to storm the home of Mueller probe suspect Roger Stone is “quite normal” for the FBI ( although admits that Stone has “no criminal record and is charged primarily with a white collar-ish sort of crime.”
Stone’s wife, Nydia, who was not charged with anything, says FBI agents burst into their bedroom and demanded “at gunpoint” that she get out of bed. The 72-year old she says was then “marched out to the street in front of [their] house wearing only a night gown and in bare feet.”
It was, she says, “humiliating,” and the “most terrifying thing [she had] ever experienced.” That and more was in a fundraising email (so consider that) from Mrs. Stone, and some details in it are mistaken (the agents didn’t have AK-47’s), but to knowledge the gist of her account of the raid hasn’t been much disputed. It was “wholly un-appropriate ” to use of as many as 29 agents – many whom were dressed up like soldiers and were holding assault rifles in a firing stance – to conduct a pre-dawn arrest in a quite Ft. Lauderdale neighborhood.
Remarkably, even more law enforcement could have been present as local police may have been in a boat behind Stone’s home.
Lets be clear: I’m no promoter of Stone – and I want to see him held accountable if the allegations are proven – but I also believe that endorsing the FBI’s handling of this particular arrest is a mistake. I’m convinced that in times like we are living through today It’s especially important to ensure that those among us who are accused of wrongdoing are treated fairly by law enforcement, irrespective of the accused’s popularity or lack of it.
The issue here is hardly a partisan one. Rather, the question is whether we should accept as “quite normal” heavily militarized policing being applied to those who have no criminal record or history of violence, including unarmed citizens in their sixties and seventies.
Who believes it takes 29 heavily-armed and highly-trained FBI law enforcement agents to subdue a 66 year-old man, and to stop him from destroying evidence (even though Stone had months to do so if he were so inclined). Furthermore, in this country, people are presumed innocent under the law. News flash – what may be in an indictment is a really just an allegation, not an established “fact.” Not even the FBI gets to be judge and jury…not yet anyway.
Among other things, I have to wonder if Rosenberg realizes that the so-called “threat” he relies upon – the hyperbolic phrase “prepare to die” – is a popular meme from the 1987 romantic comedy The Princess Bride.
Stone’s physical harmlessness may be why a judge immediately released him on bail after the arrest.
Moreover, ask yourself this: is the FBI really so awash in personnel and resources that they can dedicate 29 agents to an arrest of a single individual with no criminal record and who is charged “primarily with a white collar-ish sort of crime”? What example does that make for the thousands of police all over the nation who serve warrants on felons with records of actual convictions of violent crimes?
If it is “normal” to use 29+ heavily armed law enforcement agents to arrest someone with no history of violence, what does that say to local police?
It should be troubling among all law enforcement personnel this kind of militarized tactics were used by the FBI employed in the Stone case. Specifically, Pew’s research shows that those “more likely to endorse the use of aggressive or physically harsh tactics” are those “who feel they have grown more callous since starting their job.” They are also those who “say they are frequently angered or frustrated by their jobs” and “are more likely to have been involved in a physical or verbal confrontation with a citizen in the past month or to have fired their service weapon sometime in their careers.”
Accordingly, what then should we understand about the attitude of today’s FBI leaders when they choose to employ “aggressive or physically harsh tactics” in a case like this one? Have they grown “callous”? Are they “frequently angered or frustrated by their jobs”? Should we be concerned that they are “more likely” to generate a “confrontation with a citizen”? All of that is, or should be, concerning.
Hear this: lots of highly qualified, diligent FBI agents are serving with honor, but this does question their patriotism and their personal mindsets. What shouldn’t be disputed is the lack of appropriateness in scope displayed by the leaders who designed the raid.
If a 29-person entourage is normal law enforcement procedure, why does this report from NBC News show the U.S. Marshalls using teams of less than a dozen officers to capture as many as 300 often dangerous suspects every day? Moreover, why were only 12 FBI agents used in the “no-knock” raid to arrest Paul Manafort in 2017? In that operation a source told the Washington Times that “[agents felt up Mrs. Manafort lying in bed to see if she had guns.”
Does the FBI really think that Roger Stone is potentially more dangerous than a highly-trained SEAL with the experience of multiple combat tours?
Safety and reputation of law enforcement
To reiterate, everyone wants FBI and other law enforcement officers to be safe. So let’s ask: does the use of SWAT team tactics like those employed in Stones’ case really protect law enforcement or reduce crime?
Decide for yourself: a study published by the last September by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that militarization of law enforcement “fails to enhance police safety or reduce crime but may harm police reputation”. The reputational harm ought to be of concern to the FBI since there are indications that public support is eroding, and even that most “likely voters” want a special prosecutor appointed to investigate it.
Moreover, in 2015 that there are a “staggering 20,000 or more estimated no-knock [SWAT] raids every year across America,” and that the “SWAT raids are far more dangerous to civilians than they are to police.” Unlike the Manafort raid, Stone’s was not a “no-knock” operation, but last year the New York Times pointed out that:
The casualties [in SWAT raids] have occurred in the execution of no-knock warrants, which give the police prior judicial authority to force entry without notice, as well as warrants that require the police to knock and announce themselves before breaking down doors. Often, there is little difference. (Emphasis added.)
Additionally, was the raid conducted in a heavy-handed way in order to soften up the citizen for prosecutors? Typically, the element of surprise is necessary to preclude a suspect from fleeing or destroying evidence – and this requires what we call in the military “operations security” or OPSEC.
In Stone’s case, there obviously was no effective OPSEC as CNN was on the scene waiting for the FBI to arrive for the raid. In other words, if it were really true that the tactics employed were intended to keep Stone from fleeing (even though the government would know he had no valid passport) or from destroying evidence, he had plenty of time to do both given the tip-off the CNN presence provided.
Did the FBI have another motive for the way they conducted the raid? Some former FBI agents seem to suggest that may be the case. The Boston Herald quotes ex-FBI agent Peter Yachmetz as saying the raid was “was inappropriate and improper,” adding that the FBI was “trying to get a point across and it was leaked to CNN. Why?” The Herald further reported:
It’s a message for everyone else connected to the investigation,” said retired FBI supervisory special agent Todd Hulsey. “They are saying, ‘If you think we have something on you, we are going to get you.’ And it’s going to be an unpleasant arrest.
“Basically, it’s a pressure tactic,” Hulsey added. “Mueller and his people want to raise their stress level and cause people to cooperate.”
So how did CNN know about the raid in advance? It says “it camped outside Stone’s house with cameras because of unusual activity reporters had noticed at the D.C. federal courthouse and the special counsel’s office.” You be the judge: are we to believe the FBI (and Mueller’s team) are so unskilled at OPSEC so as to be so obvious with their intentions, or was the activity meant to make sure the media was present in order to humiliate and pressure the citizen and his wife?
I don’t know Stone, but I do get why some (many?) people dislike him. But should distaste for a citizen influence how he is treated by law enforcement? Should the FBI be squandering resources on apprehending someone with “no criminal record and [who] is charged primarily with a white collar-ish sort of crime,” when hundreds of thousands of dangerous felons are loose in this country?
Senator Lindsey Graham has rightly asked the DoJ important questions about the raid, and we ought to carefully examine the responses.
No one disputes that we need a strong and professional FBI to counter the complex range of dangerous threats in the world today. But as with any powerful governmental entity, we also need to scrutinize its activities – even when the target of them is distasteful to so many. As Graham recently said of the FBI, “Someone needs to watch those that watch us.”
This ought to be a concern for everybody, irrespective of where one may be on the political spectrum. Are we not to speak out merely because – this time – the government happened to be coming for someone perceived by some partisans as unlikable? What if it did become acceptable and standard practice, “the norm,” in our country? Think about it.