The Corner

Law & the Courts

The Issue Is Not Roger Stone’s Lurid Personal Life but Equality under the Law

Roger Stone is flanked by his attorneys in Fort Lauderdale, January 25, 2019. (Reuters/Joe Skipper)

The issues of special Robert Mueller’s indictment of Roger Stone have nothing to do with his personal life. His sexual habits should be of no concern to anyone. And what is so funny about the Internet jokes about (a still presumed innocent) Stone enjoying rape once he’s in prison?

The issues are instead threefold: One, given that Stone has said so many contradictory things, were his public statements lies and his sworn statements true, vice versa, neither or both?

Two, why after 21 months, is the special counsel still hounding minor transitory Trump officials (Stone was fired from the Trump campaign way back in August 2015) in hopes of flipping them to find proof of almost anything against Trump? Stone, like all other Americans indicted by Mueller so far, is not charged with any crime close to “collusion.” We are now well past the descent of this investigation into “show me the man, and I’ll show the crime.”

Three, the Stone indictment raises real questions of equality under the law.

If Stone lied under oath to Congress as Mueller alleges, then by all means prosecute him to the fullest.

But what exactly are the federal criteria that adjudicate when and where lying under oath to Congress or to federal authorities is a prosecutable crime? Is it perceived useful only in Robert Muller’s hunt for incriminating evidence against Trump, as in the case of Michael Flynn?

After all, nearly the entire Obama administration intelligence hierarchy not only lied under oath to Congress, but in some cases confessed to such.

None were indicted, certainly not the ubiquitous current pundit James Clapper, former director of National Intelligence, who in 2014 flat out lied under oath about NSA domestic surveillance on Americans. When caught, he confessed that he had given the “least untruthful answer.”.Will Stone use that rejoinder?

Not John Brennan who in 2014 lied under oath that the CIA he directed had not tapped in to Senate staff computers. And in 2011 he earlier had lied when he publicly asserted that there had been not a single instance of collateral killing by drone. And he has likely further lied in his current assertions about his own knowledge of the Steele dossier and its odyssey from government circles to the media.

Not James Comey. To a joint congressional committee, while under oath, on 245 occasions he infamously claimed he either did not know or could not remember, and he seemed mostly to consider the questioning a joke. His assertions about the use and details of the Steele dossier for a FISA warrant likely were not true. He routinely misled Trump by hiding his knowledge of the Clinton origins of the Steele dossier, and he lied in his assurances to Trump that he was not under FBI investigation. Comey’s testimonies about leaks cannot be reconciled with statements of his deputy Andrew McCabe.

And not Andrew McCabe, who at least on four occasions probably lied about FBI leaks to federal investigators, and later argued that he misunderstood or was misunderstood.

It may be one thing (although it should not be) for private citizens to lie under oath to Congress, but when four of the top officials of our intelligence agencies have lied under oath, and in two cases admitted such, and none were indicted, and all have at times been central players in the matters Mueller is investigating throughout the entire Russian collusion fiasco, then what is left of the American idea of equality under the law?

Answer? Not much at all.

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