Legal Experts: Roger Stone Could Plead Guilty After He Realizes ‘Full Weight of the Evidence’ Against Him
President Donald Trump‘s longtime friend and adviser Roger Stone will accept a plea deal from Special Counsel Robert Mueller once his attorneys realize the “full weight” of what they’re up against, legal experts say.
CNN’s crime and criminal justice correspondent Katelyn Polantz on Thursday reported that Mueller’s office had obtained a mountain of evidence against Stone, including “multiple hard drives containing several terabytes of information consisting of, among other things, FBI case reports, search warrant applications and results (e.g., Apple iCloud accounts and email accounts), bank and financial records, and the contents of numerous physical devices (e.g., cellular phones, computers, and hard drives).”
The news of Mueller’s evidence trove prompted a flurry of speculation about what’s in store for the infamous political operative and Richard M. Nixon aficionado.
“Translation from today’s Mueller filing in the Stone case: he has the receipts,” national security attorney Bradley P. Moss tweeted after news of the special counsel’s disclosures broke. “All of them.”
Moss then leveled a prediction:
I am standing by what I said on the day Stone was indicted: once his team sees the full weight of the evidence Mueller’s team has in their possession, they’ll tell Roger to suck it up and cut a deal.
Law&Crime followed up and asked Moss to elaborate on how this all might shake out.
“I think it all depends on how Stone behaves going forward and whether there actually is more ‘there’ there,” Moss said via email. “Obviously, if Mueller’s indictment is truly all that [the Department of Justice]intends to bring and arguably could bring, then the only ‘deal’ to be cut would be one that reduces Stone’s jail time in exchange for sparing the public the expense of a trial.”
But Moss tends to believe Mueller has a bit more on Stone than what’s contained in the original indictment.
“However, given the voluminous amount of information Mueller apparently is prepared to produce in discovery, this sounds like more than just a routine white collar false statement and witness tampering case,” Moss continued. “It would appear that Mueller has most (but maybe not all) of the pieces to bring criminal conspiracy charges against Stone and members of the campaign. The $64,000 question is what does Mueller need from Stone in terms of actual testimony, as opposed to merely the electronic devices the FBI seized when they arrested Stone. If he only needed the devices, there is little leverage Stone would actually have to play for a [Michael] Cohen-like plea deal.”
Former federal prosecutor and current CNN analyst Elie Honig also said a plea deal could be in the offing–but wondered to what extent it might satisfy either Mueller or Stone.
“A straight, non-cooperation plea is always possible and makes some sense,” he told Law&Crime. “Stone avoids a potentially very ugly trial (for him and for others) and doesn’t have to cooperate. Mueller locks in another conviction. But the questions are (1) is Mueller willing to accept a plea without cooperation and (2) can they agree to a number? I’d assume Mueller will insist on significant prison time and I question whether Stone will agree to that.”
MSNBC legal analyst and former federal prosecutor Mimi Rocah questioned the viability of Stone as a cooperating witness.
“I cannot imagine [Mueller] wanting to cooperate with Stone unless [Mueller] had a smoking gun in the form of documentary evidence or a recording that Stone could help interpret,” Rocah told Law&Crime. “I’ve cooperated with a lot of really complicated people in my career and I would not want to rely on Stone for facts. So I think the possibility of that option is slim.”
Rocah elaborated on what does seem more likely here.
“He could go to trial or plead guilty,” she said. “Since the obstruction case against him seems very strong, I don’t think prosecutors have much incentive to offer him much in a plea agreement. He can always plead to the indictment but he will be facing a couple of years in jail likely. And I still think superseding charges against him are possible.”
And what might a superseding indictment concern itself with? Rocah explained via Twitter:
Bank & financial records aren’t common evidence of obstruction & witness tampering crimes like those in Stone indictment. Could suggest other possible crimes were listed in the search warrant application. Maybe explains why Trump/Graham are so worked up about the search? https://t.co/3j3rdLvYSG
— Mimi Rocah (@Mimirocah1) January 31, 2019
[Image via Drew Angerer/Getty Images]