Trump Blindsided By Secret Government Document Release

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Longtime Trump associate Roger Stone is one of half a dozen current or former confidantes of President Donald Trump who have faced criminal charges as a result of the Russia investigation. Stone was abruptly found guilty of all of the government’s charges against him covering a dramatic obstruction of justice scheme, and now, the federal government is apparently preparing to release records of the FBI’s investigation into Stone. The material, including search and seizure warrants, could provide new, specific insight into the scope of Stone’s schemes and specifically, what tipped off the feds.

The material is set to be released as a result of a court case brought by a coalition of media outlets including high-profile names like the Associated Press and CNN. The media outlets’ lawyer Matthew Kelley “initially requested the government hand over the documents in 30 days, citing the slow rolling case and a desire by the news outlets to provide the public with timely information,” according to Courthouse News. But, D.C. federal Judge Christopher Cooper opted to impose a 60 day timeline for the document release, which was the option that the government presented (and Stone’s own lawyer Robert Buschel supported) after initially resisting handing over any documents at all.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron Zelinsky had claimed that “the release of secret information was a risk to ongoing investigations and the privacy of third parties involved in Stone’s case,” but Kelley pointed out that the Justice Department is free to redact any information that could compromise ongoing investigations and that could implicate individuals who aren’t already publicly associated with the case. That would exclude former top Trump adviser Steve Bannon, who testified at Stone’s trial and was in contact with him about Russian election interference during the 2016 campaign season — contacts which Stone initially attempted to conceal.

He tried to connect with WikiLeaks, which was releasing emails that Russians stole from Democrats, and coordinate them and the Trump campaign.

Stone is set to be sentenced on February 20. His case was one of the last major lingering effects of the Russia investigation, which included federal criminal charges against and jail time for former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, former longtime Trump “fixer” Michael Cohen, and a few others. Now, investigations into the Trump team have largely shifted to the scandal of the president’s own attempt to get Ukraine to investigate his domestic political opponents, as if he learned absolutely nothing from the debacle following his 2016 campaign’s connections with Russia. Already, two close associates of personal Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani have been charged with federal campaign finance law violations, including illegal donations to a Texas Republican Congressman meant to pad their attempt to get Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch fired because she was supposedly in the way of their Ukraine scheme.

Trump has consistently downplayed any and all of the allegations against him, insisting that just about every investigation is a “witch hunt,” no matter the sheer volume of criminal charges against his associates. Now, he’s impeached over his role in the Ukraine scheme and awaiting a hotly contested trial in the Senate.