Acting AG Whitaker: 'Deeply Concerning to Me' How CNN Found Out About Stone's Pre-Dawn Arrest

By Susan Jones | February 8, 2019 | 11:16am EST
Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker appeared before the House Judiciary Committee on Feb. 8, 2019. (Photo: Screen capture/C-SPAN)

(CNSNews.com) - "Were you aware of Roger Stone's indictment before it became public?" Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, asked Acting (and soon-to-be-departing) Attorney General Matt Whitaker at a hearing on Friday.

Whitaker said yes, he's been briefed on the Special Counsel's investigation: "That would have been considered a development that I would have been briefed on, and I was briefed on that."

Collins noted that a CNN team was waiting outside Stone's home in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, last month, before dawn, when dozens of FBI agents in tactical gear showed up to arrest him at gunpoint.

 

Stone later told reporters that a simple request to his attorney would have produced the same result with less of a spectacle -- but a public spectacle was the point, Stone argued, to make him look like "public enemy number one."

On Friday, Whitaker said the he was aware -- and deeply concerned -- about CNN being there to cover Stone's arrest:

"I was aware of that, and it was deeply concerning to me, as to how CNN found out about that," Whitaker said.

(CNN insists it was not tipped off about Stone's arrest. CNN said it was just good reporting -- noticing "unusual activity" at the grand jury venue in Washington that prompted a CNN team to wait outside Stone's house on that particular Friday morning.)

"Did somebody at the Department of Justice singly share a draft indictment with CNN prior to Stone's arrest -- or prior to a grand jury's finding of a true bill?" Collins asked.

After a pause, Whitaker said, "The court had a sealed indictment that, after Mr. Stone's arrest, was unsealed. Consistent with all its prior indictments, DOJ's basic policy for transparency in criminal cases is that the indictment is posted on the DOJ webpage promptly after it was unsealed and then media outlets were notified.

"We do not know of any, and I do not know of any other Special Counsel's Office notice, or DOJ notice, to media outlets regarding Mr. Stone's indictment or his arrest. Otherwise, you know, I -- I really, as I sit here today, don't have any other information that I can talk about regarding Mr. Stone."

Collins followed up, asking Whitaker if he views it as a problem within DOJ that CNN may have been tipped off:

"Mr. Collins, I share your concern with the possibility that a media outlet was tipped off to Mr. Stone's either indictment or arrest before it was made, that that information was available to the public," Whitaker said.

Collins ended that particular line of questioning right there.

He then asked Whitaker if Bruce Ohr is still employed by the Justice Department.

"To answer your question directly, Mr. Collins, Bruce Ohr is currently employed with the Department of Justice," Whitaker said.

Collins asked if Whitaker is aware of Ohr's involvement in many of the "investigational problems" that have surfaced at the FBI in recent years.

"Mr. Collins, I am generally aware of Mr. Ohr being -- questions being raised about his behavior at the Department of Justice," Whitaker said.

Collins asked Whitaker if he believes Ohr -- in transmitting information from the Steele dossier to the FBI, even after Christopher Steele was fired by the FBI -- was operating outside normal and appropriate channels:

"Mr. Collins, this is a very important question for many people, both in this body and in the general public," Whitaker responded. "The office of inspector general is currently looking at the Carter Page FISA application, and it is also being reviewed at the same time, simultaneously, by Mr. John Huber, who's the U.S. Attorney from Utah -- was asked by Attorney General Sessions to conduct a review of certain matters at the Department of Justice.

"And so together with the fact that any situation regarding Mr. Ohr's employment would be part of a confidential human resources process, I-- I just am unable to talk any more about Mr. Ohr, his involvement in any matters that could be subject to either an inspector general's investigation or a human resource matter."

Bruce Ohr's wife Nellie worked for Fusion GPS, the company paid (through a law firm) by the Clinton campaign and the Democrat Party to dig up dirt -- the Steele dossier -- on Donald Trump before the election.

On another matter, Whitaker said he has not talked to President Trump about the Special Counsel's investigation, nor has he "interfered in any way" with that investigation.

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