Graham Wants FBI Director to Explain the 'Spectacle' Surrounding Roger Stone's Arrest

By Susan Jones | January 31, 2019 | 5:59am EST
Roger Stone, a former advisor to President Donald Trump, speaks to the media after leaving the Federal Courthouse on January 25, 2019 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Mr. Stone was charged by special counsel Robert Mueller of obstruction, giving false statements and witness tampering. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

( - Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), the new chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, on Thursday sent a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray, asking him to explain the FBI's dramatic show of force in last week's pre-dawn raid on Roger Stone's Fort Lauderdale home.

"Although I am sure these tactics would be standard procedure for the arrest of a violent offender, I have questions regarding their necessity in this case," Graham wrote to Wray.

"The American public has had enough of the media circus that surrounds the Special Counsel's investigation," Graham wrote. "Yet, the manner of this arrest appears to have only added to the spectacle. Accordingly, I write to seek justification for the tactics used and the timing of the arrest of Mr. Stone."

Graham told Fox News's Sean Hannity Wednesday night that Wray "better answer my letter."

"My job is to provide oversight to the Department of Justice," said Graham, who just took over as Judicary Committee chairman. "Love the FBI, respect them, but somebody needs to watch those who watch us."

Graham said he wants to know why Mueller sent the FBI to execute a search warrant on someone who had a lawyer and could have been asked to cooperate.

Graham joked that the best way to get Roger Stone "is to tell him, CNN wants to talk to you -- he'll show up wherever you want him to show up." Stone is known as a publicity hound.

Nevertheless, Graham said the manner of Stone's arrest on charges of making false statements and witness tampering was "over the top."

"And I don't know what the message was being sent. But I personally didn't like it. I've been a prosecutor, defense attorney -- it seemed to be sending the wrong message, that if you cross Mueller, look what's going to happen to you. Mueller, do your job. But these tactics are unacceptable, given the level of threat here."

Graham added, "If they're sending a message, I'm sending a message to them. You're accountable to the Congress."

Roger Stone, a longtime associate of Donald Trump, worked on the Trump campaign until August 2015.

He was arrested before dawn last Friday, after a federal grand jury assembled by the Mueller team indicted him – not for Russian collusion, but for allegedly obstructing and making false statements to congressional and FBI investigators who are looking into collusion.

A CNN team just happened to be at Stone’s home to videotape the whole thing.

Stone described what happened in a recent interview with Fox News:

At 6 o’clock in the morning there was a pounding on my door. I was sleeping on the second floor with my wife, who is hearing impaired, virtually deaf. And I came downstairs to open the door, staring down the barrel of two assault weapons.

There were 29 FBI agents in SWAT gear who had completely surrounded my home. There were 17 vehicles with their lights going, including two armored vehicles in the front yard. In the front street, they had blocked off the entire street. How a CNN camera crew got there, I’m really not sure.

I live on a canal. They had pulled two amphibious units with frogmen up to the back gate, to the back of the house. The entire back of the house was surrounded by agents, all of them brandishing side arms and assault weapons pointed at my home.

Stone said he complied with the FBI request to come out with his hands up.

"I was made to stand in the street, handcuffed, in bare feet. They brought my wife out in her nightgown, also in bare feet, to stand next to me, even though she's not accused of any crime."

Stone said the FBI told him they had warrants to search his home and other locations.

"They knew who my counsel was. They had communicated with my counsel. They knew I would have voluntarily surrendered, gladly, because I would have been a lot better dressed for my mug shot photos.

"But instead they want to intimidate me. And they want to poison the jury pool. They treated me like el Chapo. They used fewer men to take down Pablo Escobar or bin Laden. So by treating me like a drug kingpin, they send a message to potential jurors that I’m public enemy number one."

Stone said he doesn't own a gun, nor does he have a valid passport. And he said the idea that he would suddenly destroy evidence is ridiculous, considering that he known  for two years that he's under investigation.

In his letter to Wray, Sen. Graham asked five specific questions.

-- Why was it necessary to arrest Mr. Stone at his home in the early morning hours, rather than working through his attorneys to permit him to surrender voluntarily?

-- Was the manner of Mr. Stone's arrest consistent with the arrests of, and procedures for the arrests of, similarly charged individuals?

-- Were usual procedures for obtaining and executing arrest and search warrants followed with regard to Mr. Stone?

-- Did the Special Counsel's office issue a press release and release the indictment to the press prior to informing Mr. Stone’s attorneys of the arrest?

-- Did anyone at the FBI, DOJ, or the Special Counsel's office alert CNN, any other media outlet, or anyone outside of law enforcement that the arrest was going to occur on the morning of January 25, 2019?

Graham told Wray that he has long supported Robert Mueller's investigation, which he believes should proceed without interference.

"However, while I firmly support law enforcement taking into account threats to officer safety, flight risk, and the need to ensure evidence is preserved, I am leery that a subject of the Special Counsel’s investigation, who had retained counsel, had publicly stated that he believed that he would at some point be indicted, and was apparently willing to surrender voluntarily, was arrested in a pre-dawn raid at his home.”

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