Donald Trump’s White House has stonewalled congressional oversight at every turn, and it should perhaps come as no surprise that longtime Trump confidant Roger Stone invoked his Fifth Amendment rights Thursday in refusing to cooperate with a House Judiciary Committee query.
“Mr. Stone respectfully declines to produce any documents, and declines any potential invitation for an interview which may follow,” Stone lawyer Grant Smith wrote to Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler in a letter dated March 18.
The Judiciary panel had sought documents from Stone related to Trump’s hush money payment scheme, any offers made by foreign governments to Trump or his business, and any communications with WikiLeaks and the Russian government involving Trump. Apparently those were topics on which Stone wasn’t keen to share.
Stone’s lawyer referenced his client’s criminal indictment by special counsel Robert Mueller as a reason to defer cooperation “until the charges are resolved.” But Smith went a step further, accusing the panel of engaging in a partisan “fishing expedition” as retribution for losing the 2016 presidential election. “Neither will Mr. Stone confirm for your Committee the existence of, or produce any documents requested, for the purpose of being used against him in anyway or to further the political agenda of people who want nothing more than to avenge the loss of their chosen candidate for president in 2016 by deposing the legally elected office holder,” he wrote.
Smith also included a lot of gauzy language about the Fifth Amendment protecting “innocent men … who otherwise might be ensnared by ambiguous circumstances.” Poor Stone, just a great guy caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. Could have happened to any guy with a back tattoo of Richard Nixon.
Of course, you know what Donald Trump always wondered about people who take the Fifth: “If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?” Trump would know: He took the Fifth himself in 1990 during his acrimonious split from his first wife, Ivana Trump, avoiding some 97 questions, mostly about adultery.
UPDATE: Stone has now bragged of telling Nadler to “pound sand” in an Instagram post. Poor guy, just an innocent victim “ensnared,” as his lawyer put it.