Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) on Friday sent a letter to the Department of Justice asking for an investigation into whether details of political operative Roger Stone’s indictment were leaked to the media ahead of his dramatic pre-dawn arrest.
CNN’s cameras were staked outside Stone’s Fort Lauderdale, Florida, home when over a dozen heavily armed FBI agents arrested him shortly after 6:00 a.m. EST. According to CNN crime and justice producer David Shortell, the network set up a crew outside the home after “noticing unusual grand jury activity” in connection to special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe the day prior.
However, Biggs, a member of the Freedom Caucus and ally of the president, isn’t buying CNN’s assertion.
“On January 25th, FBI agents executed an arrest warrant on Roger Stone pursuant to a grand jury indictment in the District of Columbia. At approximately 5:59 a.m. CNN’s morning show ‘New Day’ posted a tweet with a video showing FBI agents in full tactical gear executing the arrest of Mr. Stone,” the Arizona Republican wrote.
“It is hard to believe that this reporter and camera crew showed up at the home of Mr. Stone, on the right day at the right time, on a hunch,” he continued. “This leads me to believe that CNN may have received advance notice of the date and time of the arrest.”
Biggs then said that it would be “highly inappropriate” and “damaging to the credibility” of the FBI if bureau officials tipped off CNN. “An arrest like this is a serious act, not a media spectacle,” Biggs continued. “We ask that you investigate whether federal law enforcement officers leaked information about the arrest of Mr. Stone to members of the media in advance and what – if any – rules, regulations, court orders, or laws were broken in the process.”
On Monday, Stone lamented what many are arguing was an excessive use of force by the FBI during his arrest. “I’m 66 years old, I do not own a gun, I do not have a valid passport, I have no prior criminal record, I’m charged with nonviolent process crimes,” he told reporters. “To storm my house with greater force than was used to take down bin Laden or El Chapo or Pablo Escobar, it’s unconscionable.”
He also questioned whether CNN had a right to film his arrest when his street was blocked off to the public. “It’s a raw abuse of power in the fact that a CNN reporter was allowed to film my arrest when the street was sealed off and the fact that the CNN producer in question is a former assistant to James Comey at the FBI and formally worked for the FBI. His claim that he just had a hunch is not credible,” Stone said.
Stone was charged with seven counts, including making false statements and witness tampering as part of Mueller’s investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia in the 2016 presidential election. Speaking outside the Fort Lauderdale federal courthouse after his arrest, Stone vowed to plead not guilty and predicted he would be vindicated of any wrongdoing.