Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker told the House Judiciary Committee on Friday that he found it “deeply troubling” a news crew from CNN was present when the FBI raided political operative and POTUS Donald Trump ally Roger Stone’s Florida residence last month.
“It was deeply concerning to me as to how CNN found out about that,” Whitaker told the panel.
The network, which has been uncharacteristically hostile to the president, managed to gain and then post “exclusive footage” from Stone’s Ft. Lauderdale residence at around 6:30 a.m the morning of the raid by nearly 30 heavily armed FBI agents.
Several Republicans, including the president, criticized the heavy-handed tactics noting that Stone did not have any weapons in his home and that normall suspects like him who were no threat to the public would be asked through their lawyer to simply report to an FBI office for processing after being indicted.
“Watch exclusive CNN footage of the FBI arresting longtime Trump associate Roger Stone. Stone has been indicted by a grand jury on charges brought by special counsel Robert Mueller,” the network bragged in a tweet.
“FBI. Open the door.”
Watch exclusive CNN footage of the FBI arresting longtime Trump associate Roger Stone. Stone has been indicted by a grand jury on charges brought by special counsel Robert Mueller. https://t.co/5QHKDB2mfA pic.twitter.com/UeKo7CmXWo
— CNN (@CNN) January 25, 2019
“The court had a sealed indictment that after Mr. Stone’s arrest was unsealed,” explained Whitaker, according to The Daily Caller. “Consistent with all its prior indictments, the DOJ’s basic policy for transparency in criminal cases is that the indictment is posted on the DOJ website, probably after it is unsealed, and then media outlets were notified.”
“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,” the acting AG noted further.
As scrutiny over CNN’s presence grew, the network claimed that its team was merely acting on one “reporter’s instinct.”
“It’s reporter’s instinct,” said CNN producer David Shortell, as reported by The Washington Examiner. “The whole Russia team thought maybe something was happening.”
“There was some unusual grand jury activity in Washington, D.C. yesterday,” said Shortell. “Robert Mueller’s grand jury typically meets on Fridays. Yesterday, Thursday, there was grand jury activity.”
“We also had some other signs that maybe something was going on this angle, the Roger Stone angle,” the producer added. “So we showed up at his house this morning, we were the only ones there, and lo and behold, the FBI agents did come.”
Stone was indicted on seven counts: five counts of making false statements, one count of witness tampering, and one count of obstruction.
Whitaker says he was concerned that a CNN crew was camping out outside Roger Stone's house when he was arrested pic.twitter.com/V3RSmSuzkx
— Yahoo News (@YahooNews) February 8, 2019
In exclusive footage, Infowars posted video of Stone’s arrest in which it appears as though FBI agents who arrested stone are directing the CNN crew.
“Footage from Roger Stone’s security camera system shows CNN arriving before the FBI raid, the FBI directing CNN camera crew several times before Roger Stone is brought out of the house during his predawn raid,” the site reported.
- Follow Jon Dougherty on Twitter at @JonDougherty10
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