Here’s what’s really going on with Roger Stone witness Andrew Miller being held in contempt of court

Several days ago, Special Counsel Robert Mueller appeared to secure one of the final pieces of the puzzle for obtaining an indictment against Donald Trump’s oldest friend Roger Stone, when a judge ordered that Stone’s reluctant associate Andrew Miller must testify before the grand jury. But today Miller outright refused to testify, and was held in contempt of court – but was not arrested. There are specific reasons for all of this, and they’re about to force a major showdown.

If Andrew Miller were merely worried about incriminating himself by testifying, he could have invoked the Fifth Amendment, which would have been less risky and more likely to protect him. Instead, because he’s refusing to testify without pleading the Fifth, it strongly suggests that he knows his testimony would severely incriminate Roger Stone, and he’s trying protect Stone. There’s no legal basis for this kind of refusal to testify, so he’s trying to invent one.

Miller originally tried to avoid testifying by arguing to a judge that Robert Mueller didn’t have the constitutional authority to investigate Roger Stone. Although that was struck down, Miller and his attorneys are now clearly trying to put this in front of an appeals judge. Considering what’s at stake, if an appeals judge agrees to hear it, the ruling should come quickly. If the appeals judge refuses to hear it, then Miller can either testify or be arrested. So why didn’t the judge simply arrest Miller today? It’s clear that doing so would not have compelled him to testify, and holding someone in contempt is supposed to be used as a tool to motivate them to cooperate with the court, not as a punishment.

In any case, Robert Mueller can choose to wait for the appeals court to make a decision on Andrew Miller, or he can decide to complete his grand jury case against Roger Stone without Miller’s testimony. Mueller has already brought in several other Stone associates to testify against him, and appears to have a rock solid case. In such case, Mueller could later try to compel Miller to testify at Stone’s trial. This all comes down to precisely how soon Mueller wants to arrest Roger Stone. Is he looking to do it before or after the verdict arrives in the Paul Manafort trial?

Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report