Today we learned that Donald Trump’s old friend Roger Stone recently and secretly pleaded the Fifth in an attempt at fending off the Trump-Russia investigation being run by the Senate Judiciary Committee. Stone wasn’t too happy that it became public knowledge, either. The real trouble: it looks like Stone’s effort is going to fail.
Legally speaking, pleading the Fifth is not an admission of guilt. The trouble here is that Donald Trump has previously framed it as all but being an admission of guilt. Democratic Congressman Ted Lieu, a former prosecutor, pointed out that “Based on the numerous TV appearances by Roger Stone where he discusses the Russia/Wikileaks issues & denies culpability, a good case can be made that Stone waived his Fifth Amendment rights. Also, the Fifth Amendment generally protects testimony, not documents.”
In other words, all the Senate Judiciary Committee has to do is hold Roger Stone in contempt of Congress and take it to a judge, and it appears the judge will probably force him to testify, while all but definitely forcing him to turn over the documents in question. It turns out Stone can’t even plead the Fifth correctly.
After the Roger Stone news broke, Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell quickly pointed out on Twitter that, during the 2016 election, Trump said this: “The mob takes the Fifth. If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?” Now Roger Stone, the guy who was defended by Trump just yesterday, is taking the Fifth. This just keeps getting uglier.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report