Attorneys for Stone had argued that prosecutors illegally relied on unproven assumptions about Russia’s involvement and sought to force them to prove in court the role of Russian operatives in hacks on the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign chairman, John Podesta, among others.
U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson said Stone had “not come close” to showing the government misled the magistrates or judges who approved the warrants, that federal agents knowingly or intentionally lied to them or that the warrants were premised on Russia’s role in the hacking.
“Even absent any representation that it was believed to be Russia that was behind the intrusion, there was probable cause for the issuing courts to conclude that the requested searches of defendant’s premises, records, and electronic accounts, would uncover relevant evidence about the unlawful intrusion and related offenses,” Jackson, of Washington, wrote in a 14-page opinion.
“The officers executing the searches relied in good faith on valid warrants, and there is no basis to suppress the evidence they obtained,” Jackson concluded in a decision issued Sept. 19 and unsealed Tuesday.
Jackson’s ruling was made public one day before Stone and his defense team are due in court for a hearing in the run-up to his Nov. 5 trial date.
In clearing the way for prosecutors to mount their case, Jackson swept aside Stone’s invocation of a theory backed by some Trump supporters that denies a central finding by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III that Moscow had a primary role in “sweeping and systemic” cyber-interference in the 2016 election.
The Mueller probe in July 2018 publicly indicted members of the Russian military intelligence agency GRU in the hack.
The FBI and U.S. intelligence community have made similar assessments about Russian intelligence agencies’ roles.
Stone’s filing alleged that redacted versions of Mueller’s report and reports by CrowdStrike — the private cybersecurity firm hired by the DNC to investigate the June 2016 attack — that have been turned over to his defense team lack the necessary authentication to be admitted as evidence in a U.S. criminal court.
“The government does not have the evidence, and it knew it did not have the evidence, when it applied for these search warrants” for Stone’s papers, emails, cellphones, computers and other devices, his attorneys argued, adding, “If that foundation collapses, then the warrants must fail for lack of probable cause.”
Jackson said that Stone’s allegations were conclusory and that he had not shown that federal agents made any statements that were deliberately false or in reckless disregard of the truth.
“Defendant has not offered any grounds to find that it would be reckless for an FBI agent to recite a finding of the U.S. intelligence community,” a declassified version of a classified assessment provided to the president, drafted by the FBI, CIA and National Security Agency and released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Jackson wrote.
Even if false, she added, such statements “were not necessary” to the courts’ decisions to issue the warrants, which were based on the theft and release of the DNC data and Stone’s alleged actions to impede a House Intelligence Committee investigation into foreign interference in the election, Jackson found.