Attorneys for Trump confidant Roger Stone urged a federal judge Friday to toss out all evidence gathered through search warrants in his case, saying court-approved warrants illegally relied on unproven assumptions that Russia was behind the hack of Democratic Party emails during the 2016 campaign or gave them to the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks.
Stone’s lawyers made the allegation in a nine-page motion to suppress evidence in his November trial on charges of lying to Congress and witness tampering connected to his efforts to gather information about the stolen Democratic emails and their release to WikiLeaks and other groups.
Stone, 66, has pleaded not guilty, and his latest court filing in Washington sought a hearing to force U.S. authorities to prove in court the role of Russian operatives in hacks on the Democratic National Committee and others, including Hillary Clinton presidential campaign chairman John Podesta.
In doing so, Stone’s defense took up a theory backed by some Trump supporters that denies a central finding of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election: Moscow’s primary role in the “sweeping and systemic” cyber effort.
The Mueller probe in July 2018 publicly indicted members of the Russian military intelligence agency GRU in the hack on Democratic organizations and the Clinton campaign, accusing specific military units and 12 named officers of a sustained, sophisticated effort to steal and publish data to influence U.S. voting.
The FBI and U.S. intelligence community have made similar assessments about Russian intelligence agencies’ specific roles.
However, 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.
“It is clear . . . that the government has relied on the assumptions made by a source outside of the U.S. intelligence community that the Russian State was involved in the hacking and that the data taken from the various servers were given to WikiLeaks,” wrote Stone’s attorneys. “The government does not have the evidence, and it knew it did not have the evidence, when it applied for these search warrants.”
They added, “If that foundation collapses, then the warrants must fail for lack of probable cause,” requiring the court to exclude evidence gathered when the FBI seized Stone’s papers, emails, cellphones, computers and other devices.
Stone’s prosecution — transferred from Mueller’s now-concluded probe to the U.S. attorney’s office of the District — declined to comment outside its formal response to the court, due May 31.
U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson of Washington, D.C., has set an oral-arguments hearing on Stone’s motion for June 21.
Jackson has set a separate May 30 hearing on Stone’s additional motions challenging the legal basis of Mueller’s appointment and funding and to dismiss his indictment.