Charges do not relate to 'Russian collusion', says Roger Stone, pleads not guilty

 Charges do not relate to 'Russian collusion', says Roger Stone, pleads not guilty
Released on bail after the early morning arrest in Florida, political operative Roger Stone said the charges against him are false and "politically motivated" and categorically denied any connection with WikiLeaks or Russia.

“I am falsely accused of making false statements during my testimony before the House Intelligence Committee. That is incorrect,” he said at the steps of the Fort Lauderdale, Florida courthouse on Friday morning.

Stone said 22 FBI agents arrived at his home “at the crack of dawn” though he was willing to surrender peacefully, adding that he intends to plead not guilty.

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“There is no circumstance whatsoever under which I will bear false witness against the president,” he said. “I look forward to being fully and completely vindicated.”

Asked if anyone in the Trump campaign asked him to contact WikiLeaks during the 2016 US presidential election, Stone replied, “No.”

Asked if he had any contact with Russians, he said, “Categorically not.”

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Stone described himself as one of President Donald Trump’s “oldest friends” and a “fervent supporter.” He advised the Trump presidential campaign at the outset, but parted ways with it in August 2015.

The 24-page indictment published on Friday accuses him of witness tampering, obstruction of justice and making false statements to Congress – all in the course of special counsel Robert Mueller’s “Russiagate” investigation that started in May 2017.

Asked by reporters if he would ask or accept a pardon from Trump, Stone said the only pardon he ever advocated is for Marcus Garvey – the black political activist jailed in the 1920s by the predecessor of the FBI on charges of mail fraud, so he could be deported to Jamaica.

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