Trump friend and advisor Roger Stone pleads not guilty in Mueller case

Roger Stone, a longtime adviser to President Donald Trump, arrives at the Prettyman United States Courthouse before facing charges from Special Counsel Robert Mueller that he lied to Congress and engaged in witness tampering January 29, 2019 in Washington, DC. A self-described ‘political dirty-trickster,’ Stone said he has been falsely accused and will plead ‘not guilty.’ | Chip Somodevilla | Getty Images

President Donald Trump’s longtime friend and advisor Roger Stone pleaded not guilty Tuesday to criminal charges related to allegedly trying to hide his efforts to have WikiLeaks release information stolen from Democrats by Russian agents during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Robert Buschel, a lawyer for Stone, entered the plea of not guilty on his behalf during his arraignment in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.

The hearing lasted just 13 minutes, and the normally verbose and brash Stone did not make any comment to reporters either when he entered the courthouse nor or when he left it. As he left, one of the many people in a throng outside the court played the Russian national anthem.

Stone was arrested last Friday in Florida in the case, which was brought by special counsel Robert Mueller.

The 66-year-old self-described political dirty trickster and longtime Republican operative is charged with five counts of making false statements, one count of obstructing a congressional proceeding and one count of witness tampering.

Magistrate Judge Deborah Robinson scheduled a status hearing for Friday afternoon in the case. Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who will preside over Stone’s case, will conduct that hearing. A prosecutor in Mueller’s office said the case will be prosecuted both by the special counsel’s team and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.

Robinson allowed Stone to remain free on a $250,000 signature bond that was set when he first appeared in federal court in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Friday.

The judge stressed to Stone that he should have no contact with witnesses in the case. She also continued an order restricting his travel to Florida, to and from his future court appearances in Washington, and to the New York City area.

Stone said, in a barely audible voice, “Yes, your honor,” when Robinson reminded him of his release conditions.

During the hearing, a crowd outside of the E. Barrett Prettyman Courthouse held signs with messages that included, “Free Stone Fire Mueller,” “We Stand with Stone,” “Lock him Up,” and “Dirty Traitor.”

One person waved a Russian flag.

Mueller accuses Stone of lying to Congress about his alleged efforts to have the document disclosure group WikiLeaks disseminate hacked by Russian agents from the Democratic National Committee.

The indictment against Stone alleges he was was in contact with top-ranking Trump campaign officials about efforts to leak damaging information about Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton right before Election Day.

That indictment also says a senior official in the Trump campaign “was directed” to talk with Stone about potential future releases by WikiLeaks.

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