Opinion

KOLB: Can We Give James Clapper The Roger Stone Treatment Yet?

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Charles Kolb Deputy Assistant to George H.W. Bush
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inLongtime Trump protégé and GOP dirty trickster Roger Stone was taken into FBI custody on January 25 at a pre-dawn raid. CNN just happened to be on hand when, Stone says, 29 FBI agents disembarked from 17 vehicles with emergency lights blazing and descended upon his Ft. Lauderdale home with their automatic weapons drawn.

Whether you are a Democrat, Republican or politically unaffiliated — whether you think that Robert Mueller’s probe is a “witch hunt” or an investigation needed to save the republic — you should be outraged at the way Roger Stone was treated by the Department of Justice and the FBI.

I have no idea whether Mr. Stone is guilty of some or all of the seven counts contained in his indictment. Stone was indicted on one count of obstructing justice, one count of witness tampering, and five counts of lying to Congress. The indictment cited threats by Stone to a former colleague (and the colleague’s dog) and included Stone referencing scenes from “Godfather II” that urge a witness to lie. These are, of course, very serious allegations, and, if proven, may mean prison time for Stone. (RELATED: Why Did Christopher Wray Allow Mueller’s Thugs To Use 29 FBI Agents On Roger Stone?)

None of these counts, however, involve allegations of violent behavior. None of these allegations justify the show of massive force against Stone and his wife at the crack of dawn. Let’s assume that Stone is guilty as charged on all seven counts: was there a need for the FBI to conduct its raid in this manner?

Was Stone licensed to own one or more firearms? Did Stone and his wife have weapons? Was there any indication that Stone would resist arrest or be violent? Stone knew for nearly two years that he might be indicted and had ample time to destroy whatever evidence he might want to hide. With the FBI knocking at his door, just how much additional evidence could he destroy in the minutes before the agents entered?

Given the nature of Stone’s alleged crimes, why couldn’t the FBI have taken Stone into custody with a lesser degree of force? After all, within just a few hours, a federal court released Stone on a $250,000 signature bond — a bond requiring no money down. With the FBI’s show of force, one would have expected Stone to have been incarcerated, not released.

What happened during the early morning hours of January 25 is what we might expect in China, Cuba, Russia, Turkey, or Venezuela, where constitutionally protected civil liberties and the presumption of innocence do not exist. Stone might be a creep; he might even be a crook; but he is not El Chapo.

Let’s compare another prominent case of alleged lying to Congress with Stone’s treatment.

On March 12, 2013, Gen. James R. Clapper, Jr., President Obama’s director of the Office Of National Intelligence, testified under oath before the Senate Intelligence Committee. Responding to a question from Oregon Sen. Ron Wyder on whether the U.S. government was collecting “any type of data at all” from American citizens, Clapper paused and said, “No, sir. … Not wittingly.”

Three months later, when Edward Snowden dumped millions of stolen government documents into the public domain, it became abundantly clear that Clapper lied. The U.S. government was, in fact, vacuuming up details about virtually every electronic communication by every American citizen. When asked directly about his answer to Wyden, Clapper said that his response was “the least untruthful” answer he could give.

Parse Clapper’s response. “Least untruthful” means not truthful. Not truthful means a lie.

President Obama should have fired Clapper immediately for lying to Congress and, frankly, for stupidity. Clapper had received the committee’s questions the day before his testimony. His later explanation that he somehow confused the Patriot Act with the Foreign Surveillance Act doesn’t cut it. Wyden’s question was clearly sensitive, and Clapper should have known enough to request that the committee go into executive session before he responded.

The Obama administration set a record for prosecuting journalists and leakers. In doing so, the administration seriously threatened press freedom while looking the other way at others’ lying. Clapper’s lying short-circuited Congress’s ability to conduct legitimate oversight of the government’s secret intelligence-gathering operations.

Why was Clapper’s lie excused? Why did the FBI act so menacingly against Stone? Something’s wrong here. Perhaps Attorney General William Barr, once confirmed, can ensure that American justice is, once again, truly blind and equal.

Charles Kolb clerked for a federal district court judge and served as deputy assistant to the president for domestic policy from 1990-1992 in the George H.W. Bush White House. He was president of the Committee for Economic Development, a nonpartisan, business-led think tank, from 1997-2012.


The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.