The story CNN gave on why they were at Roger Stone’s house the day the FBI raided him is falling apart.
The only footage anyone had seen until now was the CNN footage from a crew that happened to be there when the FBI hit the home.
After many questioned how CNN knew how to be there at that time the network offered an explanation that had many in disbelief.
CNN producer David Shortell and photojournalist Gilbert De La Rosa were outside Stone’s home Friday morning to witness the FBI approaching Stone’s door to arrest him on a seven-count indictment that special counsel Robert Mueller’s grand jury approved a day earlier.
They were there staking out Stone because there was just enough evidence lurking in the special counsel’s activity over the past week that CNN’s team covering the Mueller investigation placed a bet that Stone could be arrested as early as Friday.
Stone’s possible indictment has been looming for months now, as Mueller has interviewed many of his associates and others connected to the longtime Trump confidante, whose political career dates back to President Richard Nixon.
The first clue that the indictment was imminent came last week from CNN’s Sara Murray, who was reporting on the upcoming grand jury appearance of Jerome Corsi’s stepson. As the stepson’s legal team negotiated a date for testimony, they were told to pick any day but Friday — an indication Mueller’s team expected to be busy Friday, according to a source familiar with the discussions.
Was CNN told about the raid beforehand?
Now, one plausible explanation was the fact there was already one event on the books for Friday — a Paul Manafort court hearing — but Mueller had convened the grand jury on previous days where court hearings were scheduled or other major court filing activity occurred in the special counsel’s open cases.
And Mueller’s grand jury nearly always meets on Fridays — moving to a different day was unusual. In fact, CNN’s Katelyn Polantz and Laura Robinson observed that the last time the grand jury convened on a Thursday, Russian officials were indicted by Mueller the next day.
More clues emerged at court on Thursday morning.
At the DC federal courthouse Thursday, Robinson spotted at least two prosecutors, Andrew Goldstein and Aaron Zelinsky, visiting with the grand jury. They stayed convened for more than an hour after Corsi’s stepson Andrew Stettner testified to the grand jury.
But on Friday, Fox News host Tucker Carlson aired security footage and it showed CNN cameras with near perfect timing as they arrived one hour prior to the raid.
“Until now the only public footage of the raid came from CNN, which somehow knew to arrive one hour before the FBI got there,” he said as he showed the footage.
Security footage shows an SUV with a CNN cameraman parked across the street from Stone’s Fort Lauderdale, Fla., home. The cameraman got out and began filming when FBI personnel arrived an hour later.
Carlson also took issue with the way the raid was conducted.
A team of 29 heavily armed FBI agents in tactical gear arrived at the residence and pounded on the front door, the footage shows. Stone, 66, is seen barefoot and wearing a black T-shirt emblazoned with the phrase “Roger Stone did nothing wrong.” He comes out with his hands raised above his head and is put in handcuffs.
“The footage depicts what you’d expect if the FBI raided the home of a Mexican drug lord, maybe even SEAL Team 6 going into [Osama] bin Laden’s compound,” Carlson said.
And acting Attorney general Matthew Whitaker said on Friday during a hearing before Congress that CNN’s presence concerned him.
“It was deeply concerning to me as to how CNN found out about that,” Whitaker said.
“The court had a sealed indictment that, after Mr. Stone’s arrest, was unsealed. Consistent with all its prior indictments, the DOJ’s basic policy for transparency in criminal cases is that the indictment is posted on the DOJ website, probably after it is unsealed, and then media outlets were notified,” he said.
“I do not know of any other special counsel’s office notice or DOJ notice to media outlets regarding Mr. Stone’s indictment or his arrest,” Whitaker said.
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