Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., the ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, sent a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray on Wednesday, questioning the bureau’s tactics when arresting Roger Stone, a longtime adviser and confidant of President Trump, last week at his Florida home.
Collins joins Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., in questioning the amount of force used in arresting the 66-year-old Stone at his home, given that he was not deemed a flight risk and had already publicly stated that he expected to be indicted.
“Although none of the seven charges against Stone is considered to be a violent crime, the FBI demonstrated an immense show of force during an early-morning raid on Stone’s home,” Collins wrote in his letter to Wray. “Given the fact that the FBI is embroiled in a scandal related to the origins of this investigation, we are perplexed about why the FBI would use such a show of force in the arrest of an elderly man.”
Collins goes on to point out that when Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., was indicted in 2015 on 14 charges – as with Stone, the charges included giving false statements – he and his lawyers were allowed to discuss how the lawmaker would voluntarily surrender.
In his letter, Collins asks Wray to clarify how far up the chain of command the knowledge of the raid and tactics used went, if the FBI had had any discussions with Stone’s attorneys before the raid and if the FBI spoke to any media organizations ahead of the raid. A CNN commentator was near the scene during the time of the raid on Stone’s house and overheard his conversation with FBI agents.
Collins joined a growing chorus of Republican lawmakers and strategists criticizing Stone’s arrest, with former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie calling it “overkill” and a former FBI agent comparing it to a “pre-dawn ‘knock-and-announce’ arrest warrant of a meth lab somewhere in the United States.” Stone himself drew a parallel between the level of force displayed during his arrest and that used to capture alleged Mexican drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzman.
Stone on Tuesday pleaded not guilty to felony charges in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation after a publicity-filled few days spent slamming the probe as politically motivated.
The indictment does not accuse Stone of coordinating with Russia or with WikiLeaks on the release of hacked Democratic emails. But it does allege that he misled lawmakers about his pursuit of those communications and interest in them. The anti-secrecy WikiLeaks website published emails in the weeks before the 2016 presidential election that the U.S. says were stolen from Democrats by Russian operatives.
Mueller’s team and lawyers with the U.S. attorney’s office for the District of Columbia are jointly prosecuting the case against Stone. They did not push for Stone to be jailed or for U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah Robinson to impose a gag order in the case.
Stone remains free on $250,000 bond.