Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham said Wednesday that he wants a briefing from the FBI on the tactics it used last week when agents arrested President Donald Trump’s confidant Roger Stone as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.
Stone, who was charged with lying about his pursuit of Russian-hacked emails damaging to Democrat Hillary Clinton’s 2016 election bid, was arrested by the FBI in a raid before dawn Friday at his home in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. CNN aired video of the raid, which showed agents in body armor brandishing large weapons and night-vision equipment, running up to the home and banging on the door.
“FBI. Open the door!” one shouted. “FBI. Warrant!” Stone then appeared in the doorway in his sleepwear before he was led away.
Graham, R-S.C., said in a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray that he wants a briefing before Feb. 5. He said he is “concerned about the manner in which the arrest was effectuated, especially the number of agents involved, the tactics employed, the timing of the arrest, and whether the FBI released details of the arrest and the indictment to the press prior to providing this information to Mr. Stone’s attorneys.”
Georgia Rep. Doug Collins, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, also wrote to Wray on Wednesday, saying he was “perplexed about why the FBI would use such a show of force to arrest an elderly man.”
It is not uncommon for the FBI to make early-morning arrests of targets under indictment, but it’s the first time Mueller has used that tactic. In court papers, prosecutors wrote they had concerns that if Stone was tipped off to the indictment, it would increase the risk he would flee or destroy evidence.
Peter Carr, a spokesman for the special counsel’s office, declined to comment.
CNN said it camped outside Stone’s house with cameras because of unusual activity reporters had noticed at the D.C. federal courthouse and the special counsel’s office.
Graham said in the letter that he supports Mueller’s investigation into whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia during the 2016 election but was “leery” that such tactics were needed because Stone expected to be indicted and was “apparently willing to surrender voluntarily.”
Graham asked the FBI to answer several questions about how common the tactics are and whether usual procedures were followed. He also asked if CNN was tipped off by the FBI, Justice Department or special counsel’s office.
“The American public has had enough of the media circus that surrounds the special counsel’s investigation,” Graham said. “Yet, the manner of this arrest appears to have only added to the spectacle.”
The scene outside the Florida courthouse after Stone was released on a $250,000 bond was also circus-like, with supporters cheering him on and jeering detractors shouting, “Lock him up!”
Stone blasted the prosecution as politically motivated, proclaimed his innocence and predicted his vindication. On Tuesday, he pleaded not guilty to the charges against him.