01:38 - Source: CNN
Why Mueller cares about Roger Stone
Washington CNN  — 

Justice Department prosecutors don’t want to allow longtime Donald Trump ally Roger Stone to review unredacted portions of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report before his trial.

The question came up Tuesday at a procedural court hearing about what materials Stone is entitled to review as his lawyers prepare for his November trial. Stone pleaded not guilty earlier this year to lying to a congressional committee that was investigating Russian election meddling.

“To the extent that there is redacted material in the special counsel’s report that relates to this case, it is not subject to discovery by the defendant,” prosecutor Jonathan Kravis said.

Stone’s lawyers want to review sections of the report about Stone, as well as additional internal documents from the special counsel’s office, like memos from FBI agents that interviewed witnesses who might be called to testify against Stone.

Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who is overseeing the case, said she might privately examine the portions of the report about Stone, so she can determine if Stone needs the information for his defense. Prosecutors said they were “certainly willing” to make that happen.

Portions of the report detail Stone’s efforts to contact WikiLeaks during the 2016 presidential campaign and how he coordinated those efforts with members of Trump’s team. These sections could also include assessments about the credibility of people that might testify against Stone. Anything in the report that undermines their credibility could be helpful to Stone’s defense.

But essentially all of these sections in the report are blacked-out because they could cause “harm to an ongoing matter,” which is presumably Stone’s case, still in its early stages.

“The mere fact of the publication of the redacted version of the special counsel’s report does not itself create further discovery obligations as to the report,” Kravis said.

Stone, a longtime friend and supporter of the President, was indicted in January on charges of lying to Congress, witness tampering and obstructing the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation into Russian meddling. He has pleaded not guilty and has publicly decried the now-completed Mueller investigation as a ruse designed to undermine Trump.

The trial is scheduled to begin in November. So far, the early phases in this case have centered on the strictness of the gag order and the large trove of evidence that needs reviewing.

A self-described “dirty trickster,” Stone allegedly lied to Congress about his outreach during the 2016 campaign to WikiLeaks, which released thousands of damaging emails stolen from Trump’s opponents. Prosecutors also said Stone coordinated that outreach with senior Trump campaign officials, even though he testified to Congress that he had acted entirely on his own.

The case was brought by Mueller’s team but was handed off to prosecutors from the US Attorney’s Office in Washington after Mueller wrapped up his investigation in March. In Mueller’s sweeping report, the special counsel said his probe did not establish a criminal conspiracy between Trump’s team and the Russian government to coordinate on the 2016 election.

Two prosecutors that worked on Mueller’s team – Adam Jed and Aaron Zelinsky – were in court for the hearing on Tuesday. For the first time in this case, they were identified as being “with the US attorney’s office,” not the special counsel’s office.

CNN’s Sam Fossum contributed to this report.