Roger Stone, an ally of former President Donald Trump, has become the latest individual subpoenaed by the House select committee investigating January 6 to indicate he would plead the Fifth Amendment as a way to try and get out of cooperating with the panel.
In a letter to the committee obtained by CNN, Stone’s lawyer, Grant J. Smith, wrote that “pursuant to the rights afforded him by the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution, he declines to be deposed or to produce documents.”
Stone was scheduled for a deposition on December 17.
Two other high-profile witnesses also have indicated they would plead the Fifth, which protects against self-incrimination: John Eastman, the lawyer who helped craft a questionable legal theory that former Vice President Pence had the authority to interrupt the certification of the 2020 presidential election results, and Jeffrey Clark, a former top Justice Department official during the Trump administration.
Although Smith said the letter to the committee, dated December 6, should not be viewed as confirmation of the existence of any documents that the committee is seeking, he took issue with the scope of the request.
“Given that the Select Committee’s demand for documents is overbroad, overreaching, and far too wide ranging to be deemed anything other than a fishing expedition, Mr. Stone has a constitutional right to decline to respond,” Smith wrote.
Smith called the documents request “imprecise and undefined” and said it covers “a broad range of constitutionally protected political activity.” Smith also argued that the sheer volume of documents the requested would require a detailed index and log, “which in and of itself would be protected from disclosure by the U.S. Constitution.”
The letter also recalls Stone’s prior testimony in front of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in 2017, criticizing Rep. Adam Schiff, a California Democrat who was a member on that panel, as well as the committee investigating January 6.
“In the weeks, months, and years following his appearance, Mr. Stone was subjected to a torrent of leaks regarding his classified testimony in violation of House Rules” Smith wrote. “HPSCI members, at least one of whom sits on this Select Committee, relentlessly misrepresented the evidence regarding Mr. Stone, including by perpetuating wholly unsubstantiated allegations regarding alleged Russian collusion, activities that not even the Mueller team could substantiate.”
Stone was sentenced to 40 months in prison, in part for lying to Congress, before Trump commuted the prison sentence.
Smith also accused the committee of being politicized and not accepting any appointments from Republican leadership.
“Mr. Stone is concerned about the politicization of this Select Committee,” Smith wrote. “There is no check on the activities of the majority, allowing the majority unrestrained power. Power which is further exacerbated by it being wielded behind closed doors.”
Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, who chairs the committee, on Tuesday addressed the growing number of individuals subpoenaed by the committee who have decided to plead the Fifth.
“Every American can do it. And that’s one of the rights to Constitution guarantees,” Thompson said in the interview with CNN. “And we would hope that there’s nothing they have to hide that they will come and allow us to get the information we need to do our work. Obviously, the Fifth Amendment, which is a constitutional guarantee, is available. So we’ll just have to see what happens.”