Donald Trump’s associate Roger Stone’s legal team revealed in a letter on Tuesday that Stone would assert his Fifth Amendment right not to testify or provide documents to a Senate committee who is probing potential collusion between Trump’s campaign team and Russia, Fox News informed.
“Mr. Stone’s invocation of his Fifth Amendment privilege must be understood by all to be the assertion of a Constitutional right by an innocent citizen who denounces secrecy,” Stone’s attorney, Grant Smith, said in the statement.
He also urged that the Senate Judiciary Committee requested a “fishing expedition” that is “far too overboard, far too overreaching, far too wide-ranging.”
It was not right away clear if the Senate committee would work to provide immunity for Stone, which could legally defeat his Fifth Amendment invocation by rendering his concerns of criminal exposure moot. The Fifth Amendment protects people from being compelled by the government to testify or hand over testimonial documents that might incriminate them.
This quick announcement comes just one day after President Trump commended Stone for saying that he would “never testify” against the President.
“This statement was recently made by Roger Stone, essentially stating that he will not be forced by a rogue and out of control prosecutor to make up lies and stories,” Trump tweeted. “Nice to know that some people still have ‘guts’!”
“It raises suspicions,” Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said in an interview with CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer, although he cautioned against inferring Stone’s guilt.
Durbin emphasized that Trump has suggested that people who plead the Fifth Amendment have something to hide. “The mob takes the Fifth,” Trump said in 2016.
In September 2017, Stone testified in a closed-door setting with the House Intelligence Committee.
“I am aware of no evidence of collusion with the Russian state,” Stone, who was an informal Trump 2016 campaign adviser, said after his roughly three-hour meeting. “I don’t think some of the members believed some of my claims, but they had no evidence to the contrary.”
Stone’s possible ties to WikiLeaks while he was in communication with Trump’s campaign have come under scrutiny in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.