A national security expert revealed Tuesday that indicted Trump confidante Roger Stone made a fatal flaw by invoking the First Amendment.
Jennifer Daskal, an American University assistant law professor and former Justice Department national security official, wrote in Just Security that Stone's claims that his free speech is being censored by "Gestapo" tactics meant to silence him miss one huge mark — that lies to Congress and witness intimidation are not protected speech.
Daskal noted that in his indictment, federal prosecutors accuse Stone of threatening his erstwhile friend Randy Credico, saying his lawyers wanted to rip him "to shreds" and that he would take his therapy dog.
Stone has claimed those statements were made in jest — but the law professor argued that if prosecutors successfully can make the case, "threats to a witness with intent to influence or prevent testimony is not protected speech."
"Other parts of the indictment are rife with damning details about lies made to Congress in testimony before the House and Senate intelligence committees," Daskal added. She noted that Stone claimed he didn't have the relevant "documents, records, or electronically stored information" — but "it later turned out that he possessed a range of responsive texts and emails."
Stone also "said he hadn’t sent or received any texts or emails about Wikileaks, when in fact he sent and received many," the professor wrote. "He reportedly lied about just about every aspect of the communications, including the timing, mode, and content of his contact with both Wikileaks and the Trump campaign."
Lying to and concealing evidence from Congress, like witness tampering, "is not protected speech," Daskal concluded.
"Stone is free to exercise his free speech rights in as much as he wants to decry attacks on his free speech," she wrote. "But he would benefit from a lesson on the First Amendment before he does so."