President Donald Trump’s oldest political adviser, Roger Stone, plead not guilty to charges that he lied to investigators in relation to special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election.
On Friday, ex-federal prosecutor Paul Butler appeared on MSNBC with Ari Melber to explain the connections between Stone and Trump, and why he expects Roger Stone to flip.
Butler doesn’t believe Trump’s claims that he’s not facing possible prosecution in the Stone case.
“I don’t believe the president, in part because he wasn’t coherent [in a New York Times interview] even yesterday. At first, he said that Rod Rosenstein had directly told him that he was not a target and then he said well, maybe he told my lawyers and the reporter asked, ‘Well, when?’ He couldn’t remember,” said Butler. “So there’s a specific definition in the Department of Justice handbook which I looked at every day when I was a prosecutor. A target is someone who is about to be indicted. The specific phrase is ‘when the prosecutor has substantial evidence linking him to the commission of a crime.’ Almost certainly, in the southern district, Donald Trump, or Individual-A, as the prosecutor there likes to call him, is a target of that investigation.”
Trump seems to be making denials with the understanding that he can’t be indicted, Butler said.
“Maybe because he did do something wrong and he doesn’t want the investigation to proceed?” Butler said. “This is a way of really embracing his formal status as president as a defense since he knows better than anybody else that the policy of the Department of Justice is that a sitting president can’t be indicted.”
The director of the documentary Get Me Roger Stone said the “cockroach” of American politics is not likely to go quietly.
Butler said he thinks Stone will flip given that he doesn’t have much of a defense.
“But if he’s looking at 10 years if he’s convicted, at least, which means he will be 77,” Butler said. “We’ll see how much of a firebrand he is then. That’s why I think he’s probably going to make a deal.”
“You think he could crack?” asked Melber.
“He doesn’t have a defense, Ari. The defense to false statements is ‘I told the truth.’ Robert Mueller has a whole cadre of text messages and e-mails that suggest that he did not tell the truth,” Butler said.
Google tightens political ads policy in effort to stop abuse
Google on Wednesday updated how it handles political ads as online platforms remain under pressure to avoid being used to spread misleading information intended to influence voters.
The internet company said its rules already ban any advertiser, including those with political messages, from lying in ads. But it is making its policy more clear and adding examples of how that prohibits content such as doctored or manipulated images or video.
"It's against our policies for any advertiser to make a false claim -- whether it's a claim about the price of a chair or a claim that you can vote by text message, that election day is postponed, or that a candidate has died," Google ads product management vice president Scott Spencer said in an online post.
Pope Francis begins Asia tour with visit to Buddhist temple
Pope Francis will visit one of Thailand's famed gilded temples Thursday to meet the supreme Buddhist patriarch, on the first full day of his Asian tour aimed at promoting religious harmony.
The 82-year-old pontiff is on his first visit to Buddhist majority Thailand, where he will spend four days before setting off to Japan.
His packed schedule a day after touching down in Bangkok includes a meeting with the king and the prime minister before leading an evening mass expected to draw tens of thousands of people from across Thailand, where just over 0.5 percent of the population is Catholic.
Hong Kong campus stalemate persists while US congress passes bill of support for democracy protesters
Hardline Hong Kong protesters held their ground on Thursday in a university besieged for days by police as the US passed a bill lauding the city's pro-democracy movement, setting up a likely clash between Washington and Beijing.
Beijing did not immediately respond to the passage in Washington of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which voices strong support for the "democratic aspirations of the Hong Kong people."
But China had already threatened retaliation if the bill is signed into law by President Donald Trump, and state-run media warned Thursday the legislation would not prevent Beijing from intervening forcefully to stop the "mess" gripping the financial hub.