Roger Stone could be the "holy grail" for prosecutors investigating the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection.
The Republican dirty trickster and longtime associate of former president Donald Trump -- who pardoned him on Dec. 23 for crimes related to the 2016 election -- has vehemently denied any links to the riot, but former senior prosecutors say there are too many connections to ignore between Stone and some of the right-wing suspects already charged in the insurrection, reported The Guardian.
"As a result of the pardon corruptly granted by Trump, it would not be surprising for Roger Stone to become a federal prosecutor's holy grail," said Phil Halpern, a veteran U.S. Attorney who specialized in corruption cases. "In this quest, the charged Oath Keepers and Proud Boys are merely pawns leading to the ultimate prize. Rest assured, prosecutors will be dangling lenient treatment and other inducements in return for any testimony implicating Stone in the Capitol riot."
Stone first set up the "Stop The Steal" group in 2016 in case Trump lost that election, and that slogan animated efforts to overturn the president's re-election loss -- which Stone amplified at a Dec. 12 rally.
The night before the riot, Stone spoke at the "Rally to Save America" in Washington, D.C., called on Trump supporters to engage in an "epic struggle for the future of this country, between dark and light, between the godly and the godless, between good and evil," and he was seen early on Jan. 6 with six members of the Oath Keepers militia -- including three who were later charged in the riot.
"Prosecutors follow the facts and evidence where they lead, and certainly should be investigating any connections between Stone and those who were responsible for the insurrection on Jan. 6," said Mary McCord, a veteran prosecutor who led the national security division at the Justice Department during the Obama administration.
Stone has insisted that he only wanted "peaceful" protests at the Capitol, despite his apocalyptic rhetoric and previous warnings of Trump-related insurrection, and issued a statement to The Guardian denying any role in the insurrection."Any statement, claim, insinuation, or report alleging, or even implying, that I had any involvement in or knowledge, whether advance or contemporaneous, about the commission of any unlawful acts by any person or group in or around the U.S. Capitol or anywhere in Washington, D.C., on January 6, 2021, is categorically false," he said.