The arrest of top Trump henchman Roger Stone prompted congressional condemnation and a push for more investigation.
The indictment of longtime Trump adviser and confidant Roger Stone has prompted a round of condemnation of Trump's embrace of criminality from Congress. Senators and members of Congress also noted the vindication of the Mueller probe and the need to protect the investigation from interference from Trump.
The indictment again brought to the fore ongoing concerns about how election outcomes and results were tampered with, thanks to outside Russian interference enabled by the Trump campaign.
"It is very interesting to see the kinds of people that the president of the United States has surrounded himself with," said Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). "This connection to the very integrity of our elections is obviously something we have to get the truth about."
The indictment lays out a timeline during the 2016 presidential campaign in which Stone was the go-between for the Trump campaign and Wikileaks. At the time, Wikileaks was releasing emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee by Russian operatives.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told MSNBC, "At the very time that then-candidate Trump was publicly encouraging Russia's help in acquiring Clinton-related emails, his campaign was privately receiving information about the planned release of stolen Clinton emails."
The arrest also points directly at Trump, an avenue Congress will pursue.
"Roger Stone, Paul Manafort, Michael Cohen, Rick Gates, Michael Flynn... What did the President know and when did he know it?" asked Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.
Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) said he "look[s] forward" to working with Nadler on the Judiciary Committee to find the answers to what Trump knew and when.
"This witch hunt sure has turned up a lot of witches," said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR). Trump has often claimed, without evidence, that the investigation into his campaign is a "witch hunt."
The indictment indicates that Stone lied when he testified before the House Intelligence Committee. Committee member Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) took note of the deception and said, "You have to be straight with Congress. He wasn’t. And he's paying the price now. And I suspect he won't be the last."
Members of Congress also indicated that the arrest continues to vindicate special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, which has secured a series of convictions and guilty pleas from Trump insiders.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) said the Stone indictment "shows Mueller’s investigation as active & ongoing as ever & with more to be done before any report."
"Today is another stark reminder that Special Counsel Robert Mueller must be allowed to complete his job without any political interference," said Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA). "Legislation must be brought to the Senate floor immediately to protect his investigation."
Republicans have refused to pass legislation that would protect Mueller from possible removal by Trump.
Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) asked, "If there's nothing to hide, why do so many people from the @realDonaldTrump campaign & administration keep doing it? What are they covering up? Who are they lying for?"
FBI agents are currently unpaid thanks to the Trump shutdown, which Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) noted in her reply to the Stone indictment: "Thanks to the FBI for doing their jobs even though they aren’t getting paid."
Republicans in Congress gave Trump a pass on the atmosphere of criminality and corruption that he surrounded himself with. Voters in 2018 responded by putting Democrats in charge of the House. The indictment of Stone and their reaction shows that Trump's free pass has now been revoked.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.