I had the same thought this morning as Jazz when I saw the footage. It is … curious that the president’s least favorite network, which obsesses daily about Russiagate and its implications for him, got a hot tip to have cameras pointed at Roger Stone’s front door before dawn this morning. What better way for the feds to maximize the humiliation to Stone and, by extension, Trump than to make sure their raid was carried to millions of TV viewers? Whether it was Mueller’s office that tipped CNN or the FBI that tipped them, someone obviously did.
The anchors sure sounded excited about their scoop, too!
“FBI. Open the door.”
Watch exclusive CNN footage of the FBI arresting longtime Trump associate Roger Stone. Stone has been indicted by a grand jury on charges brought by special counsel Robert Mueller. https://t.co/5QHKDB2mfA pic.twitter.com/UeKo7CmXWo
— CNN (@CNN) January 25, 2019
There was something I didn’t know when I first saw that clip, though. Amid all the shutdown news yesterday, I missed the fact that unusual things were afoot at the courthouse where Mueller’s grand jury has convened. WaPo reporter Spencer Hsu noticed and flagged it as it happened:
NOW Jerome Corsi stepson Andrew Stettner has arrived at the U.S. district courthouse in D.C. to testify to a grand jury working with the Mueller Russia investigation. "He doesn't have much to say," said his attorney Larry Klayman, anticipating his appearance would not take long https://t.co/fhJUDqxBp8
— Spencer Hsu (@hsu_spencer) January 24, 2019
Today is first time that I've seen since July 12, day before the 12 GRU agents indictment.
— Spencer Hsu (@hsu_spencer) January 24, 2019
Hsu is the Post’s legal reporter and tracks Russiagate-related court wrangling. According to him, activity at the courthouse on a Thursday is rare — and the last time it happened it was followed immediately by indictments. Fridays, in fact, tend to be the day when most Russiagate indictments are made public. As Hsu noted, the GRU members were indicted on a Friday last July. Members of a Russian “troll farm” were also charged with trying to interfere in the 2016 election on a Friday last February.
Daily Kos picked up on Hsu’s tweets yesterday, put all of that together, and highlighted it in a post titled, “Mueller’s grand jury conducts rare Thursday session, could be sign of Friday indictments.” That is to say, the evidence that today might be a big day in the investigation was such that even casual observers were speculating about arrests. From there it’s a matter of a simple deduction: Who’s most likely to be indicted at this point? Which Russiagate player spent the better part of 2018 telling people he might be indicted soon?
Right, Roger Stone. In fact, Stone buddy Michael Caputo told CNN for a story published yesterday that Stone had been waiting so long to be indicted that he’d gone back to business as usual on Fridays instead of waiting for the knock on his door:
“There was a time when those prognostications really landed hard on Roger,” said Michael Caputo, a longtime friend of Stone’s and former Trump campaign aide who has been interviewed by Mueller’s investigators. “They don’t land so hard anymore because Roger Stone day has come and gone a thousand times and at some point you realize Roger Stone day may never come.”
“There was a time when Roger didn’t make plans on Fridays,” Caputo added, referring to the day of the week when Mueller’s grand jury tends to meet and deliver indictments. But Stone is back to spending Friday evenings with his family at his favorite New Haven-style pizza joint, Caputo said.
“Roger Stone day” finally came. So what probably happened with the footage of the raid is this: Whether via Hsu’s tweets or its own reporting, CNN perked up yesterday at the fact that the grand jury was meeting on a Thursday. Since in the past that’s meant indictments 24 hours later, they played a hunch and guessed that it might be worth keeping an eye on Stone’s house today. And by “today,” I mean all day. Paul Manafort’s house was famously raided before dawn too, remember.
In fact, that’s what CNN reporter Kaitlan Collins says happened:
— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) January 25, 2019
They probably took an educated guess based on yesterday’s news and got lucky, although of course that’s not mutually exclusive with the theory that they were tipped too. Without a doubt, they must have at least tried to confirm their hunch with their sources at the FBI beforehand. I’d be curious to know how that conversation went. “Is it tomorrow? Is it Stone?” Did they get a no-comment in reply to that or a sly “maybe”? Or a “yep, tomorrow, 6 a.m., bring cameras”?
Here’s a verrrry excited Alisyn Camerota asking a verrry excited David Shortell why he was watching Stone’s home so early this morning.
Update: It turns out CNN was talking on air about the strange Mueller grand jury proceedings last night and wondering what it might mean for today. If Daily Kos could guess based on public information that someone was getting pinched today, go figure that CNN could guess too and would zero in on an obvious possibility like Stone.