A swarm of agents in tactical gear shouting “FBI! Open the door!” outside Roger Stone’s Florida home just before dawn Friday was over the top but intended to send a chilling message to anyone else being eyed in the Mueller investigation — you’re next, former FBI agents told the Herald.
The SWAT collar suspect in pajamas went viral Friday, with CNN cameras rolling.
“It was absolutely ridiculous,” said ex-FBI agent Peter Yachmetz. “Doing it at 6 o’clock is extremely early. They were trying to get a point across and it was leaked to CNN. Why?
“It was inappropriate and improper,” added Yachmetz, an agent for three decades. “I cannot recall banging on anyone’s door at 6 a.m. for a white-collar crime. I did do it once in a kidnapping and extortion case.”
Yachmetz said the pre-dawn arrest was likely orchestrated by the U.S. Attorney’s Office working in tandem with the Mueller team.
“It’s a message for everyone else connected to the investigation,” said retired FBI supervisory special agent Todd Hulsey. “They are saying, ‘If you think we have something on you, we are going to get you.’ And it’s going to be an unpleasant arrest.
“Basically, it’s a pressure tactic,” Hulsey added. “Mueller and his people want to raise their stress level and cause people to cooperate.”
After his arraignment on witness tampering, obstruction and lying to Congress, a rattled Stone was quoted as saying 29 agents “pounded on the door,” pointed automatic weapons at him and “terrorized” his wife and dogs. Stone was taken away in handcuffs, the sixth associate of President Trump to be indicted in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. All the charges have been related to either lying or tax evasion, with no evidence of so-called “collusion” with Russia emerging to date.
“The FBI had to do a bin Laden-style pre-dawn raid on a guy who was just released on his own recognizance? Ok,” tweeted Sean Davis, co-founder of the conservative online magazine The Federalist.
But Michael Avenatti, the former lawyer for porn queen Stormy Daniels, countered on Twitter, “The manner in which the FBI arrested Roger Stone … is what happens when you consistently give the FBI and investigators the middle finger for years and fail to show them any respect or professionalism.”
Former New England Patriots wide receiver Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson, Stone’s neighbor, tweeted the raid shocked the quiet Sunshine State enclave and was a “crazy” way to kick off the day.
After posting $250,000 bond, Stone emerged from court with his arms raised flashing victory hand signs. He said he’ll have his day in court.