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United States v. Stone

United States District Court, District of Columbia

September 19, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
ROGER J. STONE, JR., Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          AMY BERMAN JACKSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Pending before the Court are two motions filed by defendant Roger J. Stone, Jr.: a Motion to Suppress [Dkt. # 100] ("Def.'s Mot.") and a Motion to Compel Unredacted Versions of the Crowdstrike Reports [Dkt. # 103]. With respect to the second motion, the government has stated that it does not have an unredacted version of the Crowdstrike reports in its possession, and defendant has conceded that as a result, the motion is moot. Tr. of Mot. Hr'g, July 16, 2019 [Dkt. # 205] ("Tr.") at 30-31. Accordingly, the Court will deny the motion to compel as moot.

         As for the Motion to Suppress, Stone has moved to suppress the evidence obtained pursuant to eighteen search warrants executed in this case. He asserts that the factual underpinnings for all of the warrant applications - that the Russian government hacked computers belonging to the Democratic National Committee ("DNC"), the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee ("DCCC"), and the chairman of the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, and that Russia was responsible for giving the stolen data to WikiLeaks[1] - are false. Def.'s Mot. at 1, 4. Stone seeks an evidentiary hearing pursuant to Franks v. Delaware, 438 U.S. 154, 156 (1978), and he has supplied the opinions of two cyber analysts in support of his motion. Def.'s Mot. at 4-5. Because defendant has failed to satisfy either prong of the showing necessary to obtain a Franks hearing, the Court will deny the motion to suppress.

         BACKGROUND

         I. Procedural History

         On May 10, 2019, defendant moved "to suppress all evidence as fruit of illegal search warrants executed on specified dates and times." Def.'s Mot. at l.[2] The government opposed the motion, Gov't Opp. to Def.'s Mot. [Dkt. # 122] ("Gov't Opp."), defendant replied, Def.'s Reply to Gov't Opp. [Dkt. # 133] ("Def.'s Reply"), there was a surreply [Dkt. # 137], and the Court heard argument on the motion on July 16, 2019. See Tr.

         II. Applicable Facts

         Defendant is charged with making false statements to Congress, obstructing a congressional proceeding, and tampering with a witness in connection with that proceeding. See Ind. [Dkt. #1].

         The indictment alleges that in or around 2017, U.S. government officials publicly disclosed the existence of ongoing investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and possible links to individuals associated with the presidential campaigns. Ind. ¶ 18. In the months leading up to the election, WikiLeaks released tens of thousands of documents stolen from computers belonging to the DNC and to John Podesta, the chair of the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign. Ind. ¶ 3. The indictment also alleges that around the time of the releases, defendant claimed both publicly and privately that he had been in contact with WikiLeaks - either directly or through an intermediary - about the releases. Ind. ¶¶ 6, 14.

         In early 2017, two congressional committees announced their own investigations into the matter. Ind. ¶ 18- Defendant Stone, who had served as a political consultant to the campaign of then-candidate Donald Trump until approximately August 2015, Ind. ¶ 4, was called to testify before one of the committees, the U.S. House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence ("HPSCI" or "the Committee"). Ind. ¶ 19. The indictment arises out of Stone's alleged conduct in connection with the HPSCI investigation; it alleges that he testified falsely and that he sought to interfere with the testimony of others.

         The motion before the Court involves the evidence that may be introduced at trial. Beginning in mid-2017, law enforcement agents applied for and obtained warrants to search and seize evidence from a number of devices, accounts, and premises owned or controlled by the defendant. See SW1-SW18. All of the affidavits submitted with the warrant applications included statements referring to conclusions reached by the U.S. intelligence community[3] or by Crowdstrike, a cybersecurity firm hired by the DNC to investigate the intrusion into its computers, that Russian actors were responsible for infiltrating the target computers and/or delivering the stolen data to WikiLeaks.

         Defendant disputes conclusions, and he submits that their alleged inaccuracy invalidates the warrants issued based upon the agents' affidavits. See Def's Reply at 12-13 (identifying the challenged statements).

         LEGAL STANDARD

         The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects "[t]he right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures," and it provides that

no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

         U.S. Const, amend. IV. The Supreme Court has explained that a search warrant is supported by probable cause if there is a "fair probability that... evidence of a crime will be found in a particular ...


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