The Justice Department is examining communications between right-wing extremists who breached the Capitol and Roger J. Stone Jr., a close associate of former President Donald J. Trump, to determine whether Mr. Stone played any role in the extremists’ plans to disrupt the certification of President Biden’s electoral victory, a person familiar with the matter said on Saturday.
Should investigators find messages showing that Mr. Stone knew about or took part in those plans, they would have a factual basis to open a full criminal investigation into him, according to the person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a continuing inquiry. While that is far from certain, the person said, prosecutors in the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington are likely to do so if they find that connection.
Mr. Stone, a self-described fixer for Mr. Trump, evaded a 40-month prison term when the former president commuted his sentence in July and pardoned him in late December. Mr. Stone had been convicted on seven felony charges, which included obstructing a House inquiry into possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 election, lying to Congress and witness tampering. But that pardon does not protect Mr. Stone from future prosecutions.
Justice Department officials have debated for weeks whether to open a full investigation into Mr. Stone, the person said. While Mr. Stone spoke at an incendiary rally a day before the attack, had right-wing extremists act as his bodyguards and stood outside the Capitol, those actions themselves are not crimes.
But the F.B.I. also has video and other information to suggest that in the days leading to and including the day of the assault, Mr. Stone associated with men who eventually stormed the building and broke the law, said the person familiar with the inquiry. That has given investigators a window to examine communications to see whether Mr. Stone knew of any plans to breach the complex.
The New York Times has identified at least six members of the Oath Keepers, a far-right extremist group founded by former military and law enforcement personnel, who guarded Mr. Stone and were later seen inside the Capitol after a pro-Trump mob took the building by force. Prosecutors have charged two of those men with conspiring to attack Congress.
Great reporting on where this part of investigations may lead.— Ryan Goodman (@rgoodlaw) February 20, 2021
Alex Jones on Jan 1: “Roger Stone spent some substantial time with Trump in Florida just a few days ago, and I’m told big things are afoot and Trump’s got major actions up his sleeve.”https://t.co/kwZ4p6jhGp