President Donald Trump accused special counsel Robert Mueller's team of tipping off CNN about the FBI's raid at Roger Stone's home in Florida. CNN insists that it was not tipped off, and it just followed good journalistic instincts.
What's the story with Roger Stone?
Just after 6 a.m. ET Friday, the FBI raided the home of political consultant Roger Stone and arrested him. Stone, who has been associated with President Donald Trump for years, now faces seven federal charges: five counts of making false statements, one count of witness tampering, and one count of obstruction of official proceedings.
After he was released on bond, Stone claimed that the agents could have "simply contacted my attorneys" instead of showing up at his home. He has insisted that he is innocent of all charges. He also said that he would not testify against Trump.
When the FBI raided Stone's residence, CNN was the only news network on the scene. By the network's own reporting, it had been watching Stone's house for an hour before the FBI showed up.
After Stone's arrest, Trump bashed Mueller's investigation on Twitter as the "Greatest Witch Hunt in the History of our Country!" and asked "[w]ho alerted CNN to be there?" Trump's implication was clearly that someone from the FBI had tipped off the network.
The Drudge Report echoed Trump's sentiment with a tagline that read simply "TIPPED OFF?"
What did CNN say?
Speaking with producer David Shortell, who had been at the scene, CNN host Alisyn Camerota asked, "But what's so fascinating is, we talked to his [Roger Stone's] attorney. His attorney didn't know this was coming, clearly Roger Stone didn't know this was coming. You were staked out at his house. You didn't know that this was coming. Why were you there, in position?"
"Alisyn," Shortell responded, "it's reporter's instinct. The whole Russia team [at CNN] thought maybe something was happening. There was some unusual grand jury activity in Washington, D.C., yesterday. The grand jury, Robert Mueller's grand jury, typically meets on Fridays. Yesterday, a Thursday, there was grand jury activity. We also had some other signs that maybe something was going on this angle, the Roger Stone angle.
"So we showed up at his house this morning," Shortell continued. "We were the only ones there. And, lo and behold, the FBI agents did come and arrest him."
There had indeed been unusual activity on the part of the grand jury the day before the arrest. On Thursday morning, Washington Post reporter Spencer Hsu tweeted that Mueller's grand jury had met, and noted that this was the "first time that I've seen [it meet on a Thursday] since July 12, day before the 12 GRU agents [Russian military intelligence agents] indictment."
It was reported that same day that the grand jury had been questioning the stepson of conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi, who had conversations with Stone in 2016 that were of interest to Mueller's team. Corsi, who himself is known to be a close associate of Stone, entered into a plea deal with Mueller in November.
Also on Thursday, CNN published a story about Stone "still living in limbo" and noted that when it came to Mueller's investigation "Stone seemed like a clear target." Stone himself has assumed for some time that Mueller was "coming for" him.
At Hot Air, Allahpundit noted that it's possible these two accounts aren't mutually exclusive. CNN could have followed a hunch, helped by tips from FBI sources. At the end of the day, the only people who know for sure what happened work at CNN.