The early morning arrest of President Donald Trump's longtime former political adviser Roger Stone as part of the special counsel investigation over his communications with WikiLeaks prompted many to wonder what next awaits the president as the probe into Russian subversion of the 2016 presidential election strikes ever closer to home.
As the news sent shockwaves through Washington, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi asked the question so many of us have been wondering all along, and it's a direct hit at a president who has sought to undermine the probe from the moment it began.
Pelosi released the following statement shortly after Stone's arrest on charges that he obstructed an official proceeding, made false statements and engaged in witness tampering:
"The indictment of Roger Stone makes clear that there was a deliberate, coordinated attempt by top Trump campaign officials to influence the 2016 election and subvert the will of the American people. It is staggering that the President has chosen to surround himself with people who violated the integrity of our democracy and lied to the FBI and Congress about it.
In the face of 37 indictments, the President's continued actions to undermine the Special Counsel investigation raise the questions: what does Putin have on the President, politically, personally or financially? Why has the Trump Administration continued to discuss pulling the U.S. out of NATO, which would be a massive victory for Putin?
Lying to Congress and witness tampering constitute grave crimes. All who commit these illegal acts should be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law. We cannot allow any effort to intimidate witnesses or prevent them from appearing before Congress.
The Special Counsel investigation is working, and the House will continue to exercise our constitutional oversight responsibility and ensure that the Special Counsel investigation can continue free from interference from the White House."
The American people should "follow the facts," she wrote in a post to her official Twitter account.
A few hours after Stone's arrest, President Trump announced that the longest government shutdown in American history would end without the funding he'd requested to build a wall along our nation's southern border. The combination of her statement on Stone's arrest and the shutdown's end earned Pelosi considerable praise.
Stone has denied any wrongdoing.
"I look forward to being fully and completely vindicated," he told a group of supporters who'd gathered outside a Florida courthouse.
Stone has been a member of Trump's inner circle for decades and even pushed him to run for office for many years. He worked on Trump's failed bid with the Reform Party in 2000, and also worked on Trump's campaign in 2015 before transitioning to a more informal role.
Stone has been described as the "key" to unlocking the maze of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference. It was Stone who helped Guccifer 2.0 spread propaganda and misleading news stories to undermine the candidacy of Hillary Clinton. Guccifer 2.0 took credit for the infamous hacking of the Democratic National Committee systems, as well as accounts of other political party members and organizations.
U.S. intelligence officials believe Guccifer 2.0 is likely a Russian military agent or a persona that was used by many to broadcast information hacked by the GRU, Russia's military intelligence organization. FBI agents were able to ascertain that the entity was an officer of Russian military intelligence, as The Daily Beast had previously reported.
Stone has continued to deny allegations of collusion with Russia.