On January 24th, a federal grand jury in Washington, D.C. convened by Special Counsel Robert Mueller returned an indictment of Roger Stone for false statements, obstruction of justice, and witness tampering. The indictment alleged that a very senior person in the Trump campaign — perhaps Donald Trump himself — directed subordinates in the summer of 2016 to contact Stone for information about Wikileaks’ plans for additional dumps of emails damaging to Hillary Clinton that had been stolen by Russian hackers.
Intrigue in Stone’s Indictment
On page four of Stone’s indictment, Mueller unexpectedly shifted into the passive voice for one key sentence: “After the July 22, 2016 release of stolen DNC emails by Organization 1, a senior Trump Campaign official was directed to contact STONE about any additional releases and what other damaging information Organization 1 had regarding the Clinton Campaign.”
It’s clear from the context that “Organization 1” refers to Wikileaks. What is less clear is what is meant by the curious use of “was directed,” as in, “a senior Trump Campaign official was directed to contact Stone.” There are, of course, only a limited number of people who could have “directed” a senior Trump Campaign official, so there was immediate speculation that prosecutors had shifted to the passive voice to avoid having to say “President 1 directed” or some other phrasing that would have clearly identified Donald Trump.