(Gray News/AP) - Roger Stone maintained contact with a “high-ranking Trump campaign official” as he sought information on what hacked documents related to Hillary Clinton’s campaign WikiLeaks would release during the 2016 election season, according to court documents Friday.
Following a WikiLeaks release of stolen emails in October 2016, an associate of the unnamed “high-ranking Trump campaign official” texted Stone to say, “Well done.”
Stone, a long-time ally of President Donald Trump, was charged Friday with seven criminal counts, including obstruction of justice and witness tampering. He also was charged with making false statements, including those he made to the House Intelligence Committee, according Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office.
He was taken into custody by armed agents in a predawn raid at his Fort Lauderdale, FL, home.
A judge released him later in the day on a $250,000 bond, with travel restrictions.
In statements made outside the courthouse, he maintained his innocence and raised his fingers in the air a la President Richard Nixon, an image of whom he reportedly has tattooed on his back.
He made the statements outside the courthouse in a circus-like atmosphere of “Lock him up” chants and cheers from well-wishers.
Stone characterized the charges against him as “politically motivated” and complained that the pre-dawn raid at his home scared his wife and dogs. He said he would have liked to have had an opportunity to turn himself in.
Reports indicate that FBI agents raided his New York City residence Friday morning as well.
The indictment brought by Mueller does not accuse Stone of coordinating directly with the Russian government to interfere in the 2016 election, the key matter under investigation in the probe. But it lays out in detail Stone’s conversations about stolen Democratic emails posted by WikiLeaks in the weeks before Trump beat Clinton.
Mueller’s office has said those emails, belonging to Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, were hacked by Russian intelligence officers. Stone promoted WikiLeak’s work and made public predictions on Twitter about its disclosures, including trouble for Podesta specifically.
The court filing stated Stone communicated multiple times with a Trump campaign official directly or through other people associated with the campaign, to pass along information on WikiLeaks' plans. On the other side, he worked a source with a direct link to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, to see what information would be released and when.
In June or July 2016, Stone told senior Trump campaign officials he had information that WikiLeaks, identified as “Organization 1,” had documents damaging to the Clinton campaign they would release, Mueller’s office stated.
“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,” the indictment stated. “Stone thereafter told the Trump campaign about potential future releases of damaging material by Organization 1.”
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Friday that Stone’s indictment “has nothing to do with the president and certainly nothing to do with the White House.”
“This is something that has to do solely with that individual and not something that affects us here in this building,” she said.
Trump tweeted about it a few hours after the arrest, going back to his repeated phrases of “witch hunt” and “no collusion!” He also questioned why CNN had been at the raid.
Jim Sciutto, an anchor at the network, had responded to a similar Twitter query, saying, “Our reporters who cover this story everyday noticed unusual activity at Grand Jury and went to his home. That’s good journalism...”
Mueller requested transcripts of Stone’s House testimony on Dec. 19, a move that was described as a box-checking procedure in advance of an indictment. Stone has maintained his innocence throughout months of scrutiny.
From the spring through the summer, Stone on multiple occasions presented himself as someone who had special insight into WikiLeaks and even claimed to have had direct contact with Assange. CNN said that the private consultant traded messages with Guccifer 2.0, a front for the Russia intelligence services identified as the hackers by the FBI and other U.S. agencies.
In February, The Atlantic published private messages from the days that followed Wikileaks’ first disclosures between Stone and the group’s Twitter account.
A New York Times report from early November also revealed emails in which Stone was presenting himself as a Wikileaks insider to Steve Bannon, Trump’s former campaign chairman and White House adviser.
Stone changed his story after the investigation began to target him, saying he was not connected to Wikileaks or Assange in any significant way. He insisted the information he broadcast throughout 2016 about the group’s plans came from an associate outside Wikileaks, radio host and activist Randy Credico.
Credico denied it publicly. He told The Daily Beast in February that the testimony Stone gave to the House Intelligence Committee naming Credico was “a lot of bravado.”
“Roger’s a showman,” he said.
Mueller also this year reportedly obtained the testimony of one of Stone’s close confidants, so-called “Manhattan Madam” Kristin Davis, before a grand jury. In November, he apparently offered a plea deal to radio host and conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi, as the special counsel examined his potential link between WikiLeaks and Stone.
One of the best examples of Stone’s contradictions was an August 2016 email from Stone to Sam Nunberg, the former Trump adviser, which was revealed in April. In it, he said he had dinner with Assange.
It’s unlikely that would have happened, given that Assange has been stuck in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London for years, and Stone himself called it a joke.
As The Times put it, “whether Mr. Stone was, in fact, a trusted intermediary to WikiLeaks – or simply a master of puffery that made him appear so – remains a paramount question for Mr. Mueller’s investigators.”