Ex-Trump aide Roger Stone: I will plead not guilty to charges

Deanna Kelley
January 26, 2019

Stone, who launched his career as a campaign aide to Richard Nixon and has a tattoo on his back of the first USA president to resign from office, has spent decades advising various USA political campaigns.

Stone is scheduled to appear in court in Florida later Friday.

CNBC, citing unnamed people familiar with the matter, reported on May 3 that Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating Russian election interference, was focusing on interactions between Stone and Trump's deputy campaign chairman, Rick Gates, who pleaded guilty in February to two counts stemming from the Russia probe and is cooperating with Mueller. He says any error he made in his testimony wasn't intentional. But identity of the "senior Trump Campaign official", and of the person who "directed" this official to use Stone for information about what WikiLeaks was doing is anyone's guess.

Stone appeared at court in shackles later in the morning and was released on a $250,000 bond. His case will be transferred to Washington, D.C.

US officials have repeatedly stated, and indeed this was the basis for launching the Mueller probe, that Russian intelligence agents were responsible for hacking Hillary Clinton's and other Democrats' email accounts and then giving them to WikiLeaks for public consumption. The indictment says Trump campaign associates sought disclosure of emails the USA says were hacked by Russian Federation.

That August, Stone tweeted that Clinton's campaign manager, John Podesta, would soon have "time in a barrel", suspiciously predicting trouble for him a full five weeks before Wikileaks released a batch of his emails.

Then later, after WikiLeaks released hacked material from the Democratic National Committee on July 22, 2016, the indictment says a senior Trump campaign official "was directed" to contact Stone about additional releases and "what other damaging information" WikiLeaks had "regarding the Clinton campaign". "STONE urged Person 2, if asked by HPSCI, to falsely confirm what STONE had previously testified to", the indictment says, referring to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Last month, after Stone said he would not testify against the president, Trump praised his "guts". That alleged lie, which he also told to Congress, forms the basis for some of his other criminal charges in Friday's indictment.

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Flynn pleaded guilty in December 2017 to lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation about his contacts with Russian Federation during Trump's presidential transition and agreed to cooperate with Mueller. Some of those false statements were made to the House intelligence committee, according to the indictment.

The indictment doesn't accuse any campaign officials of wrongdoing or say that they coordinated directly with WikiLeaks.

Roger Stone - the self-proclaimed "dirty trickster" of Republican politics and longtime ally of Donald Trump - has spent decades cultivating a reputation as a combative political operative with a penchant for making brash statements and trafficking in conspiracy theories. Stone responded that "Organization 1" would release "a load every week going forward".

Mr Stone has repeatedly said in interviews that he expected to be indicted. When Trump considered running ahead of the 2012 and 2016 elections, Stone was one of the first consultants he turned to.

Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani has said that Trump did have a few phone calls with Stone during the campaign based on the phone records he reviewed.

The arrest came after months of scrutiny over Stone's fate as federal prosecutors zeroed in on the veteran Republican strategist. It also doesn't say that Stone had any special knowledge of WikiLeaks' plans.

Stone has publicly denigrated the Mueller investigation and echoed the president's descriptions of it as a witch hunt.

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