Roger Stone Found Guilty of Lying to Congress, Witness Tampering

Trial focused on role of GOP operative as conduit between the Trump 2016 campaign and the organization WikiLeaks

Roger Stone, a flamboyant Republican operative and longtime adviser to President Trump, was found guilty Friday of lying to Congress and witness tampering, making him the latest member of the president’s circle to be convicted on federal charges.

Mr. Stone was found guilty of all seven counts against him, including five involving making false statements to Congress. Federal prosecutors made the case that Mr. Stone lied to Congress about his efforts to make contact with the organization WikiLeaks during the 2016 campaign. The jury of nine women and three men began deliberating Thursday morning at a Washington D.C. courthouse after a one-week trial.

The witness tampering charge carries a stiff penalty, with Mr. Stone facing as much as 20 years in prison, although first-time offenders often get far less than the maximum penalty. The other charges carry a maximum of five years.

WikiLeaks published several troves of Democratic Party emails stolen by Russian hackers as part of a Kremlin campaign to boost Mr. Trump at the expense of Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded.

““Roger Stone had no intention of being truthful with the committee…he is just making stuff up,” prosecutor Jonathan Kravis had told jurors, saying Mr. Stone did so to help Mr. Trump.

Mr. Stone is the sixth associate of Mr. Trump to be convicted on charges stemming from former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian activity in the 2016 election.

Mr. Mueller’s report didn’t establish that the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with Russia. The Stone trial was one of the final loose ends from the Mueller investigation, which wrapped up in March.

Mr. Stone’s defense attorneys portrayed him as a serial exaggerator who was merely pretending to have inside knowledge of WikiLeaks’ plans to inflate his standing in Mr. Trump’s inner circle. They offered no witnesses in Mr. Stone’s defense. They rested their case after playing a roughly hourlong clip of Mr. Stone’s testimony in front of Congress.

There was no purpose for Mr. Stone to have to lie about anything to protect the campaign, when the campaign was doing nothing wrong,” Bruce Rogow told jurors in summing up the case. He also noted that Mr. Stone spoke to Congress after Mr. Trump was elected, so couldn’t have hurt Mr. Trump’s campaign.

Mr. Stone has been a Republican operative for decades, beginning in 1972 when he served as a junior staffer on President Nixon’s reelection campaign. He went on to work for Ronald Reagan in his presidential bid. When in New York organizing for the campaign in 1979, he was introduced to Mr. Trump by attorney Roy Cohn.

Mr. Stone registered as a lobbyist on behalf of the Trump Organization in the late 1990s and early 2000s, according to public records. Around that time, he began counseling Mr. Trump on his political ambitions, and the two became friends.

Although Mr. Stone was sidelined from mainstream Republican politics following salacious revelations about his personal life in the mid-1990s, he continued to advise Mr. Trump for years, including helping to lead Mr. Trump’s aborted 2000 presidential campaign on the Reform Party ticket. He served on the Trump 2016 campaign when it started but severed ties in the summer of 2015.

Despite leaving his official role on the campaign, the two men remained in contact leading up to the 2016 election, according to testimony and phone logs introduced in court.

Witnesses testified that Mr. Stone relayed information about WikiLeaks’ plans directly to Mr. Trump and officials at the top of his campaign. Former campaign chairman Steve Bannon told jurors that the campaign considered Mr. Stone to be its “access point” to WikiLeaks, and former deputy campaign manager Rick Gates testified that Mr. Stone spoke about forthcoming WikiLeaks releases as early as April of 2016.

Mr. Stone has denied speaking to Mr. Trump about WikiLeaks, and Mr. Trump told the special counsel’s office he didn’t recall discussing WikiLeaks with Mr. Stone, according to written responses he provided to Mr. Mueller’s office last year.

While prosecutors argued Mr. Stone lied to the House Intelligence Committee and effectively obstructed their investigation by withholding the name of another witness—conservative activist Jerome Corsi—the trial didn’t resolve questions about whether Messrs. Stone and Corsi and Trump had inside information about WikiLeaks’ plans.

In July of 2016, Mr. Stone and Mr. Corsi exchanged emails as they scrambled to learn more about the material the organization planned to release.

“Get to Assange,” Mr. Stone wrote to Mr. Corsi on July 25, in a reference to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

Days later, Mr. Corsi responded that WikiLeaks planned “2 more dumps,” including one in October. “Time to let more than Podesta be exposed as in bed w enemy,” Mr. Corsi wrote, referring to Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.

Soon thereafter, Mr. Stone began boasting privately and publicly about his contact with Mr. Assange. Then, on Aug. 21, Mr. Stone tweeted: “Trust me, it will soon the Podesta’s time in the barrel” (sic). Weeks later, WikiLeaks began releasing emails stolen from Mr. Podesta, roiling the presidential race.

Mr. Corsi said he merely “figured out” that WikiLeaks had Mr. Podesta’s emails by using publicly available information, and both Mr. Corsi and Mr. Stone have denied being in touch with Mr. Assange directly or indirectly. Mr. Stone has also maintained that his tweet was related to the lobbying activities of Mr. Podesta and his brother Tony.

Mr. Assange has denied being in communication with Mr. Stone.

Mr. Corsi publicly rejected a plea deal from Mueller’s team last year. He said that while he was “constantly amending testimony,” he never intentionally lied to prosecutors. He also acknowledged deleting emails in which he and Mr. Stone discussed reaching out to WikiLeaks, though he denied wrongdoing and was never prosecuted.

To shield Mr. Corsi from scrutiny in the congressional probe, Mr. Stone falsely told lawmakers that he only had one “backchannel” to WikiLeaks, naming radio personality Randy Credico, prosecutors said. They argued that Mr. Stone corruptly persuaded Mr. Credico to lie to the House committee and even avoid testifying.

The other Trump associates who have been convicted in connection with the Mueller investigation are: Paul Manafort, former Trump campaign chairman, convicted by a jury of financial crimes; Mr. Gates, former deputy chairman of the campaign, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy and false statements; former national security adviser Mike Flynn, who pleaded guilty to false statements; former Trump personal lawyer Michael Cohen, who pleaded guilty to false statements, tax charges and campaign finance allegations; and George Papadopoulos, a low-level campaign aide who pleaded guilty to lying.

Trump Lies About Paul Manafort and “Tim Apple”: A Closer Look

Seth takes a closer look at President Trump lying about everything from Paul Manafort’s sentencing to a meeting with Apple CEO Tim Cook.

Eric Prince argues that the Senate transcript of his testimony is wrong.

DONALD TRUMP JR. WILL BE INDICTED BY MUELLER, FORMER PROSECUTOR SAYS, AND WILL HELP TO ENSNARE HIS FATHER

“Mueller is not going to indict Trump, because he’s going to follow the DOJ employee handbook, but he has leverage over the president in terms of Donald Trump, Jr.,” Butler explained. “We’ve seen Mueller use people’s kids to get to folks in the past. He could do this with Donald Trump, Jr.”

He continued: “Trump, Jr. went into the Senate Intelligence Committee, took an oath to tell the truth, and lied his butt off.”

“You think he will get indicted?” Reid asked.

“If Roger Stone and Michael Cohen get indicted for lying to the Intelligence Committee and Donald, Jr. lied, then he gets indicted too,” Butler responded.

Donald Trump Jr. Seems Relevant To Robert Mueller Paths Of Inquiry | Rachel Maddow | MSNBC

Rachel Maddow points out the frequency with which Donald Trump Jr.’s name seems to come up in discussions of Wikileaks contacts and potential lies to Congress, both of which appear to be topics of prosecutorial interest by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

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Trump Adviser Roger Stone Charged as Part of Mueller Investigation

Roger Stone appears in federal court in Florida and is released on $250,000 bond

A longtime political adviser to President Trump, Roger Stone, was arrested in Florida early Friday on charges of lying to Congress about his contacts with the website WikiLeaks during the 2016 campaign, in the latest indictment from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

In an indictment returned in Washington on Thursday, Mr. Stone was also charged with obstructing an official proceeding and trying to persuade a witness to lie to investigators.

In a CNN interview Friday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said of the indictment, “This has nothing to do with the president and certainly nothing to do with the White House.” She declined to respond to questions about whether Mr. Trump had directed a campaign official to contact Mr. Stone about what releases WikiLeaks had planned.

.. The 24-page indictment accuses Mr. Stone of lying to the House intelligence committee in May 2017 when he testified he had no documents or records relevant to the panel’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, and later when he testified in September 2017.

.. Mr. Stone had numerous emails and text messages dated to 2016 in which he discussed information possessed by WikiLeaks, the website U.S. officials say was the primary conduit for publishing materials stolen by Russia, according to the indictment and documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. Mr. Stone had also discussed his efforts to contact Julian Assange

.. The indictment alleges that on July 22, 2016, after WikiLeaks released a trove of emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee, a senior Trump campaign official “was directed to contact” Mr. Stone about any further releases the website had planned and to learn “what other damaging information” the organization had about the Clinton campaign. The indictment doesn’t specify who directed the official to contact Mr. Stone.

Five days later, Mr. Trump made a public plea: “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” referring to Mrs. Clinton’s email server

.. According to the indictment, on Oct. 3, 2016, Mr. Stone sent an email to a “supporter involved with the Trump Campaign” that read: “Spoke to my friend in London last night. The payload is still coming.”

.. That same day, a reporter at Breitbart, whose chairman was also Trump campaign chief executive Steve Bannon, emailed Mr. Stone to ask about Mr. Assange’s plans. The reporter asked, “What’s he got? Hope it’s good.” Breitbart isn’t identified by name in the indictment, but a person familiar with the emails confirmed the exchange.

.. Mr. Stone replied, “It is. I’d tell [Mr. Bannon] but he doesn’t call me back.” In the indictment, Mr. Bannon is referred to as a “high-ranking Trump Campaign official.”

The next day, according to the indictment, Mr. Stone responded to an email from Mr. Bannon and told him that WikiLeaks would release “a load every week going forward.”

On Oct. 7, when WikiLeaks released the first set of emails on the same day that the Washington Post published the “Access Hollywood” tape recording of Mr. Trump making lewd comments about women—an associate of Mr. Bannon texted Mr. Stone: “Well done,” according to the indictment.

Later, Mr. Stone claimed credit in conversations with Trump campaign officials for “having correctly predicted” the Oct. 7 release, the indictment said.

The indictment alleges Mr. Stone had asked two people to pass on a request to Mr. Assange for documents potentially damaging to the Clinton campaign.

In one July 2016 email, he asked his contact to “get to” Mr. Assange and “get the pending” emails, the indictment said. The Wall Street Journal has previously reported Mr. Stone sent such an email to conservative activist Jerome Corsi.

Lawmakers to Investigate Report That Trump Directed Cohen to Lie to Congress

House Democrats say they will look into whether President Trump asked former lawyer Michael Cohen to commit perjury

WASHINGTON—Lawmakers said they would investigate a report that President Trump directed his former lawyer Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about the president’s involvement in a real-estate deal with Russia during the 2016 campaign.

.. “The allegation that the President of the United States may have suborned perjury before our committee in an effort to curtail the investigation and cover up his business dealings with Russia is among the most serious to date,” he tweeted.

.. Mr. Trump in a tweet Friday morning suggested Mr. Cohen was “lying to reduce his jail time,” but didn’t specify what he believed his former lawyer was lying about. Mr. Cohen was already sentenced last month to three years in prison.

.. Responding to the reported allegation, Rudy Giuliani, a lawyer for Mr. Trump, questioned Mr. Cohen’s credibility. “Haven’t checked it out but if you believe Cohen I can get you a good all-cash deal on the Brooklyn Bridge,” Mr. Giuliani said via text message.

.. Other Democratic members of the panel called for severe consequences if Mr. Trump is found to have directed his lawyer to lie to Congress. “If the @BuzzFeed story is true, President Trump must resign or be impeached,” Rep. Joaquin Castro (D., Texas) said on Twitter.

Rep. Ted Lieu (D., Calif.), a member of the House Judiciary Committee, said in a tweet that the report “establishes a clear case of obstruction of justice,” and said: “It is time for the House Judiciary Committee to start holding hearings to establish a record of whether @POTUS committed high crimes.”

.. Buzzfeed News reported late Thursday, citing two law-enforcement officials, that Mr. Cohen had told special counsel Robert Mueller that the president had directed him to tell Congress in his 2017 testimony that negotiations for a Trump Tower in Moscow had ended in January 2016, when in fact they had continued through June of that year—a month after Mr. Trump effectively won the GOP nomination. Buzzfeed also reported that Mr. Mueller had evidence corroborating Mr. Trump’s direction of Mr. Cohen, including interviews and documents.

.. Suborning perjury is a crime that constitutes obstruction of justice. William Barr, Mr. Trump’s attorney general nominee, said in his confirmation hearing earlier this week that “a president persuading a person to commit perjury” was obstruction.

.. “Listen, if Mueller does have multiple sources confirming Trump directed Cohen to lie to Congress, then we need to know this ASAP. Mueller shouldn’t end his inquiry, but it’s about time for him to show Congress his cards before it’s too late for us to act,” Rep. Chris Murphy (D., Conn.) tweeted.

 

Michael Cohen Pleads Guilty to Lying to Congress About Effort to Build Moscow Tower

Former lawyer for President Trump charged as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation

.. Prosecutors told the judge Mr. Cohen downplayed to investigators his contacts with the Russian government. They said Mr. Cohen had a 20-minute conversation with a Kremlin representative about the proposed deal, but he told Congress that after emailing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s top press official for help in January 2016, he never got a response from the Kremlin.
.. Mr. Cohen’s false statements were partly aimed at concealing his discussions with Mr. Trump’s family members within the Trump Organization about the project
.. Mr. Cohen also lied about possible travel to Russia for the project during the campaign, he said. Mr. Cohen told Congress he had discussed the proposal with Mr. Trump on three occasions and that he “never considered asking” Mr. Trump to travel to Russia for the project. In fact, prosecutors said, Mr. Cohen asked Mr. Trump about traveling to Russia and asked a senior campaign official about the matter.
Prosecutors also said Mr. Cohen agreed to travel to Russia, which he had told Congress he never agreed to do. Mr. Cohen said Thursday the trip did not happen, and that he has never visited Russia.
..  A list of questions the special counsel provided to the president’s legal team earlier this year asked specifically about his communications with Mr. Cohen about Russian real-estate projects during the campaign
.. Under his first plea deal, Mr. Cohen and the government agreed to a sentence of between about four years and five years in prison. The false-statement charge carries a maximum of five years in prison.
.. On Thursday, Mr. Cohen said he also lied by asserting the Moscow project efforts had ended in January 2016, when they continued through June 2016. Mr. Trump became the Republican Party’s effective nominee a month earlier.
.. prosecutors said Mr. Cohen minimized the links between the Moscow project and Mr. Trump to give the false impression that the deal talks had ended before the 2016 Iowa caucus, in an attempt to limit the ongoing Russia investigations.

Mr. Trump on Thursday called Mr. Cohen a “weak person” and accused him of “lying” to get a reduced sentence.

.. “there would have been nothing wrong” if he had done it. He said he opted not to do the project because he was “focused on running for president.”

During the campaign, Mr. Trump repeatedly said he didn’t have business dealings with Russia.

.. Mr. Cohen’s efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow began in September 2015, Mr. Cohen told Congress, less than three months after Mr. Trump began running for president.

.. Both Mr. Cohen and another Trump associate, Mr. Sater—identified in the court papers Thursday as “Individual-2”—said in emails obtained by investigators that they planned to enlist top Russian officials’ help for the project.

.. In January 2016, Mr. Cohen sought help from Mr. Putin’s top press official in arranging the deal

.. Mr. Cohen met with the House and Senate Intelligence Committees in October 2017. The interviews focused largely on his efforts to build the Trump Tower in Moscow. In his statement for the Senate Intelligence Committee last year, Mr. Cohen wrote the proposal was “solely a real estate deal and nothing more.”