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.
Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III asked the House Intelligence Committee on Friday for an official transcript of Trump adviser Roger Stone’s testimony, according to people familiar with the request, a sign that prosecutors could be moving to charge him with a crime.
.. Securing an official transcript from the committee would be a necessary step before pursuing an indictment that Stone allegedly lied to lawmakers, legal experts said.
.. The special counsel could use the threat of a false-statement charge to seek cooperation from Stone, as Mueller has done with other Trump advisers, such as former national security adviser Michael Flynn and longtime Trump lawyer Michael Cohen... For weeks, the special counsel’s office has had access to an unofficial copy of Stone’s closed-door September 2017 interview, according to people with knowledge of the process. Mueller’s request of the official copy signals the special counsel could now be pursuing an indictment, several legal experts said... Stone accused House Democrats of “attempting to play frivolous word games, and hairsplitting about semantics over nonmaterial matters.”
Stone added: “Where is the evidence of Russian collusion or WikiLeaks collaboration?”
.. Stone, who boasted during the race that he was in touch with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, has said since that his past comments were exaggerated or misunderstood. Both he and WikiLeaks have adamantly denied they were in contact.
.. As part of that review, ODNI shares copies of the transcripts with other agencies, including the special counsel’s office, that might have an interest in protecting information in the interviews, officials said.
However, because the Stone interview was conducted in executive session, the transcript officially belongs to the committee and may not be released unless authorized by the committee, according to its rules.
.. Stone released written testimony he provided the House Intelligence Committee before his September 2017 interview, in which he wrote that he had no “advanced knowledge of the source or actual content of the WikiLeaks disclosures regarding Hillary Clinton.”
.. He told the panel that he based some of his predictions on public information and tips from associates. He also said that he had an intermediary who provided him with information about WikiLeaks — but refused to name the person, indicating the person was a journalist with whom he had spoken off the record.
.. Shortly after his closed-door appearance, Stone wrote a letter to the committee saying he learned about WikiLeaks’s planned release from Randy Credico, a New York comedian who had interviewed Assange and is a longtime friend of New York attorney Margaret Ratner Kunstler, who has represented WikiLeaks.
Credico has repeatedly denied passing any information from WikiLeaks to Stone. He said he may have speculated about the group’s tactics with Stone.
.. Stone has released numerous text messages that he says prove he was relying on Credico for information about the upcoming Wikileaks release of material damaging to Hillary Clinton’s campaign. In one of them Credico, who boasts of being best friends with Assange’s attorney, asserts that the Wikileaks founder will make an announcement soon. In another the comic writes: “Hillary’s campaign will die this week.”
.. In recent weeks, Mueller’s prosecutors have been focused on another Stone associate who alerted him to an upcoming WikiLeaks release in 2016: conservative writer Jerome Corsi.
In an Aug. 2, 2016, email, Corsi wrote to Stone that the group planned to disclose emails that October that would embarrass Clinton, according to charging documents drafted by Mueller’s team and provided to The Washington Post.
.. “Word is friend in embassy plans 2 more dumps,” Corsi wrote in the email quoted in the draft document, referring to Assange, who has been living in the Ecuadoran Embassy in London since 2012. “One shortly after I’m back. 2nd in Oct. Impact planned to be very damaging.”
.. Corsi, who rejected a plea offer from the special counsel, said the email was based on his speculation of what WikiLeaks might be planning, not any inside knowledge.
.. The day after receiving the message from Corsi, Stone has said, he spoke with Trump by phone.
.. Stone has said he never discussed WikiLeaks or hacked emails with Trump. “Unless Mueller has tape recordings of the phone calls, what would that prove?” he told The Post last month.
.. “The emails prove nothing,” Stone added, “other than like every other politico and political reporter in America, I was curious to know what it was that WikiLeaks had.”
.. Over the past several months, Mueller’s investigators have interviewed a dozen Stone friends and associates, focusing on individuals who discussed WikiLeaks with Stone before to the election. Some have provided testimony and records that contradict Stone’s claims.
.. Charles Ortel, a Wall Street analyst and conservative writer, told The Post that he was interviewed in New York last week by two FBI agents who asked about his 2016 contacts with Stone, Corsi and Credico.
Ortel said the agents were interested in an email from then-Fox News reporter James Rosen that Ortel forwarded to Stone on July 25, 2016. In it, Rosen wrote, “Am told WikiLeaks will be doing a massive dump of HRC emails relating to the CF in September,” referring to Clinton and her family foundation.
Ortel declined to disclose the full details of his FBI interview but told The Post that he did not know where Rosen had gotten his information about WikiLeaks’s plans.
Rosen, who no longer works at Fox News, has repeatedly declined to comment.
.. In written questions posed to the president earlier this year, Mueller sought information from Trump about his interactions with Stone and whether they discussed WikiLeaks.
According to people familiar with Trump’s responses, the president said he had no prior knowledge of what the group was going to do and that Stone did not tell him about WikiLeaks’s plans.
.. In recent days, however, Trump attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani was less definitive.
“Did Roger Stone ever give the president a heads-up on WikiLeaks’s leaks concerning Hillary Clinton and the DNC?” ABC News’s George Stephanopoulos asked him Sunday.
“No, I don’t believe so,” Giuliani said. “But again, if Roger Stone gave anybody a heads-up about WikiLeaks’s leaks, that’s not a crime . . . collusion is not a crime.”