Former Trump campaign advisor Roger Stone was arrested by
the FBI last night on charges stemming from Stone’s contact with WikiLeaks about
the release of stolen DNC data during the 2016 election. Stone is being charged
with obstructing the investigation into Russian interference in the election through making false statements and attempting
to convince another witness to make false statements. Stone’s arrest by armed FBI
agents in a pre-dawn raid was filmed by CNN.
The indictment does not directly mention President Trump but
it does provide firm links between Stone, WikiLeaks and the Trump Campaign. That
is bad news for a president who has claimed for years that there was no collusion,
and it may explain why Rudy
Giuliani, the president’s lawyer, has shifted from denying collusion to
saying that the president was not involved in illegal conspiracies.
Stone’s indictment is not sealed and is available online here.
Per the indictment, Stone left his official position at the Trump campaign in
August 2015 but remained in contact with Trump staffers throughout the
election. In June or July 2016, Stone informed the Trump campaign that he had
information that WikiLeaks had access to the stolen DNC data that would be
damaging to the Clinton campaign.
After WikiLeaks dumped a cache of stolen emails on July 22,
2016, “a senior Trump campaign official was directed,” the indictment does not
say by whom, to contact Stone about future releases. Afterward, Stone stayed in
contact with the Trump campaign and informed them about upcoming dumps of DNC
Post reported in March 2018 that Stone had been in contact with Sam
Nunberg, a Trump campaign advisor, about Assange. Nunberg may be the senior
Trump campaign official, but it could also be Steve Bannon. The New
York Times obtained emails between Stone and Bannon that match the dates
The indictment also indicates that the FBI has access to Stone’s
personal emails. It cites Stone’s correspondence with Person 1, an unnamed web
media figure and political commentator, in which the two discussed WikiLeaks
and coordination of attacks on the Clinton campaign. In numerous emails and in
a radio interview with Person 2, a radio host, Stone claimed to be in contact
with Julian Assange, the head of WikiLeaks, through a “mutual friend.” Person 1
is conspiracy author Jerome Corsi and Person 2 is Randy Credico, a right-wing
talk show host.
In one email dated August 2, 2016, Person 1 told Stone, “Word
is friend in embassy plans 2 more dumps. One shortly after I’m back [from a
trip in Europe]. 2nd in Oct. Impact
planned to be very damaging…” The email continued, “Would not hurt to start
suggesting HRC old, memory bad, has stroke
— neither he nor she well. I expect that much of next dump focus, setting stage for [Clinton] Foundation debacle.”
Stone and Person 2 were in email contact in early October
and discussed the WikiLeaks “October surprise.” Stone seemed to know that
something big was coming but not the precise information that would be released.
When Stone sent an email titled “WTF” to Person 2 on Oct. 2 after WikiLeaks canceled
a big data dump, Person 2 responded that the move was a “head fake” and said, “Hillary and her people are doing a
full-court press” to stop the next dump. Afterward, Stone passed this information
along to Trump supporters in the campaign and the conservative media.
A few days later on Oct. 7, WikiLeaks released the first of
the emails stolen from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. Afterward, an associate of the Trump campaign
official sent Stone a text message that said, “Well done.” Stone claimed credit
for the Podesta release in subsequent conversations with Trump campaign officials.
In testimony before the House Intelligence Committee on
Sept. 26, 2017, Stone denied any foreknowledge of the WikiLeaks releases. The
indictment charges him with making deliberately false and misleading statements
to Congress about the matter as well as lying about having documents pertinent
to the Russia investigation. In truth, the indictment says, Stone possessed
numerous emails and text messages about the WikiLeaks dumps including an email
to a “high-ranking member of the Trump Campaign on Oct. 4 that promised “a load every week going forward.”
Stone lied under oath about his contacts with Assange. Stone
said that his contacts with Assange were all through Person 2, Credico, when,
in reality, he had communicated with WikiLeaks through Person 1, Corsi, before
making contact with Person 2. Stone never admitted to being in contact with
Person 1 in his testimony.
Stone claimed that he never asked for information about the
stolen DNC documents from either Person 1 or 2. The indictment shows that Stone
directed both of the intermediaries to inquire about information damaging to
the Clinton Campaign. Stone also denied having written communications with the
intermediaries, but the FBI seems to have been able to recover both email and
Most damaging to President Trump, Stone also lied about his
contacts with the Trump campaign. The indictment says that Stone told “senior
Trump Campaign officials” about the WikiLeaks materials and timing of the
releases “on multiple occasions.” It specifically cites three emails in early
October just ahead of the Podesta dump.
In October 2017, Stone tried to cover his tracks. He sent an
email to Credico, Person 2, and asked him to confirm his testimony to the House
Intelligence Committee. Credico responded that Stone’s testimony was false and
that he should correct it.
In November 2017, Credico was called to testify before the
House Committee. His initial response was to contact Stone, who again asked
Credico to lie for him. Stone also suggested that Credico say that he could remember
what he told Stone or to invoke the Fifth Amendment.
“Stonewall it. Plead the fifth. Anything to save the plan. .
. Richard Nixon,” Stone texted.
Credico declined to testify voluntarily before the House
committee and was subpoenaed. He continued to contact Stone, who attempted to
direct his testimony and instructed him not to talk to the FBI. At one point,
Stone told Credico to “do a ‘Frank Pentangeli,’” a reference to a member of the
mafia in Godfather II who played dumb
Roger Stone’s indictment does not provide a smoking gun that
Donald Trump was involved in illegal collusion with the Russians through
WikiLeaks. However, it is a major setback for the Trump Administration because
of the years of claims that no one in the Trump campaign had worked with the
Russians against Hillary. Those claims are now proven false through Roger Stone’s
email and text contacts with members of the Trump campaign.
The indictment almost certainly does not tell everything
that Mueller knows about the Trump campaign’s involvement with WikiLeaks and
the Russians. There will no doubt be more to come in future indictments.