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Mueller asking Paul Manafort for information on Roger Stone

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Robert Mueller
Robert
Mueller.

AP

  • Special counsel Robert Mueller is said to be asking Paul
    Manafort for information on the GOP strategist Roger Stone.
  • Mueller’s questions likely focus on whether Manafort has any
    knowledge of whether or not Stone knew in advance of WikiLeaks’
    plans to dump batches of hacked emails from the Democratic
    National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign.
  • Stone told Business Insider he is “unconcerned” about the
    development, adding that he believes Mueller has no evidence
    against him “because none exists.”
  • Stone appears to be girding for the possibility that he may
    be charged in the Russia investigation.
  • He is seeking donations to a legal defense fund and will
    announce new additions to his legal team after the November
    midterms.

Special counsel Robert Mueller is asking Paul Manafort, the
former chairman of President Donald Trump’s campaign, for
information about the longtime GOP strategist Roger Stone, ABC
News reported.

Manafort has been cooperating with the ongoing Russia
investigation since September, when he pleaded guilty to two
counts of conspiracy and obstruction of justice.

He is arguably the most significant cooperating witness to date,
given his prominent role on the Trump campaign during a pivotal
time in the 2016 election season.

Manafort was the chairman of President Donald Trump’s campaign
when he offered a Russian oligarch “private briefings” on Trump’s
bid. He was one of three top Trump campaign officials to attend a
meeting with two Russian lobbyists offering dirt on Democratic
nominee Hillary Clinton at the height of the campaign.

And he was leading the campaign when the radical pro-transparency
group WikiLeaks began dumping thousands of emails from the
Democratic National Committee that had been stolen by Russian
operatives.

Mueller has in recent months zeroed in on Stone’s links to
WikiLeaks.

WikiLeaks published thousands of hacked emails from the
Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign at the
height of the 2016 election. The US intelligence community
believes the breaches and subsequent dissemination of emails were
carried out on the Kremlin’s orders.

When prosecutors indicted 12 Russian intelligence officers in
July on conspiracy and hacking charges, they referenced WikiLeaks
— though not by name — as the Russians’ conduit to release stolen
documents via the hacker Guccifer 2.0, who is believed to be a
front for Russian military intelligence.

Manafort was the chairman of Trump’s campaign amid the Russian
hacking effort.

WikiLeaks dumped the first batch of hacked Democratic emails on
July 22, 2016. Days later, on August 2, Manafort met with the
Russian military intelligence operative Konstantin Kilimnik and
later said they discussed the Trump campaign and the DNC hack.
Kilimnik said they did not discuss the campaign but talked about
“current events” and “unpaid bills,” believed to be a reference
to Manafort’s financial debt to the Russian-Ukrainian oligarch
Oleg Deripaska.

On August 21, Stone blasted out a tweet that said, “Trust me, it
will soon [be] Podesta’s time in the barrel,” an apparent
reference to Clinton campaign manager John Podesta.


roger stone
Longtime
Donald Trump associate Roger Stone arrives to testify before the
House Intelligence Committee, on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, Sept. 26,
2017, in Washington.

Associated
Press/J. Scott Applewhite


WikiLeaks published a batch of hacked emails from Podesta’s
account days later.

Stone’s tweet and several others raised questions about whether
he had prior knowledge of WikiLeaks’ plans.

Stone denies knowing about the document dump in advance.

“Mr. Mueller has no evidence whatsoever of Russian collusion,
WikiLeaks collaboration, advance notice of the acquisition and
publication of John Podesta’s emails or any other illegal
activity pertaining to the 2016 election, because none exists,”
he told Business Insider in an earlier statement.

The GOP strategist is known to have been in direct communication
with WikiLeaks and Guccifer 2.0 during the election, and it’s
likely Mueller’s questions to Manafort drill down on ties between
Stone and WikiLeaks.

Stone said he has communicated indirectly with WikiLeaks founder
Julian Assange in the past through the radio host Randy Credico.
Credico denies the claim, and he said following a grand jury
appearance in September that prosecutors had demonstrated
interest in Stone’s statement.

In addition to Credico, Mueller has questioned nearly a dozen of
Stone’s associates, and many of them later appeared before a
federal grand jury.

Asked about his thoughts on what Mueller may be asking Manafort,
Stone replied, “I am unconcerned,” and referenced the statement
he made when Manafort’s cooperation deal was first announced.

“It has no bearing on me,” he said at the time.

But Stone appears to be girding for the possibility that he will
be indicted. Business Insider reported earlier this year
that he is planning on expanding his legal team and continues to
solicit donations to a legal defense fund. He told Business
Insider on Wednesday that he will announce the new additions to
his team after the November midterm elections.

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