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Stone advocated a presidential pardon for Julian Assange: report

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Roger Stone
Roger Stone.
Hollis
Johnson


  • Roger Stone reportedly advocated for a preemptive
    presidential pardon for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. 
  • WikiLeaks played a pivotal role in the 2016 election when it
    released batches of damaging emails from the Democratic National
    Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign after obtaining them
    from a hacker aligned with Russian military intelligence.
  • The special counsel Robert Mueller has zeroed in on Stone and
    WikiLeaks in recent months as he examines whether Stone knew in
    advance about the Russians’ hack and WikiLeaks’ plans to release
    the emails.
  • Stone is known to have been in direct communication with
    WikiLeaks and the Russian hacker, Guccifer 2.0, during the
    election. He also previously said he was in indirect
    communication with Assange.

Roger Stone, a longtime Republican operative and informal adviser
to President Donald Trump’s campaign, advocated for a
presidential pardon for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, Mother
Jones reported on Thursday. 

“I am working with others to get JA a blanket pardon,”
Stone wrote to the talk show host Randy Credico on January 6,
according to text messages
obtained by Mother Jones
. “

It’s very real and
very possible. Don’t f— it up,” he said.

While Assange has not been charged with a federal crime,
legal experts say the president is within his rights to preemptively pardon someone
for any federal crime they might be charged with in the
future. 

“I most definitely advocated a pardon for Assange,” Stone
said in an email to Mother Jones, adding that he also pushed for
Fox News host and former Judge Andrew Napolitano to support the
possible pardon. 

Mike Pompeo, then the director of the CIA, described
WikiLeaks as a “hostile, non-state intelligence service” last
year. The organization was instrumental in disseminating hacked
emails belonging to then Democratic presidential nominee Hillary
Clinton and the Democratic National Committee. It obtained those
emails from Guccifer 2.0, a hacker with confirmed ties to Russian
military intelligence.

When the special counsel Robert Mueller indicted 12 Russian
intelligence officers earleir this year, the charging document
specifically named Guccifer 2.0 and the website DCLeaks.

The document says the defendants falsely
claimed that DCLeaks was controlled by American hackers and that
Guccifer 2.0 was a Romanian hacker when in fact both were created
and controlled by the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence outfit.

Moreover, the indictment says the conspirators — in this case,
Guccifer 2.0 — communicated with US persons about the release of
stolen documents. In one instance, it says, the conspirator
posing as Guccifer 2.0 contacted a person who was “in regular
contact with senior members of the presidential campaign of
Donald J. Trump.”

The conspirator wrote to this person thanking them for “writing
back” and asking whether they found anything “interesting in the
docs i posted,” the indictment says.

The document does not name or charge any Americans with
crimes. But previous reporting has found that Stone was in touch
with Guccifer 2.0 before the election.


Julian Assange
Julian Assange.
Carl
Court/Getty Images


Prosecutors also said the Russian intelligence officers
transferred stolen documents to an unidentified third-party
organization and used it to release information and discuss the
timing of those releases so they would have the maximum impact
during the campaign. Though the document does not name the
organization, evidence strongly suggests it was
WikiLeaks.

 

Stone and Donald Trump Jr., Trump’s oldest son, maintained extensive contacts with
WikiLeaks
during the 2016 campaign. Stone has also said that
Credico served as an intermediary between him and Assange.

Credico is known to be an ally of Assange’s. He raised some
eyebrows when he tweeted a selfie of him outside the Ecuadorian
embassy in London, where Assange is staying, two days before
WikiLeaks dumped the first batch of Clinton campaign emails in
October 2016.

Jens David Ohlin, a vice dean at Cornell Law School and an
expert in criminal law, told Business Insider that if Stone is
advocating for a pardon for Assange as part of a quid pro quo,
“then it would certainly be illegal.”

“If, in other words, someone offered Assange a pardon in
exchange for Assange releasing hacked emails to influence the
election, this would constitute a criminal conspiracy,” he added.
“If Trump or those close to him were part of these discussions,
they would all be part of the same criminal conspiracy.”

Nearly a dozen of Stone’s associates have interviewed with
Mueller or testified before a grand jury in recent months.

The Washington Post reported Sunday that the jury
has heard over 12 combined hours
of testimony on Stone, with FBI analysts simultaneously examining
large batches of messages
to determine whether or not Stone
had prior knowledge about WikiLeaks’ possession of Democratic
emails.

And NBC News recently reported that Mueller has evidence
suggesting Jerome Corsi, a far-right conspiracy theorist and
close associate of Stone, may have known in advance that emails
from the Clinton campaign had been hacked and handed over to
WikiLeaks.

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 said
he will announce the new additions to his team after the November
midterm elections. 

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