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Trump officials, media figures saw Roger Stone as WikiLeaks backchannel: report

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Roger Stone in Trump Tower
Roger Stone in Trump
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  • New emails and text messages obtained by the New York
    Times suggest that members of the Trump campaign saw the
    longtime GOP operative Roger Stone as a back-channel to
    WikiLeaks.
  • WikiLeaks has been named in indictments from special
    counsel Robert Mueller’s office as the third-party group that
    played a crucial role in helping Russian hackers disseminate
    stolen emails.
  • The newly revealed communications show that Stone
    indicated he knew in advance about the content of the hacked
    emails.
  • Stone told the House Intelligence Committee last year
    that he had no advance knowledge of WikiLeaks’ document
    dumps.

As the special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into
Russian interference in the 2016 election zeroes in on Trump
campaign adviser and longtime GOP operative Roger Stone, new
evidence appears to show that campaign advisers saw him as a
reliable back channel to WikiLeaks, The New York Times reported
Thursday
.

According to emails obtained by The Times, Stone indicated on at
least two occasions that he was in touch with WikiLeaks and its
founder, Julian Assange. On at least one occasion, Stone
reportedly indicated that he had advance knowledge of hacked
Democratic emails that WikiLeaks was planning to release in
October 2016.

Emails and text messages between Stone and former campaign
officials obtained and reported on by the Times suggest that
Stone had advance knowledge not only that WikiLeaks had obtained
hacked emails from the Clinton campaign, but was aware of their
content. That would contradict his claims in congressional
testimony and in the media. 

The newly reported communications show that Stone discussed the
WikiLeaks document dumps with both campaign chairman Steve Bannon
and with Matthew Boyle, who at the time was the Washington editor
of the right-wing publication Breitbart previously led by Bannon.

“Assange — what’s he got?” Boyle asked Stone on October 3,
2016, according to the Times. “Hope it’s good.”

“It is,” Mr. Stone reportedly responded. Boyle then reportedly
pressed Bannon to contact Stone about the impending WikiLeaks
dump, telling Bannon, “clearly he knows what Assange
has.”

In an op-ed published in The Daily Caller
shortly before The Times’ story was published, Stone said his
communications with Bannon were not indicative of any inside
knowledge of WikiLeaks’ activities but based on Assange’s public
statements.




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“I had long predicted an October
release based on Assange’s June 2016 CNN interview with Anderson
Cooper in which he said he had a trove of documents on Hillary
and would release them,” Stone wrote. “I had been told this would
come in October for months by my source Randy Credico who I
identified for the House Intelligence Committee.

Stone has said that Credico, a
left-wing radio host, served as an intermediary between him and
Assange. Credico, who has testified under oath in the Mueller
probe, denies this.

Addressing the exchange with
Boyle during which Stone said that WikiLeaks had something “good”
on the Clinton campaign, the GOP strategist said his response was
based on Credico’s insistence that the material was
“devastating,” “bombshell,” and would “change the race.”

Just a few days after the exchange with Boyle, Stone’s prediction
came true. On October 7, WikiLeaks released a trove of
hacked emails from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. 

Stone did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Nearly a dozen of Stone’s
associates have been called to interview with the special counsel
or testify before a grand jury in the Russia probe. Mueller has
long been homing in on Stone as he examines whether Stone had
advance knowledge of WikiLeaks’ plans to disseminate Democratic
emails that had been stolen by the Russians.

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