Top Trump campaign officials and right-wing media allies were convinced Roger Stone was much closer to WikiLeaks than he's let on

Roger Stone in Trump Tower

  • 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.

Read more: Roger Stone is becoming a prominent figure in the Russia investigation — here are all of his associates Mueller has called for questioning

Roger Stone

“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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