Roger Stone told Congress a series of ‘whoppers’ to cover up his attempts to get plundered Democratic Party emails from WikiLeaks because it would look ‘terrible’ for Donald Trump, a court heard on Wednesday.
Prosecutor Jonathan Kravis recapped the five key lies Stone told to ‘corrupt’ the 2017 House Intelligence Committee inquiry into possible Russian collusion in the 2016 election in his closing speech.
Jurors will shortly be asked to decide the fate of the self-described political dirty trickster, 67, who could spend decades behind bars if he’s found guilty of obstructing justice, witness tampering and lying to Congress.
Kravis said Stone first lied to lawmakers when he told them his ‘back channel’ to Julian Assange’s outfit was the comedian and radio host Randy Credico when it was actually a different man, the conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi.
Stone next allegedly lied when he told lawmakers he didn’t ask his intermediary to request anything from Assange and he further is accused of lying when he said he hadn’t relayed anything from his conversations with the back channel to the Trump Campaign.
Finally he lied when he said he had no communications with third parties about Assange and WikiLeaks, Kravis told Washington, D.C. District Court.
Roger Stone told Congress a series of ‘whoppers’ to cover up his attempts to get plundered Democratic Party emails from WikiLeaks, a court heard on Wednesday
Stone attempted to cover up his doings because it would look ‘terrible’ for Donald Trump, Prosecutor Jonathan Kravis said in his closing speech on Wednesday
THE CHARGES AGAINST ROGER STONE
Roger Stone is charged with:
1. Obstruction of justice, lying to Congress and witness tampering by trying to get Randy Credico to lie to Congress
2. Lying to Congress that he did not have emails or texts about Julian Assange
3. Lying when he claimed his references to being in touch with Assange were actually about a ‘go-between’ – Randy Credico
4. Lying that he didn’t ask his ‘go-between’ to communicate with Assange
5. Lying that he didn’t text or email the ‘go-between’ about WikiLeaks
6. Lying that he had never discussed conversation with his ‘go-between’ with anyone in the Trump campaign
That final falsehood was the biggest ‘whopper’ of the lot, the prosecutor said, because it was contradicted by the ‘overwhelming’ number of emails and texts that have been produced for jurors during the week-long trial.
The net result of Stone lying to lawmakers ‘over and over and over again’ was that the committee was impeded in its inquiries and its final report was inaccurate because it didn’t mention Corsi, Kravis said.
‘Mr Stone obstructed that investigation. He lied in his sworn testimony before the committee and he tampered with a witness called Randy Credico who could expose those lies,’ he told jurors.
‘Why did Mr Stone do these things? Because he knew that if the truth came out about what he had been doing in 2016 it would look terrible.
‘He knew there were emails and text messages from that time that showed he was repeatedly trying to get documents and information from WikiLeaks.
‘These emails and text messages would also show he was communicating with the Trump Campaign about WikiLeaks’ plans every chance he got.’
Turning to the tampering accusation, Kravis said Stone embarked on a ‘relentless campaign’ to silence Credico because he was the only person who could bring to light Stone’s lies to Congress.
The court heard Stone had boasted multiple times about his links to Assange at public events in August 2016 before he first spoke to Credico about Assange, who was interviewed on the comic’s show late that month.
He had also, weeks earlier, exchanged emails with Corsi talking about impending WikiLeaks ‘dumps’ and ‘our friend in London’, a reference to Assange who was in the UK at the time holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy trying to escape extradition to the US.
But when committee members asked him the ‘most important question: who is the intermediary?’ Stone insisted his back channel was Credico not Corsi, Kravis said.
Stone allegedly lied when he told lawmakers he didn’t ask his intermediary to request anything from WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange (pictured) and he further is accused of lying when he said he hadn’t relayed anything from his conversations with the back channel to the Trump Campaign
The prosecutor said Stone first lied to lawmakers when he told them his ‘back channel’ to Julian Assange’s outfit was the comedian and radio host Randy Credico (left) when it was actually a different man, the conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi (right)
That meant, however, that Credico remained a ‘big loose end’. But Stone knew he could pressure his erstwhile friend into pleading the Fifth rather than contradicting his evidence.
‘Ladies and gentlemen this is exactly why Roger Stone picked Randy Credico’ said Kravis.
‘Because he knew when the time came he would be able to bend Randy Credico until Randy Credico broke.
‘You can clearly see why he picked him to be the patsy in this. Randy Credico has admitted he’s had alcohol problems in his past. He can be hard to take seriously, he’s a comedian.’
When Credico begged Stone to rectify his false testimony by threatening to go public, the GOP schemer told him: ‘No one cares’, the court heard.
Kravis said: ‘You know who does care, the House Intelligence Committee. They asked Roger Stone these questions over and over and over again when he was under oath. Roger Stone does not get to pick and choose which facts are important and then lie about the rest.’
Delivering Stone’s riposte, lead defense attorney Bruce Rogow said the whole prosecution was based on the ‘flawed’ idea that Stone needed to protect Trump when he appeared before Congress in 2017.
‘There could be no sensible motive in trying to protect the campaign when the campaign was long since over and Mr Trump was president of the United States,’ he said.
Rogow said there was nothing illegal in the Trump Campaign seeking to get hold of material they could use to attack Clinton, whose operatives would have been looking for similar dirt on Trump.
He also argued that Stone should not be convicted of having lied about a ‘back channel’ when the prosecution had not produced proof that a back channel ever existed.
Stone, who was seen leaving for lunch on Wednesday, could spend decades behind bars if he’s found guilty of obstructing justice, witness tampering and lying to Congress
Corsi was not called upon to give evidence and Credico – an avowed ‘lefty’ who offered to do a Bernie Sanders impersonation during the trial – clearly knew nothing about WikiLeaks beyond what was already in the public domain, he said.
In fact, it was Credico who played Stone, Rogow went on.
‘We have Mr Credico admitting he was trying to make Stone think he was a big guy. I think he used the language, I was one-upping Stone,’ he told jurors.
‘Nobody but Julian Assange knew when he was going to put something out.’
Furthermore, Rogow said there was no evidence Credico took the Fifth at Stone’s urging. He said the erstwhile friends had been bickering and ‘tampering with one another for 20 years’.
‘He [Credico] didn’t want to be outed as someone who had done stuff that was helpful to Donald Trump,’ Rogow said.
‘That was the reason for him to keep himself under cover, it would ruin his reputation in the liberal community in which he operated.
‘Credico played Stone. I guess you could say Stone played the campaign by letting them think he had some super connection.’
Stone, wearing a Crombie-style overcoat in Lovat Covert cloth fabric with a felted brown collar, a matching homburg hat, grey suit, blue shirt and striped tie, listened intently as both sides wrapped their arguments and the jury was told it would be starting deliberations Thursday morning.
If they return guilty verdicts on the seven-charge indictment he could face up to 20 years in prison.
The trial had earlier heard how Stone saw the now-infamous hack as a way to ‘save Trump’s ass’ and get his longtime friend into the White House at Clinton’s expense.
He used two different associates to try to tease information from WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange about his plans to publish the plundered trove, then contacted senior Trump Campaign officials to pass on what he knew to help swing the vote their way.
Stone also concealed numerous conversations with senior Trump Campaign figures including White House chief strategist Steve Bannon (pictured), ex Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort and even Trump himself, it’s alleged
When asked to testify before Congress one year later about possible Russian collusion, however, Stone ‘covered his tracks’ by lying to lawmakers and telling them he had one intermediary rather than two.
He also concealed numerous conversations with senior Trump Campaign figures including White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, ex Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort and even Trump himself, it’s alleged.
Compelled to testify by subpoena, Bannon told the trial last week he considered Stone the campaign’s ‘access point’ to WikiLeaks.
To the ‘best of his knowledge’ nobody on the Campaign ever asked Stone to secure info from WikiLeaks, nor ask him messages to its founder, he said.
Nonetheless Bannon confirmed the Campaign did have an interest in anything that could ‘help Donald Trump and possibly hurt Hillary Clinton’.
‘Roger would have been considered an access point if we needed an access point because he implied and he told me he had a relationship with WikiLeaks and Julian Assange,’ said Bannon.
Stone also made several mysterious phone calls to Trump himself, one just days after the DNC announced to the world it had been hacked, the trial heard.
Former campaign official Rick Gates told the court he overheard the pair talking in late July 2016 as they took a limo from Trump Tower to New York’s La Guardia airport.
After the call ended Gates, 47, who is awaiting sentencing himself for fraud and lying to federal investigators, recalled Trump telling him ‘more information would be forthcoming.’
Gates also detailed an email he received from Stone on June 15, one day after the Democratic National Party publicly admitted it had been targeted by hackers, saying: ‘Need contact info for Jared,’
That was a reference to Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner, whom Stone wanted to ‘de brief’ about WikiLeaks, he said.
Gates said the hack itself provoked ‘happiness’ within the Trump Campaign, telling jurors it was a ‘gift’ and a ‘leg up’ to their candidate’s chances.
Longtime Trump confidante Roger Stone was seen on Wednesday heading to court with his wife Nydia Stone, wearing a Crombie-style overcoat in Lovat Covert cloth fabric with a felted brown collar, a matching homburg hat, grey suit, blue shirt and striped tie
Stone also made several mysterious phone calls to Trump himself, one just days after the DNC announced to the world it had been hacked, the trial heard. Former campaign official Rick Gates (pictured) told the court he overheard the pair talking in late July 2016 as they took a limo from Trump Tower to New York’s La Guardia airport
When asked to testify to the House Intelligence Committee one year later about Russian involvement in the DNC hack and attempts to interfere with the election, Stone denied any such conversations had taken place.
He also mislead lawmakers and about his sources and falsely told the committee he didn’t have any emails, texts or documents relevant to their probe, said prosecutor Aaron Zelinksy.
‘In a critical investigation of national importance, the defendant, Roger Stone, repeatedly lied under oath to a congressional committee and lied under oath to cover his tracks,’ he told the jury comprising nine women and three men.
When Credico threatened to contradict the testimony by denying he was the principal go-between Stone had been publicly bragging about, Stone repeatedly told him to plead the Fifth or do a ‘Frank Pentangeli’, it’s claimed.
Prosecutors say that is a reference to a character in Godfather Part II who lies to a congressional committee to help the Corleone family before committing suicide.
The rattled comic eventually did plead the Fifth but only after Stone peppered him with threats and insults, including ‘Prepare to die cocksucker. You are a rat,’ the court was told.
He even threatened Credico’s therapy dog Bianca, a 13-year-old Coton de Tulear, writing in an text message read out to the trial: ‘I’m going to take that dog away from you.’
Stone was indicted by a grand jury as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged collusion between the Trump Campaign and Russia.
He decided not to give testimony and his legal team chose to play audio of his appearance before Congress rather than call a single witness.
The former Nixon campaign adviser – who has the disgraced former president’s face permanently tattooed on his back – never meant to lie to Congress and was merely guilty of boasting and overstating the extent of his contacts, his attorneys told the court.