Federal Prosecutors: Roger Stone Undermined Russia Investigation
Written by Luis Miguel
In closing arguments at the trial of political operative Roger Stone on Wednesday, prosecutors told the jury that Stone undermined the effectiveness of Congress’s Russia investigation by allegedly lying under oath in order to help the Donald Trump campaign avoid embarrassment.
Attorneys for the defense argued that the 67-year-old consultant and strategist did not deliberately do anything illegal and that the government relied on conjecture and leaps of logic.
Stone was indicted in January as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into supposed collusion between the Russian government and the Trump campaign during the 2016 presidential election.
His arrest during a January 25 raid at his Fort Lauderdale, Florida, home was conducted by a team of 29 FBI agents. Stone faces one count of obstruction of an official proceeding, five counts of false statements, and one count of witness tampering.
Specifically, Stone stands accused of lying to lawmakers about attempts to communicate with the website WikiLeaks and of interfering with the House Intelligence Committee’s probe into the Trump campaign.
If convicted, Stone could face up to 20 years in prison.
Stone, who has worked with the campaigns of Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and Bob Dole, among others, was involved with the Trump campaign briefly in 2015, leaving the team in August of that year but remaining a supporter of the New York billionaire-turned-politician.
Steve Bannon, the former Breitbart executive chairman who served as chief executive officer of the Trump campaign and White House chief strategist during the first seven months of the Trump administration, testified that the campaign considered Stone its “access point” to WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange.
It was WikiLeaks that during the 2016 election published e-mails from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, John Podesta.
The e-mails were seen as unfavorable to the Clinton campaign, particularly communications that revealed a bias among the Democratic Party leadership for Clinton and against Senator Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) during the primaries.
While members of the U.S. intelligence community have said that Russia hacked the e-mails and provided them to WikiLeaks, the nonprofit itself has denied that Russia or any other state was their source.
Bannon acknowledged that
“the campaign had no official access to WikiLeaks or to Julian Assange,” but “Roger would be considered if we needed an access point, because he had implied or told me he had a relationship with WikiLeaks and Julian Assange.”
In other words, the campaign never tapped Stone to make contact with WikiLeaks.
“Roger Stone was not sent by anyone in the campaign to talk to Julian Assange. Is that true?” Stone’s defense attorney asked Bannon.
“Not to my knowledge, no,” Bannon replied.
Moreover, Stone lawyer Bruce Rogow dismissed any attempts to contact Assange as standard practice for any political campaign. “There was nothing illegal about the campaign being interested in the information coming out,” he said. “Of course they were interested in the WikiLeaks information.”
But according to the prosecution, the knowledge of any relationship or connection between Stone and Assange would embarrass the Trump camp, causing him to try to keep it concealed from Congress.
“Roger Stone knew that if this information came out, it would look really bad before his longtime friend Donald Trump, so he lied to the committee,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Kravis. “He not only tried but succeeded in impeding the committee’s investigation.”
Prosecutors maintain that Stone is guilty of witness tampering for allegedly pressuring liberal radio host Randy Credico to refuse to testify before Congress or to plead the Fifth Amendment. Stone had told the House Intelligence Committee that Credico was his backchannel to Assange (although Credico has denied it).
Credico ultimately did cite the Fifth Amendment, but Rogow says it was because the talk-show host did not want to “ruin his reputation in the liberal community” by revealing he had indirectly worked with the Trump campaign via Stone.
The defense lawyer brushed off messages from Stone to Credico that prosecutors depicted as questionable as merely “the way these two guys operated.”
“These two guys tampered with one another for 20 years over all kinds of crazy things,” Rogow said.
In their closing statement, government attorneys seemed confident that Stone will be convicted. “That’s the beautiful thing about this case. The paper here doesn’t lie,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael John Marando said in court. “The documents do not lie.”
Luis Miguel is a writer whose journalistic endeavors shed light on the Deep State, the immigration crisis, and the enemies of freedom. Follow his exploits on Facebook, Twitter, Bitchute, and at luisantoniomiguel.com.
Courtesy of The New American