The Friday morning arrest of former Trump campaign official and longtime GOP operative Roger Stone marks a significant new chapter in the investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller into links between the president’s 2016 election team and Russia.
Mueller hit Stone with a seven-count indictment for lying to a congressional committee and attempting to “persuade a witness to provide false testimony.” On his release after posting a $250,000 bond, Stone insisted he’s been “falsely accused.”
The indictment opens a window onto an alleged back channel between the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks as the “transparency organization” published emails Russia had hacked from the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign during the final months of the 2016 presidential election.
(The indictment does not name WikiLeaks — referring instead to “Organization 1” — but there is no mystery here: “The head of Organization 1 was located at all relevant times at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, United Kingdom,” the indictment reads, in clear reference to the exiled WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.)
Below are four key allegations from the 24-page indictment of Roger Stone:
The Trump campaign appears to have actively back-channeled to WikiLeaks through Stone and his associates
According to the indictment, senior Trump officials were regularly informed by Stone about the stolen documents WikiLeaks possessed and the timing of their release. At times, Stone appeared to be directed by leaders within the Trump campaign.
The indictment describes Stone communicating with “a senior Trump Campaign official.” It also, refers to that senior official as being directed to talk to Stone — raising the question: Who is this unnamed director, and is it possibly Donald Trump himself?
(House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff tweeted this is the “most significant” part of the Stone indictment, adding: “This was at same time candidate Trump was publicly calling for Russia’s help in obtaining Clinton’s emails.”)
The indictment reads in part:
“During the summer of 2016, STONE spoke to senior Trump Campaign officials about Organization 1 and information it might have had that would be damaging to the Clinton Campaign.”
“After the July 22, 2016 release of stolen DNC emails by Organization 1, a senior Trump Campaign official was directed to contact STONE about any additional releases and what other damaging information Organization 1 had regarding the Clinton Campaign.”
According to the indictment, the communication between Stone and the Trump campaign about WikiLeaks continued into the late summer: “By in or around early August 2016, STONE was claiming both publicly and privately to have communicated with Organization 1…. STONE also continued to communicate with members of the Trump Campaign about Organization 1 and its intended future releases.”
Stone allegedly played a critical role in keeping the campaign abreast of WikiLeaks’ timing into the last weeks of the campaign:
“On or about October 3, 2016, STONE wrote to a supporter involved with the Trump Campaign, ‘Spoke to my friend in London last night. The payload is still coming.’”
“STONE received an email from the high-ranking Trump Campaign official asking about the status of future releases by Organization 1…. The emails on or about October 4, 2016 between STONE and the high-ranking member of the Trump Campaign, includ[ed] STONE’s statement that Organization 1 would release ‘a load every week going forward.’”
“Shortly after Organization 1’s release, an associate of the high-ranking Trump Campaign official sent a text message to STONE that read ‘well done.’ In subsequent conversations with senior Trump Campaign officials, STONE claimed credit for having correctly predicted the October 7, 2016 release.”
Stone allegedly worked with two other political operatives to communicate with WikiLeaks and Assange
Across its 24 pages, the indictment offers extensive details about two Stone associates who allegedly helped him back-channel with WikiLeaks. According to MSNBC Host Ari Melber, “Person 1” has revealed himself to be Jerome Corsi, the right wing author and erstwhile InfoWars D.C. Bureau Chief who was involved in the Swift-Boating of John Kerry in the 2004 presidential campaign. Melber and others have identified Person 2 as Randy Credico, a radio host and political gadfly who has repeatedly run for top offices in New York as a Democrat.
Stone allegedly lied to Congress about his communications with WikiLeaks and the Trump Campaign
According to the indictment, Stone lied to House investigators on the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI). The indictment reads:
“In the course of his HPSCI testimony, STONE made deliberately false and misleading statements to the committee concerning, among other things, his possession of documents pertinent to HPSCI’s investigation; the source for his early August 2016 statements about Organization 1; requests he made for information from the head of Organization 1; his communications with his identified intermediary; and his communications with the Trump Campaign about Organization 1.”
Stone allegedly tried to get Person 2 to refuse to testify or mislead investigators
The indictment alleges that Stone tried to get Person 2 (reportedly Credico) to either falsely back up the story Stone had told Congress or to invoke the Fifth Amendment to avoid testifying.
The indictment captures Stone invoking president Nixon in one text: “STONE responded, ‘Stonewall it. Plead the fifth. Anything to save the plan’ . . . Richard Nixon.”
According to the indictment, Stone also invoked the Godfather movies:
“On multiple occasions, including on or about December 1, 2017, STONE told Person 2 that Person 2 should do a ‘Frank Pentangeli’ before HPSCI in order to avoid contradicting STONE’s testimony. Frank Pentangeli is a character in The Godfather: Part II, which both STONE and Person 2 had discussed, who testifies before a congressional committee and in that testimony claims not to know critical information that he does in fact know.”
As the relationship between Stone and Person 2 turned sour, Stone allegedly threatened violence against Person 2 and his dog:
“On or about April 9, 2018, STONE wrote in an email to Person 2, ‘You are a rat. A stoolie. You backstab your friends-run your mouth my lawyers are dying Rip you to shreds.” STONE also said he would “take that dog away from you,” referring to Person 2’s dog. On or about the same day, STONE wrote to Person 2, “I am so ready. Let’s get it on. Prepare to die [expletive].’”