Former Trump campaign manager and White House strategist Steve Bannon testified in the Roger Stone trial on Friday, and it did not go well for Stone. Bannon, who was subpoenaed as a witness, told the court that Stone claimed to be in contact with Wikileaks prior to the release of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s emails, something Stone denied to the Mueller investigation and Congress.
“He had a relationship, or told me he had a relationship with WikiLeaks,” Bannon, who was sporting his trademark look of too-many-shirts told the jury. “It was something I think he would frequently mention.”
But more than that, according to Bannon, Stone also said he was in touch with Wikileaks’ top brass. “I was led to believe he had a relationship with WikiLeaks and [its founder] Julian Assange,” Bannon said.
Explaining Stone’s tactics, Bannon testified, “Roger is an expert in the tougher side of politics. When you’re this far behind, you’re going to have to use every tool in the tool box… opposition research, dirty tricks, the kind of things campaigns use when you need to make up some ground.”
Stone is also charged with witness tampering for allegedly threatening former radio show host Randy Credico to persuade him not to testify to Congress. According to Credico, who also testified Friday, Stone threatened to harm the career of one of Credico’s friends and even threatened to steal Credico’s therapy dog.
According to evidence from the trial, Stone texted Credico: “You are a rat. A stoolie. You backstab your friends-run your mouth [and] my lawyers are dying [to] Rip you to shreds.” Stone later texted: “I am so ready. Let’s get it on. Prepare to die” and said he would “take that dog away from you,” sounding more like a mobster than a presidential campaign aide.
Credico even said Stone used mob movie references as intimidation, telling him that he would “do a Frank Pentangeli” if Credico testified to Congress, referring to a scene in The Godfather: Part II where the brother of a witness, Frank Pentangeli, is brought into the congressional hearing room to intimidate the witness into silence. Jurors were then instructed by the judge not to go home and watch the film, which has been referenced multiple times in the trial. “Don’t download The Godfather on Netflix,” US District Judge Amy Berman Jackson told the jury.
While Stone’s defense team tried to paint the film reference as Stone requesting Credico do an impression of Pentangeli’s character, Credico said he interpreted the remark to be an order to “throw… off the House Intelligence Committee.”
Mob tricks may work in the movies, but for Roger Stone, life does not seem to be imitating art as the evidence mounts against him.