Roger Stone arrested: Former Trump adviser charged by FBI in Mueller probe

Trump campaign officials were in contact with Stone over Wikileaks and hacked Clinton campaign emails, according to indictment

Tom Embury-Dennis
Friday 25 January 2019 12:28
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FBI makes Roger Stone arrest

Donald Trump's former adviser Roger Stone has been arrested as part of the special counsel's investigation into the Trump campaign and its links to Russia.

The FBI has charged Mr Stone on seven counts, involving witness tampering, obstruction and false statements about his interactions related to the release by WikiLeaks of hacked emails during the 2016 presidential election.

Stone was arrested on Friday at his home in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, after being indicted on Thursday.

CNN captured footage of the raid by FBI agents in combat gear using large weapons and night-vision equipment, running up to hte home and banging repeatedly on the door. Mr Stone is due to appear in court later.

Law enforcement officials were also reportedly seen taking hard drives and other evidence from Mr Stone’s apartment in New York.

The indictment brought by Robert Mueller, the special counsel, does not accuse Mr Stone of co-ordinating with the Russian government's election interference in 2016, the key matter under investigation in the probe, but it lays out in detail Mr Stone's conversations about stolen Democratic emails posted by WikiLeaks in the weeks before the election.

Mr Mueller's office has said those emails, belonging to Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, were hacked by Russian intelligence officers.

It also provides the most detail to date about how senior Trump associates were aware in summer 2016 that emails had been stolen from the Clinton campaign and wanted them released.

It alleges unnamed senior campaign officials contacted Mr Stone to ask when the stolen emails might be disclosed.

According to the grand jury indictment, Mr Stone was contacted by senior Trump campaign officials to inquire about future releases by an unnamed "Organization 1", presumed to be WikiLeaks.

"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," the indictment reads. "Stone was contacted by senior Trump Campaign officials to inquire about future releases by Organization 1."

After the 2016 presidential election, Mr Stone attempted to block congressional and FBI investigations into Russian interference, according to the document, by making "multiple false statements" to Congress about his interactions with "Organization 1".

He also tried to "persuade a witness to provide false testimony" to the investigations.

In July 2016, four months before the election, Mr Stone informed senior Trump campaign officials he had information indicating "Organization 1" had documents damaging to Mr Trump's presidential rival, Hillary Clinton.

"The head of Organization 1 was located at all relevant times at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London," the indictment reads. Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, has been holed up in Ecuador's British embassy since the summer of 2012.

On 22 July 2016, a senior Trump official was "directed" by an unnamed figure to contact Mr Stone about any additional releases and what other damaging information WikiLeaks held on Ms Clinton. Mr Stone thereafter allegedly continued to provide the Trump campaign about potential future releases.

Read the indictment in full below:

Mr Stone in August received an email from an unnamed individual, called "Person 1" in the indictment, which stated there would be two more "very damaging" dumps against the Clinton campaign by WikiLeaks.

"Would not hurt to start suggesting HRC (Ms Clinton) old, memory bad, has stroke – neither he (Mr Posdesta) nor she well," the email allegedly said.

After WikiLeaks released in October a set of emails stolen from Mr Podesta, an associate of a "high-ranking" Trump official sent a text message to Stone that said, "Well done", according to the indictment.

After the election, Mr Stone made "deliberately false and misleading statements" to the House intelligence committee on a range of topics involved in its investigation into Russian interference, including his "communications with the Trump campaign" about WikiLeaks.

Former Trump adviser Roger Stone indicted and arrested in Mueller investigation

The indictment had been expected. Mr Stone has said for months he was prepared to be charged, although he has denied any wrongdoing.

A grand jury has for months heard from witnesses connected to Mr Stone, and the intelligence committee last year voted to release a transcript of his evidence to Mr Mueller as a precursor to an indictment.

Mr Stone has publicly condemned the Mueller investigation and echoed the president's descriptions of it as a witch hunt, but he has long attracted investigators' attention, especially in light of a 2016 tweet that appeared to presage knowledge that emails stolen from Mr Podesta would soon be released.

Mr Stone has said he had no inside information about the contents of the emails in WikiLeaks' possession or the timing of when they would be released.

He has said he learned from Randy Credico, a New York radio host, that WikiLeaks had the emails and planned to disclose them. Mr Stone has released emails that he says support that assertion.

Prosecutors had offered a plea agreement to Mr Stone friend Jerome Corsi that would have required the conspiracy theorist and conservative author to admit that he intentionally lied to investigators about a discussion with Mr Stone about WikiLeaks, but he rejected the offer.

Mr Stone is the sixth Trump aide charged in Mueller's investigation into potential coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign and the 34th person overall.

The investigation has laid bare multiple contacts between Trump associates and Russia during the campaign and transition period and efforts by several to conceal those communications.

Additional reporting by agencies

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