- Roger Stone, a former associate of Donald Trump, told another Trump associate in August 2016 that he had met with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
- Special counsel Robert Mueller is reportedly looking into this alleged meeting.
- Stone said the statement was a joke and the meeting did not happen. Stone and Assange were apparently thousands of miles apart at the time.
- Stone previously had spoken about a back channel between him and Assange.
- WikiLeaks has denied communicating with Stone both in public and in private.
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Special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating a 2016 email sent by Roger Stone – the former adviser on Donald Trump’s presidential campaign – that claims he had met with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, according to a Wall Street Journal source.
Stone had reportedly sent the email to another former Trump associate, Sam Nunberg, on August 4, 2016, and wrote, “I dined with Julian Assange last night.” The Journal obtained a copy of the email that Stone had sent.
A few days earlier, on July 22, 2016, WikiLeaks had published a trove of emails that had been hacked from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) servers, most likely by Russians. At that point in the election cycle, neither Stone nor Nunberg were members of the Trump campaign.
Mueller is investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election and trying to determine whether members of Trump’s campaign were part of that effort. Mueller’s team asked Stone’s email to Nunberg during testimony before a grand jury, a person familiar with the matter told The Journal.
But according to Stone, he never ate dinner with Assange and the email was a joke.
“I never dined with Assange,” he told The Journal. The email “doesn’t have any significance because I provably didn’t go … there was no such meeting. It’s not what you say, it’s what you do. This was said in jest.”
He added that a meeting between him and Assange would have been impossible, since he was thousands of miles away from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where Assange had been holed up since 2012.
Stone said that the night before he sent the email he had been flying out of Los Angeles to Miami, and he produced screenshots of a ticket with the name “Roger” on it for The Journal as proof.
But Stone has repeatedly claimed to have known about WikiLeaks’ information dumps and said he had a back channel of communication with Assange, according to CNN.
WikiLeaks for its part has also denied the claim both publicly and privately, and had tweeted previously that the two had “never communicated.”
In Twitter messages obtained by The Intercept in February, Assange told a small group of supporters on a private Twitter channel that Stone wasn’t telling the truth.
“Stone is a bulls—-er,” the WikiLeaks founder said. “Trying to a) imply that he knows anything b) that he contributed to our hard work.”
‘Dirt’ on Hillary Clinton
WikiLeaks’ involvement in the 2016 presidential election centres on how much the organisation communicated with the Russian government, which the US Justice Department has determined was behind the DNC hack, and the Trump campaign.
In May 2016, former foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign George Papadopoulos drunkenly divulged to an Australian ambassador that Russia had damaging information about 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton – two months before it was published by WikiLeaks.
On June 9, 2016, the Trump campaign was offered “dirt” on Clinton ahead of the the now infamous Trump Tower meeting between Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya and several campaign officials including Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. and then campaign manager Paul Manafort.