- Roger Stone pleaded not guilty to seven counts of obstruction, false statements, and witness tampering.
- Stone has struck a defiant tone since being arrested and charged last week, accusing the special counsel Robert Mueller of being a “rogue prosecutor who has more power than the president” and telling reporters he would not testify against President Donald Trump.
- He has also ramped up calls for donations to his legal defence fund.
- Stone is at the center of Mueller’s investigation into whether the Trump campaign had advance knowledge of WikiLeaks’ plans to publish Democratic emails that had been stolen by Russian hackers during the election.
- Prosecutors are also interested in learning whether Stone served as a bridge between the Trump campaign, WikiLeaks, and Russia during the election.
The longtime GOP strategist Roger Stone entered a plea of not guilty in federal court Tuesday in response to seven felony charges of obstruction, false statements, and witness tampering.
The charges stem from the special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 US election. Stone was indicted by a grand jury last week and arrested Friday.
Stone appeared before US Magistrate Deborah Robinson in Washington, DC amid chants of “lock him up!” from protesters and supportive calls from other onlookers.
The charging document contains a slew of intricate details about Stone’s alleged false statements to Congress about his interactions involving WikiLeaks; his extensive communications with the far-right commentator Jerome Corsi and radio host Randy Credico about WikiLeaks’ document dumps in summer 2016; and his prolonged efforts to prevent Credico from testifying to Congress or turning over information to the FBI.
In typical fashion, Stone struck a defiant tone after being arrested Friday, telling reporters that he would not plead guilty or testify against President Donald Trump.
“This country is literally run by a rogue prosecutor who has more power than the president,” he added in a statement relayed by his lawyer to his colleagues at the far-right conspiracy website InfoWars.
Stone has also taken to Instagram in recent days calling for supporters to donate to his legal defence fund, using the hashtag #RogerStoneDidNothingWrong and suggesting that he is the target of a fishing expedition by Mueller’s team.
On Sunday, Stone indicated he has not ruled out cooperating with some parts of the investigation.
“If there’s wrongdoing by other people in the campaign that I know about – which I know of none – but if there is, I would testify honestly,” Stone said on ABC’s “This Week.”
“I would also testify honestly about any other matter, including any communications with the president,” he said. “It’s true that we spoke on the phone, but those communications are political in nature.”
Mueller scrutinised the many late-night phone calls between Trump and Stone that took place during the 2016 campaign season. The calls drew prosecutors’ attention as they investigated whether Stone or anyone else served as a conduit between Trump and WikiLeaks during the election. Stone has said he never spoke with Trump about WikiLeaks or its founder, Julian Assange.
Stone’s links to WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange, are well-known. He exchanged Twitter direct messages with the Russian hacker Guccifer 2.0, who helped WikiLeaks disseminate the stolen Democratic emails. Stone is also known to have exchanged direct messages with WikiLeaks’ main account on Twitter in October 2016.
And he was corresponding throughout the summer with Corsi and Credico about obtaining the hacked emails from WikiLeaks that had not yet been published online.
In one email, dated August 2, Corsi told Stone he was in Europe and planned to return in or around mid-August. He wrote, “Word is friend in embassy,” a reference to Assange, “plans 2 more dumps. One shortly after I’m back. 2nd in Oct. Impact planned to be very damaging.”
Corsi added in the same email, “Time to let more than [the Clinton Campaign chairman] to be exposed as in bed w 5 enemy if they are not ready to drop HRC. That appears to be the game hackers are now about. Would not hurt to start suggesting HRC old, memory bad, has stroke – neither he nor she well. I expect that much of next dump focus, setting stage for Foundation debacle.”
Stone spoke with Trump over the phone later that same day. It’s unclear what their conversation was about.
In the days after, Trump began suggesting Clinton was not well.
On August 17, he said Clinton’s speeches on the campaign trail “don’t last long” and that she should “go home and go to sleep.”
Shortly before that appearance, Trump said Clinton lacked the “mental and physical stamina” to fight the Islamic State.
Trump has denied that his campaign had any connection to or advance knowledge of WikiLeaks’ plans.
But in their charging document against Stone, prosecutors wrote that someone directed a senior Trump campaign official to maintain a channel of communication with Stone about WikiLeaks. The identity of the senior official and who directed them has not been made public.
Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. is also known to have been in contact with WikiLeaks during the election.