About a month before the 2016 presidential election, President Trump's campaign chairman Stephen Bannon, and longtime GOP operative Roger Stone, exchanged messages about WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and what kinds of hacked documents his website planned on releasing ahead of Election Day, The New York Times reports. Stone quickly posted the email exchange at The Daily Caller. Their early October emails had not been previously reported.
On Oct. 4, Bannon emailed Stone and asked him what Assange was planning. "A load every week going forward," Stone responded. People familiar with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election told the Times that Bannon and two other former senior Trump campaign officials have told Mueller's team that Stone came across as someone with inside information on the WikiLeaks playbook, at least in regard to targeting Hillary Clinton.
One former official told investigators that Stone was able to predict what WikiLeaks would do, later taking credit for the timing of disclosures, the Times reports. Mueller's team is trying to determine if Stone had strong ties to WikiLeaks, or just wanted people to think he did. Investigators have interviewed friends and business associates, asking about Stone's connection to WikiLeaks and if he urged anyone not to cooperate with the probe, the Times reports. On Wednesday, Stone told the Times he was able to "posture, bluff, hype" based on what he read on the WikiLeaks Twitter feed and tips he received. Read more about Stone, his evolving statements, and why people believe he was in cahoots with WikiLeaks at The New York Times. Catherine Garcia