President Trump's former adviser Stephen Bannon testified Friday that Roger Stone, a longtime Trump adviser, was the "access point" between the 2016 Trump presidential campaign and WikiLeaks, which unveiled a slew of stolen emails damaging to Trump's opponent Hillary Clinton in the lead up to the election. Stone is facing charges of lying to the House Intelligence Committee, obstruction, and witness tampering over his connections to WikiLeaks.
Bannon also said he believed Stone "had a relationship" with the website's founder, Julian Assange, and that he and Stone discussed WikiLeaks on several occasions even though Stone told the Intelligence Committee under a sworn statement that he never discussed Assange or WikiLeaks with any members of Trump's campaign. In cross-examination from Stone's lawyer, however, Bannon did testify that he was not aware of Trump's campaign formally asking Stone to communicate with Assange about the emails.
Bannon, who said he valued Stone for his propensity for opposition research and "dirty tricks," made it clear that he was only testifying because he was compelled by a subpoena, although he reportedly answered questions from the prosecution without argument. Read more at The Hill and Reuters. Tim O'Donnell
Federal prosecutors said in court Wednesday that Steve Bannon, President Trump's former campaign chairman and White House chief strategist, will testify against longtime Trump political adviser Roger Stone in his trial. Stone is being charged with lying to Congress, obstructing justice, and witness tampering in a case stemming from former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation. Stone pleaded not guilty.
Bannon is expected to testify about his and Stone's communications regarding WikiLeaks and its distribution of Democratic emails and other documents hacked by Russian operatives. The prosecutors are signaling that Bannon is "going to be a key witness in this case," and his testimony will be "super critical" to their case, CNN's Shimon Prokupecz said Wednesday evening.
Bannon is not a voluntary witness, a person with direct knowledge of the matter told CNBC, but he his being compelled to testify after he and his legal team tried to fend off numerous subpoenas. Prosecutors also said they will bring in Rick Gates, a Trump campaign vice chairman and presidential transition official, to testify against Stone. Gates was a cooperating witness in the Mueller investigation. Peter Weber
President Trump's longtime adviser Roger Stone has pleaded not guilty to all charges levied against him by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
Stone was arrested Friday on seven counts, including obstruction of an official proceeding, witness tampering, and making false statements. He was quickly released on bail and he and his lawyer pledged to fight the charges. Stone followed up on that promise Tuesday, pleading not guilty through his lawyer to charges that could land him with up to 20 years in prison, per BuzzFeed News.
The indictment, which comes via Mueller's probe into the Trump campaign's possible involvement with Russian election interference, says Stone lied to Congress about his connections with Wikileaks. The site posted stolen emails from the Democratic National Committee, and the indictment suggests Stone knew about the release in advance. It also alleges Stone tried to block a potential witness from cooperating with investigators, resulting in the most serious charge of witness tampering.
Stone has called the charges a "politically motivated attack" and said he will "not testify against the president." Still, Trump's lawyers are reportedly worried Stone will flip. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has since maintained that Stone's charges have "nothing to do with the president," but would not rule out a presidential pardon for Stone in a Monday press conference. Kathryn Krawczyk