In the opening day of the trial of Trump adviser Roger Stone, prosecutors said texts, emails and phone calls will show that Stone was in touch with President Trump on the day the Democratic National Committee (DNC) was hacked by Russian operatives.
The prosecution also said Stone attempted to procure emails stolen from Democrats and eventually published by WikiLeaks and lied to Congress, while Trump may have lied in his written responses to questions from former Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller.
“The evidence in this case will show that Roger Stone lied to the House Intelligence Committee because the truth looked bad,” prosecutor Aaron Zelinsky said in his opening statement in federal court in Washington Wednesday. “The truth looked bad for the Trump campaign and the truth looked bad for Donald Trump.”
Stone’s defense is that he did not associate WikiLeaks with Russia.
“This was a Russian investigation, and the fact that it was a Russian investigation colored all his answers,” his attorney Bruce Rogow said in court Wednesday. “Its publicly stated scope was about what Russia was doing — not about what WikiLeaks was doing.”
Stone is charged on multiple counts, including lying to Congress, about his efforts to work with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to get dirt on Trump rival Hillary Clinton, and intimidating a witness.
Stone, who publicly claimed that he was in contact with
WikiLeaks and Guccifer 2.0, a persona fronting Russian military intelligence
hackers, eventually backtracked and said his claims were untrue boasting.
But former White House adviser Steve Bannon, who will testify
on behalf of the prosecution, is expected to say that he and Stone discussed
WikiLeaks repeatedly throughout the summer of 2016.
In written responses to Mueller, which the special counsel
later called “inadequate,” Trump, who has bragged about his stellar memory,
said, “I do
not recall being told during the campaign that Roger Stone or anyone associated
with my campaign had discussions with any of the entities named in the question
regarding the content or timing of release of hacked emails. I do not recall
discussing WikiLeaks with [Roger Stone], nor do I recall being aware of Mr.
Stone having discussed WikiLeaks with individuals associated with my campaign.”
But a highly publicized 2017 intelligence community (IC) assessment
of Russian interference in the 2016 election repeatedly made the link between
Russia and WikiLeaks. “Moscow most
likely chose WikiLeaks because of its self-proclaimed reputation for
authenticity,” the report said.