Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team has spent the past few weeks looking into whether longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone was in communication with WikiLeaks and therefore had advance knowledge of the online group’s plans to release hacked Democratic emails in 2016.
People familiar with the investigation say that Mueller’s investigators have been pursuing leads about whether Stone communicated with WikiLeaks, whose disclosures of emails believed to have been hacked by Russian operatives, disrupted the 2016 presidential campaign. To do so, the Washington Post writes, a grand jury in Washington has listened to more than a dozen hours of testimony while FBI technicians have pored over gigabytes of electronic messages.
During the presidential race, Stone boasted that he was in touch with the founder of WikiLeaks Julian Assange. However, now he says his remarks have been exaggerated, denying the reports. Prosecutors are nonetheless looking into the comments he had made both privately and publicly about being able to reach Assange.
A person familiar with the matter claimed Stone had confided to Randy Credico in 2016 that he had a secret back channel to the WikiLeaks founder. Stone, on the other hand, has said his only connection to Assange was through his onetime friend Credico.
Mueller’s investigators have likewise examined Stone’s relationship with conservative journalist and conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi and whether he may have been Stone’s connection to the group. People familiar with the special counsel’s investigation have also said Mueller’s prosecutors have scrutinized Stone’s communications with Trump campaign officials about WikiLeaks.
They further noted investigators are particularly interested in whether Stone lied to Congress about his alleged contacts with WikiLeaks during the presidential race. The special counsel filed charges in July, saying that Russian military intelligence officers used an online persona called Guccifer 2.0 to distribute hacked Democratic emails through WikiLeaks as well as to send messages to Stone.
Stone has since then rejected the allegations, saying that the investigation is illegitimate and aimed at forcing him to turn on President Donald Trump.
“The special counsel pokes into every aspect of my social, family, personal, business and political life, seeking something — anything — he can use to pressure me, to silence me and to try to induce me to testify against my friend Donald Trump,” he recently said, adding that he would never turn on the President.