Get me Roger Stone! Guilty on all counts (Updated)

0
698

I have waited most of my adult life for this moment of justice: GOP ratfucker Roger Stone has been convicted and is going to prison. It’s about damn time! He has been allowed to get away with criminal behavior for years and avoid being held accountable through his connections. (There is still a risk that his pal Donald Trump will commute his sentence or pardon him, allowing him to escape justice once again).

Politico reports, Roger Stone found guilty of lying to Congress, witness tampering:

Roger Stone has been found guilty on all charges in a case accusing the longtime Donald Trump adviser of seeking to thwart a House investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

After a trial that spanned just over a week, a federal court jury in Washington, D.C., convicted Stone on five felony counts of lying to investigators, one count of obstructing a congressional probe and one count of witness tampering.

The charges against Stone were brought by Robert Mueller and handed off to career federal prosecutors in Washington after the special counsel’s Russia probe ended this spring.

The guilty verdicts represent the biggest victory for prosecutors in a Mueller-brought case since former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was convicted on eight felony charges at a trial in northern Virginia over a year ago. In the courtroom for Stone’s trial, there were ample signs of the case’s origins.

Two of the prosecutors, Aaron Zelinsky and Adam Jed, previously served on Mueller’s staff. Several Mueller team veterans seemed keenly interested in the case, popping up in the courtroom gallery as spectators during opening and closing statements.

* * *

At times, Stone’s defense seemed less like a viable legal strategy and more like an effort to improve his chances of a pardon by not giving an inch to the Mueller-linked prosecutors and Trump’s critics.

Trump’s media boosters have been stumping for a pardon in recent days. On Fox News, Tucker Carlson recently encouraged Trump to pardon Stone, a plea that has echoed around the far-right mediasphere. The White House official predicted that Trump would be unlikely to offer any relief for Stone until after the 2020 election to avoid any potential political damage from such a move.

Stone’s fate now rests in part with Trump, who has the power to issue an election-season pardon or commutation to spare one of his longest-running political advisers any jail time.

* * *

Donald Trump told Mueller’s investigators [he and Stone] spoke from “time to time during the campaign.” Prosecutors introduced evidence collected from phone records during Stone’s trial showing about 60 separate communications between the two men between February and November 2016.

In the Stone trial, prosecutors were unabashed about linking the defendant’s actions — both in 2016 and after — to Trump and the Trump campaign. Prosecutors even invoked Trump’s name dozens of times during the trial, an act Trump might view as insubordinate.

Stone’s trial produced several notable revelations about Trump’s campaign and WikiLeaks.

Many of the disclosures came from Rick Gates, the former Trump deputy campaign chairman who testified that he discussed forthcoming WikiLeaks disclosures with Stone in April 2016, earlier than the timeline laid out in the public portions of the Mueller report.

Gates also recounted Stone’s request in June for Jared Kushner’s contact information so he could “debrief” the Trump son-in-law about WikiLeaks. And he detailed a July strategy meeting to go over a WikiLeaks response plan with campaign CEO Paul Manafort and senior aides Jason Miller and Stephen Miller.

Trump also got pulled into the mix. In a late July telephone conversation, the GOP nominee spoke to Stone about WikiLeaks. Gates, who pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy and false statement charges brought by Mueller, said he overheard Trump talking with Stone. After the phone call, Gates testified that Trump predicted more WikiLeaks releases.

“He indicated that more information would be coming out,” Gates said.

That was one of three conversations prosecutors raised involving Stone and Trump where the topic appeared to center around WikiLeaks, highlighting an apparent contradiction in the president’s written response to Mueller on the same topic.

“I do not recall discussing WikiLeaks with [Stone], nor do I recall being aware of Mr. Stone having discussed WikiLeaks with individuals associated with my campaign,” Trump wrote the special counsel’s office.

The Stone trial raised several questions regarding the sufficiency of Robert Mueller’s investigation and the charging choices he made.

Former CEO of the Trump campaign and White House advisor Steve Bannon Testified Trump Team Saw Roger Stone as “Access Point” to Assange:

Donald Trump and members of his campaign have said many times that they never colluded with Russia in 2016. But according to bombshell testimony in federal court, the Trump team did believe that it was collaborating with WikiLeaks, the organization that publicly disseminated Democratic emails that had been stolen by Russian government hackers.

* * *

Steve Bannon, who became CEO of the campaign in mid-August 2016, testified Friday that campaign officials saw Stone as their “access point” to WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange.

Bannon testified that in the spring and summer of 2016, before he took over the Trump campaign, Stone had “implied” in conversations with Bannon that he was in contact with Assange. “The campaign had no official access to WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, but Roger would be considered if we needed an access point, because he had implied or told me he had a relationship with WikiLeaks and Julian Assange,” Bannon said.

“It was generally believed that the access point to WikiLeaks or Julian Assange would be Roger Stone,” Bannon said in prior grand jury testimony read in court on Friday. Bannon appeared under subpoena and said he would not have agreed to testify otherwise.

On October 3, 2016, when Assange held a strange press conference that failed to live up to expectations of dramatic revelations about Hillary Clinton, Bannon emailed Stone to ask: “What was that?”

Four days later, when WikiLeaks began publishing emails hacked from Clinton campaign chair John Podesta, Bannon, according to his testimony, “heard that Roger Stone was somehow involved in the release of those emails.” Bannon said he didn’t recall where he heard that.

Shortly after WikiLeaks released the emails, Alexandra Preate, a Trump campaign aide who worked for Bannon, texted Stone a two-word message: “well done,” according to evidence presented earlier in the trial.

Bannon’s testimony is bad news for Stone, who faces charges that he lied about several topics in 2017 testimony before the House Intelligence Committee. One of those alleged lies was Stone’s claim that he did not communicate with the Trump campaign regarding information Stone claimed to have about WikiLeaks. Bannon’s testimony bolster[ed] the government’s case that Stone committed perjury.

But the testimony was also terrible news for Trump. Previously, prosecutors revealed that Stone and Trump spoke frequently during the 2016 campaign. Those include calls on June 14, 2016, the same day the Washington Posreported that the DNC had been hacked by Russia. On July 31, 2016—not long after WikiLeaks released thousands of DNC emails and documents stolen by the Russians, Stone spoke for about 10 minutes with Trump. Prosecutors don’t know what the men discussed in either call, but they implied that they believe the topic was the hacked emails.

In written answers to special counsel Robert Mueller, Trump stated, “I do not recall discussing WikiLeaks with [Stone], nor do I recall being aware of Mr. Stone having discussed WikiLeaks with individuals associated with my campaign.” Trump may have avoid perjury by claiming a memory lapse, but the Stone case is making it hard to avoid concluding that Trump probably told a whopper to Mueller.

Prosecutors have also detailed contacts related to WikiLeaks between Stone and former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort and Blackwater founder Erik Prince, a Trump campaign adviser. Stone now denies that he really had any inside information on WikiLeaks, and there’s no evidence he communicated directly with Assange. But multiple members of the Trump campaign apparently thought he was working with WikiLeaks to advance their cause. That sounds like attempted collusion.

Former White House aid and Paul Manafort’s associate Rick Gates testified, Trump Predicted More Leaks Amid WikiLeaks Releases in 2016, Ex-Aide Testifies:

Days after the rogue website WikiLeaks posted a trove of stolen Democratic Party emails during the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald J. Trump talked by phone with Roger J. Stone Jr., a longtime friend who claimed to have connections to WikiLeaks, then told a top aide that “more information would be coming,” the aide testified in Mr. Stone’s criminal trial on Tuesday.

The aide, Rick Gates, said he did not hear the substance of the July 31, 2016, call. Nor did he say that Mr. Trump mentioned WikiLeaks, the organization that had received tens of thousands of emails stolen by Russian operatives seeking to sabotage the campaign of his opponent, Hillary Clinton.

But the context of the exchange suggests that Mr. Stone briefed Mr. Trump on whatever he had picked up about the website’s plans. In written answers that President Trump supplied during the special counsel’s investigation of Russian influence in the campaign, he said he did not recall the specifics of any of his 21 phone calls with Mr. Stone in the six months before the election. He also said he did not recall knowing that his campaign advisers were in touch with Mr. Stone about WikiLeaks.

Mr. Gates’s testimony revealed other new details about the Trump campaign’s intense interest in how WikiLeaks might disrupt Mrs. Clinton’s campaign. Much of what he said in court was covered in the 448-page report by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, but it was blacked out in the version released publicly last spring to protect grand jury secrecy or open cases, a person familiar with the report said.

In conversations with the Trump campaign as early as April 2016, Mr. Gates said, Mr. Stone had predicted releases of Democratic documents that would prove helpful to Mr. Trump. That was roughly three months before WikiLeaks released its first tranche of stolen emails, throwing the Clinton campaign on the defensive on the eve of the Democratic National Convention.

* * *

Mr. Stone, a former Trump campaign aide and 40-year friend of the president’s, repeatedly told top campaign officials that he was privy to inside information from WikiLeaks through his connections with Julian Assange, the organization’s founder. He now says that he was only boasting and had access to only public sources of information.

Phone records introduced into evidence in Mr. Stone’s trial suggest that he kept in close touch with Mr. Trump and his top campaign aides. From March to November 2016, the records show, Mr. Stone had 39 calls with Mr. Trump, 126 calls with Mr. Gates and 153 calls with Paul Manafort, who was forced to resign as campaign chairman that August but continued to informally advise the campaign.

In the final three months of the race, Mr. Stone tried to dispatch two intermediaries to get either stolen emails or information from Mr. Assange. Both of them have testified under oath that they were unsuccessful.

* * *

Prosecutors claim that Mr. Stone lied because the truth about his efforts to reach WikiLeaks would have embarrassed Mr. Trump and his campaign.

* * *

Mr. Gates, who served as Mr. Trump’s deputy campaign chairman, has been a prominent witness in a series of criminal prosecutions by Mr. Mueller’s team against Mr. Trump’s former aides. After pleading guilty to conspiracy and lying to federal investigators in early 2018, he testified about financial crimes he committed with Mr. Manafort, who was convicted and is now serving a seven-and-a-half-year prison term.

Mr. Gates, who may be sentenced next month, is hoping that his cooperation with federal prosecutors will spare him a prison term, leaving him instead on probation. Over all, he said, federal investigators or prosecutors have interviewed him about 40 or 50 times.

This trial calls into question Robert Mueller’s conclusions that he did not find enough evidence to prove a conspiracy (collusion) between the Trump campaign and Russia and Wikileaks (a non-state hostile intelligence service aligned with Russia). It’s true that witnesses such as Paul Manafort and Roger Stone did not cooperate with Mueller’s investigators and lied to investigators, but the evidence of coordination and collusion presented during the Stone trial suggests that there is more evidence of a conspiracy not yet made public.

Trump’s “Injustice” Department has appealed a judge’s order directing the department to provide the House with secret grand jury testimony and documents from special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. Justice Dept. appeals order on Mueller grand jury testimony.

It is clear that in Donald Trump’s written answers to interrogatories, which are under oath and subject to perjury, he lied about his conversations with Roger Stone and his knowledge of Wikileaks. This supports a charge for perjury. Bill Clinton was impeached for perjury.

UPDATE: Steve Benen reports Following Roger Stone’s conviction, Trump says all the wrong things:

Trump responded to Stone’s conviction in a decidedly Trumpian way.

“So they now convict Roger Stone of lying and want to jail him for many years to come,” the president tweeted. “Well, what about Crooked Hillary, Comey, Strzok, Page, McCabe, Brennan, Clapper, Shifty Schiff, Ohr & Nellie, Steele & all of the others, including even Mueller himself? Didn’t they lie?”

Trump added, “A double standard like never seen before in the history of our Country?”

As regular readers know, the rhetorical tactic is known as “whataboutism.” The Merriam-Webster definition is as good as any: “It is not merely the changing of a subject (‘What about the economy?’) to deflect away from an earlier subject as a political strategy; it’s essentially a reversal of accusation, arguing that an opponent is guilty of an offense just as egregious or worse than what the original party was accused of doing, however unconnected the offenses may be.”

In a New York Times piece a couple of years ago, Masha Gessen described it as an “old Soviet propaganda tool.”

A disloyal traitorous Russian asset.




Leave a Reply