President Donald Trump’s long-time confidant Roger Stone has been charged with seven criminal counts related to impeding Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election, including lying to and obstructing Congress and witness tampering. These details were disclosed in an indictment filed by the Special Counsel’s office that was unsealed on Friday morning.
Perhaps the most significant detail obtained from the indictment, is that a senior Trump campaign official “was directed” to contact Stone about the release of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta’s emails, which were hacked by Russian operatives and put online by Wikileaks. (Podesta is a founder of the Center for American Progress. ThinkProgress is an editorially independent news organization housed within the Center for American Progress Action Fund.)
The name of the senior campaign official is not disclosed in the indictment. However, as Talking Points Memo’s Allegra Kirkland and Josh Kovensky note, “Emails released by the New York Times in 2018 between Stone and Trump campaign chairman Stephen K. Bannon appear to suggest that Bannon is the unnamed ‘high-ranking’ campaign official.”
Stone has admitted to communicating with “Guccifer 2.0,” the nom de guerre of a Russian intelligence officer within the GRU, that nation’s military intelligence division. Stone had also predicted “trouble” ahead for Podesta and the Clinton campaign even before the hacked emails were disseminated, and bragged about his ongoing communications with WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange.
Today’s unsealed indictment moves Mueller’s investigation into potential Trump campaign collusion with Russia closer into the president’s inner circle. It is unclear from the indictments whether anyone in the campaign, including the unnamed “high-ranking Trump campaign official,” was aware that the email haul had been pilfered by Russian intelligence agents at the time of their communications with WikiLeaks and Assange.
Stone has officially been indicted on seven counts, including one count of obstruction of an official proceeding, five counts of making false statements, and one count of witness tampering, according to the indictment. CNN released footage of FBI agents, currently working without pay during the partial government shutdown, arresting Stone at his home on Friday morning.
Stone allegedly made false statements to the House Intelligence Committee about his communication with WikiLeaks and about his possession of records that showed those interactions. Among them, Stone allegedly lied that conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi had tipped him off about the release of the hacked emails. He also told the committee that comedian Randy Credico had served as his “go-between” with WikiLeaks, and then pressured Credico to back up this false account.
Neither Corsi nor Credico were named in the indictment.
As ThinkProgress previously reported, WikiLeaks’ tranche of released emails were a feature of Trump’s “closing argument” during the 2016 election. He mentioned the emails on at least 164 occasions in the final month of the campaign.
During a July 2016 campaign event, Trump had invoked Russia when referring to missing Clinton emails: “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing… I think you will be probably rewarded mightily by our press.” Mueller filings later showed that Russians attempted to hack into Clinton’s servers on that same day.
This is a breaking news story and shall be updated as news becomes available.