Longtime Trump confidant Roger Stone lied to Congress about his efforts to connect with WikiLeaks in the 2016 presidential campaign because the “truth looked bad for Donald Trump,” a federal prosecutor told jurors Wednesday.
In his opening statement in Stone’s trial on lying and obstruction charges, prosecutor Aaron Zelinsky said the case wasn’t about who hacked the Democratic National Committee, or who communicated with Russians.
“This case is about Roger Stone’s false testimony to the House Intelligence Committee in an attempt to obstruct the investigation and to tamper with evidence,” Zelinsky told the jury in Washington, D.C. federal court.
Stone had claimed he had no records “of any kind” of attempts to reach out to WikiLeaks. In reality, “you will hear that he had hundreds of texts, emails” with two people he was using as intermediaries, Zelinsky said.
Stone also claimed he hadn’t discussed his efforts with the Trump campaign — something that was refuted by his call records and texts and emails, the prosecutor said.
Zelinsky said Stone had called Trump hours after a Washington Post report that Russians had hacked the DNC. They also spoke for 10 minutes after WikiLeaks began posting Democrats’ emails online.
In written answers to questions from former Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Trump said he did not recall any communications with Stone in the six months preceding the 2016 election.
Prosecutors don’t know what was said in either call, but shortly after the second one, Stone emailed one of his intermediaries, Jerome Corsi. Corsi told him, “word is our friend in the embassy” — a reference to WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange — “plans two more dumps.”
According to Zelinsky, Stone emailed Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort the next day with the subject line “I have an idea.” The body of the email read, “To save Trump’s ass,” Zelinsky told the jury. Stone asked Manafort to call him, the prosecutor said.
Weeks later, Zelinsky said Stone sent an email to another campaign honcho, Steve Bannon, which read, “I do know how to win this, but it ain’t pretty.”
Bannon and former Manafort partner Rick Gates will both testify in the case, Zelinsky said.
The prosecutor said Stone pushed another of his intermediaries, Randy Credico, to lie to investigators — and threatened his dog if he didn’t comply.
Zelinsky said Stone lied to Congress and tried to obstruct the investigation because “the truth looked bad for the Trump campaign and the truth looked bad for Donald Trump.”
Stone has pleaded not guilty to the charges. His lawyer’s opening statement is expected later on Wednesday.
He was spotted having lunch on Wednesday afternoon with right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos.
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