Roger Stone guilty of wit­ness tam­per­ing, ly­ing to Congress

The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By Michael Bal­samo and Ashraf Khalil

WASH­ING­TON >> Roger Stone, a long­time friend and ally of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, was found guilty Fri­day of wit­ness tam­per­ing and ly­ing to Congress about his pur­suit of Rus­sian-hacked emails dam­ag­ing to Hil­lary Clin­ton’s 2016 elec­tion bid.

Stone was con­victed of all seven counts in a fed­eral in­dict­ment that ac­cused him of ly­ing to Congress,

tam­per­ing with a wit­ness and ob­struct­ing the House in­ves­ti­ga­tion into whether the Trump cam­paign co­or­di­nated with Rus­sia to tip the 2016 elec­tion. He is the sixth Trump aide or ad­viser to be con­victed of charges brought as part of spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller’s Rus­sia in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Stone has de­nied wrong­do­ing and con­sis­tently crit­i­cized the case against him as po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated. He did not take the stand dur­ing the trial and his lawyers did not call any wit­nesses in his de­fense.

Stone, 67, showed no vis­i­ble re­ac­tion as the ver­dict was read aloud, count by count. He’s sched­uled to be sen­tenced on Feb. 6. He could face up to 20 years. An­other for­mer Trump cam­paign aide, Michael Ca­puto, was re­moved by the court­room by se­cu­rity of­fi­cers af­ter he turned his back on the jury af­ter the ver­dict was read.

Stone smirked at re­porters as he left the court

room, hold­ing hands with his wife. As he walked out of the court­house, Stone was asked if he had any com­ment on the ver­dict and replied: “none what­so­ever” be­fore he hopped into a wait­ing SUV with his wife.

Trump tweeted min­utes af­ter the ver­dict, call­ing the con­vic­tion “a dou­ble stan­dard like never seen be­fore in the his­tory of our Coun­try,” be­cause his fre­quent neme­ses, in­clud­ing Hil­lary Clin­ton, for­mer FBI Di­rec­tor James Comey and “in­clud­ing even Mueller him­self,” have not been con­victed. “Didn’t they lie?”

In a trial that lasted about a week, wit­nesses high­lighted how Trump cam­paign as­so­ciates were ea­ger to gather in­for­ma­tion about emails the U.S. says were hacked by Rus­sia and then pro­vided to the an­ti­se­crecy web­site Wik­iLeaks.

Steve Bannon, who served as the cam­paign’s chief ex­ec­u­tive, tes­ti­fied dur­ing the trial the trial that Stone had boasted about his ties to Wik­iLeaks and its founder Ju­lian As­sange, alert­ing them to pend­ing new batches of dam­ag­ing emails. Cam­paign of­fi­cials saw Stone as the “ac­cess point” to Wik­iLeaks, he said.

Af­ter the ver­dict was read, pros­e­cu­tors asked for Stone to be jailed as he awaits sen­tenc­ing, ar­gu­ing that he may have vi­o­lated a judge’s or­der that pro­hibits him from com­mu­ni­cat­ing with the me­dia about his case. But Judge Amy Ber­man Jack­son re­jected that re­quest and said Stone will be sub­ject to same con­di­tions he faced fol­low­ing his ar­rest, in­clud­ing the gag or­der.

Through­out the trial, pros­e­cu­tors used Stone’s own text mes­sages and emails — some of which ap­peared to con­tra­dict his con­gres­sional tes­ti­mony — to lay out their case that he lied to Congress and threat­ened a wit­ness. Stone did not tes­tify, and his lawyers called no wit­nesses in his de­fense.

On Tues­day, a top Trump cam­paign of­fi­cial, Rick Gates, who was a key co­op­er­a­tor in the Mueller probe, tes­ti­fied that that Stone tried to con­tact Jared Kush­ner, Trump’s son-in-law, to “de­brief” him about de­vel­op­ments on the hacked emails.

Pros­e­cu­tors al­leged Stone lied to Congress about his con­ver­sa­tions about Wik­iLeaks with New York ra­dio host and co­me­dian Randy Credico — who scored an in­ter­view with Wik­iLeaks founder Ju­lian As­sange in 2016, when he was avoid­ing prose­cu­tion by shel­ter­ing in the Ecuado­ran em­bassy in Lon­don — and con­ser­va­tive writer and con­spir­acy the­o­rist Jerome Corsi.

Dur­ing the 2016 cam­paign, Stone had men­tioned in in­ter­views and pub­lic ap­pear­ances that he was in con­tact with As­sange through a trusted in­ter­me­di­ary and hinted at in­side knowl­edge of Wik­iLeaks’ plans. But he started press­ing Credico to bro­ker a con­tact, and Credico tes­ti­fied that he told Stone to work through his own in­ter­me­di­ary.

Ear­lier tes­ti­mony re­vealed that Stone, while ap­pear­ing be­fore the House In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee, named Credico as his in­ter­me­di­ary to As­sange and pres­sured Credico not to con­tra­dict him.

Af­ter Credico was con­tacted by Congress, he reached out to Stone, who told him he should “stonewall it” and “plead the fifth,” he tes­ti­fied. Credico also tes­ti­fied dur­ing Stone’s trial that Stone re­peat­edly told him to “do a ‘Frank Pen­tan­geli,’” a ref­er­ence to a char­ac­ter in “The God­fa­ther: Part II” who lies be­fore Congress.

MANUEL BALCE CENETA — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS FILE

In this file photo, Roger Stone, a long­time Repub­li­can provo­ca­teur and for­mer con­fi­dant of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, waits in line at the fed­eral court in Wash­ing­ton.

JULIO CORTEZ — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Roger Stone, left, with his wife, Ny­dia Stone, leaves fed­eral court in Wash­ing­ton, Fri­day. Stone, a long­time friend of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, has been found guilty at his trial in fed­eral court in Wash­ing­ton.

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