In­dict­ment links Trump cam­paign, email leaks

The Tribune (SLO) - - Insight - BY MARK MAZZETTI, EILEEN SUL­LI­VAN AND MAG­GIE HABER­MAN

WASH­ING­TON

The spe­cial coun­sel, Robert Mueller, re­vealed on Fri­day the most di­rect link yet be­tween the Trump cam­paign’s and Wik­iLeaks’ par­al­lel ef­forts to use Demo­cratic Party ma­te­rial stolen by Rus­sians to dam­age the cam­paign of Hil­lary Clin­ton.

In an in­dict­ment un­sealed on Fri­day, the spe- cial coun­sel dis­closed ev­i­dence that a top cam­paign of­fi­cial in 2016 dis­patched Roger J. Stone, a long­time ad­viser to Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, to get in­for­ma­tion from Wik­iLeaks about the thou­sands of hacked Demo­cratic emails. The ef­fort be­gan well af­ter it was widely re­ported that Rus­sian in­tel­li­gence op­er­a­tives were be­hind the theft, which was part of Moscow’s broad cam­paign to sab­o­tage the 2016 pres­i­dent elec­tion.

The in­dict­ment makes no men­tion of whether Trump played a role in the coordination, though Mueller did leave a cu­ri­ous clue about how high in the cam­paign the ef­fort reached: A se­nior cam­paign of­fi­cial “was di­rected” by an un­named per­son to con­tact Stone about ad­di­tional Wik­iLeaks re­leases that might dam­age the Clin­ton cam­paign, ac­cord­ing to the court doc­u­ment.

Stone was charged with seven counts, in­clud­ing ob­struc­tion of an of­fi­cial pro­ceed­ing, mak­ing false state­ments and wit­ness tam­per­ing. Mueller did not say that Stone’s in­ter­ac­tions with Wik­iLeaks were il­le­gal, nor that the Trump cam­paign en­gaged in a crim­i­nal con­spir­acy with the or­ga­ni­za­tion.

FBI agents ar­rested Stone be­fore dawn, ap­pear­ing at his Fort Laud­erdale, Flor­ida, home with bal­lis­tic vests and guns drawn. Agents typ­i­cally use those tac­tics as a pre­cau­tion to se­cure pos­si­ble ev­i­dence and pro­tect them­selves in case a sus­pect fights ar­rest. Pros­e­cu­tors sealed de­tails of the case be­cause they feared that pub­lic dis­clo­sure would in­crease the risk of Stone flee­ing or de­stroy­ing or tam­per­ing with ev­i­dence, ac­cord­ing to court doc­u­ments.

FBI agents were also seen cart­ing hard drives and other ev­i­dence from Stone’s apart­ment in New York City, and his record­ing stu­dio in South Flor­ida was also raided.

Stone ap­peared briefly in U.S. Dis­trict Court in Fort Laud­erdale on Fri­day morn­ing, his an­kles and waist shack­led in front of a packed court­room. Stone, known for his dap­per wardrobe, was dressed sim­ply in a navy blue cot­ton polo shirt, blue­jeans and his trade­mark round, black-rimmed glasses, his de­meanor flat.

He posted a $250,000 bond, was or­dered to sur­ren­der his pass­port and agreed to ap­pear in fed­eral court in Wash­ing­ton later. Af­ter­ward, out­side the court­house, Stone vowed to beat the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, which he called po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated.

“There is no cir­cum­stance what­so­ever un­der which I will bear false wit­ness against the pres­i­dent nor will I make up lies to ease the pres­sure on my­self,” he told re­porters af­ter­ward.

In a brief in­ter­view later Fri­day, Stone said he will plead not guilty.

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