Jurors in Roger Stone’s criminal trial heard a recording of the Republican operative testifying to a congressional committee that he told no one on President Trump’s 2016 campaign about his communications with WikiLeaks.
Then they heard evidence that Stone had almost 60 conversations with top campaign officials, as well as with Trump himself — plus a fusillade of obscenities as Stone’s threats to an ally were read out to the court.
Stone, 67, is charged with lying to Congress, obstructing its probe into Russian interference in the presidential election, and witness tampering. On Thursday, the first full day of testimony in federal court in Washington, prosecutors played excerpts of Stone’s more than 2 1/2 hours of testimony before the House Intelligence Committee in 2017. It included a Sept. 26 exchange in which Stone was asked if he spoke to campaign officials about WikiLeaks.
“I did not,” he said.
Prosecutor Jonathan Kravis immediately asked a witness, former FBI agent Michelle Taylor, how many conversations Stone had with the Trump campaign as WikiLeaks was releasing tens of thousands of documents stolen from Democratic Party computers to damage the campaign of Trump’s rival, Hillary Clinton. Taylor had worked for Special Counsel Robert Mueller in his probe of Russia’s meddling.
Using a chart to illustrate her testimony, Taylor identified 25 calls with Trump’s 2016 campaign chairman, Paul Manafort; 28 with Manafort’s top deputy, Rick Gates; two with campaign chief executive officer Steve Bannon; and two with Trump.
US District Judge Amy Berman Jackson noted that the chart showed only the existence of the calls, not their content. Defense attorney Bruce Rogow compelled Taylor to reiterate that point when he cross-examined her.
Rogow argued on Wednesday that Stone believed he had been truthful and responsive to Congress, given what he understood as the scope of the committee’s inquiry: probing Russian interference in the election and any involvement by people tied to the campaign.
Bannon and Gates are expected to testify for the government. Jurors will also hear from comedian and New York radio personality Randy Credico, who Stone told the committee was his back channel to WikiLeaks — and whom Stone alternately cajoled, berated, and threatened not to contradict his testimony when he was called before the intelligence panel, according to Stone’s indictment.
As messages from Stone were read out, the jury heard him mocking Credico as drinking excessively, warning he’d legally “rip you to shreds” and threatening to snatch his dog. In one message, he told Credico to “prepare to die,” adding an explosive obscenity. When Credico ultimately received a subpoena to appear before Mueller’s grand jury, Stone called it “a complete waste of time.”
Credico appeared, asserting his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination.