'Straight up lied': Prosecutors say adviser Stone fibbed to protect Trump

By Sarah N. Lynch
1 / 11

'Straight up lied': Prosecutors say adviser Stone fibbed to protect Trump

Former Trump campaign adviser Stone departs U.S. District Court in Washington

By Sarah N. Lynch

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Prosecutors pulled back the curtain on Roger Stone's private dealings with President Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign on Wednesday, portraying the president's longtime adviser as a liar who misled Congress about his outreach efforts to the WikiLeaks website to protect Trump from looking bad.

Prosecution and defense lawyers delivered opening statements to the 12-member jury in federal court in Washington, painting dramatically different portraits of the 67-year-old Republican political operative who has been a friend and ally of Trump for four decades.

Stone "straight up lied" to Congress, prosecutor Aaron Zelinsky told the jury, which was selected earlier in the day. Defense lawyer Bruce Rogow countered that Stone never "willfully and intentionally" misled lawmakers.

Stone - a self-described "dirty trickster" and "agent provocateur" - has pleaded not guilty to charges of obstructing justice, witness tampering and lying to the U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee in its investigation into Russia interference in the 2016 election.

"Now you'll ask, why didn't Roger Stone just tell the truth?" Zelinsky asked the jurors. "The evidence in this case will show that Roger Stone lied to the House Intelligence Committee because the truth looked bad. The truth looked bad for the Trump campaign, and the truth looked bad for Donald Trump."

In the months leading up to the election, WikiLeaks disclosed numerous emails - stolen from Democrats by Russian state-backed hackers, according to U.S. intelligence agencies and former Special Counsel Robert Mueller - that proved embarrassing to Trump's Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.

The first witness called by prosecutors was a former FBI agent who presented evidence that Stone was in frequent contact with top Trump campaign officials including strategist Steve Bannon and chairman Paul Manafort about when WikiLeaks might release more emails damaging the Clinton.

Prosecutors noted that Stone, in sworn testimony to the Intelligence Committee, denied that these communications ever occurred.

Stone placed several calls to then-candidate Trump that were timed around significant developments concerning WikiLeaks, though prosecutors acknowledged they do not know the content of those calls.

The Democratic-led Intelligence Committee is currently spearheading the House impeachment inquiry against Trump over his July request that Ukraine investigate a Democratic rival, Joe Biden.

Zelinsky said the prosecution's case rests on five false statements Stone made to the committee related to WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange.

In addition to lying about his communications with Trump campaign figures, Zelinsky said Stone made multiple other false statements including claiming a radio host named Randy Credico was his only intermediary with WikiLeaks when in fact he had a second source in conservative author Jerome Corsi.

In one July 2016 email shown to jurors, Stone told Corsi "get to Assange!" in London and "get the pending WikiLeaks emails."


'THE GODFATHER PART II'

Stone, according to the prosecution, later tried to tamper with Credico's testimony and urged him to "do a 'Frank Pentangeli'" - a reference to a character in the film "The Godfather Part II" who recants his testimony to Congress about a mobster amid witness intimidation.

Credico is due to testify later in the trial, which could run at least two weeks.

The defense urged jurors to consider Stone's state of mind at the time he was speaking to the Intelligence Committee. Rogow read from a letter Stone's lawyers received from the committee that said the interview would cover topics including Russian cyber activities and potential leaks between Moscow and political campaign officials.

"There's no mention of WikiLeaks. There's no mention of Assange," Rogow said.

Rogow also disputed the notion that Stone ever had any intermediary with Assange, saying Credico was trying to pump himself up and make himself a "bigger man" than he truly was.

"There was no intermediary. There was no go-between. Mr. Corsi was not an intermediary. These people were playing Mr. Stone. ... It's made-up stuff," Rogow said.

Zelinsky said that if one is looking for someone to "pin something on, Randy Credico is a pretty good person to pick," noting for example his past struggles with alcohol.

Zelinsky said Stone lied in sworn testimony to Representative Adam Schiff, now chairman of the Intelligence Committee, about emails to third parties related to Assange.

"He said he had no emails of any kind referring to Julian Assange," Zelinsky said.

Stone actually had "many, many such emails" including a message from Corsi saying more damaging email dumps were coming, Zelinsky added.

The prosecution said jurors will hear in the coming days from Bannon and former deputy campaign chairman Rick Gates, who last year testified against former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

The charges against Stone, which could lead to a decades-long prison sentence, stem from Mueller's investigation, which ended in March. Mueller's investigation, which documented Russian efforts to boost Trump's candidacy through a campaign of hacking and propaganda, led to criminal charges against several Trump advisers and campaign aides.

Stone and his former business partner Manafort were the only two not to plead guilty. Manafort was convicted and sentenced to 7-1/2 years in prison.


(This story refiles to add dropped word in ninth paragraph)


(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Will Dunham)

  • Bloomberg pledges $70 billion to bolster black America in new plan
    Yahoo News

    Bloomberg pledges $70 billion to bolster black America in new plan

    Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg will announce on Sunday his presidential campaign's plan aimed at bolstering economic opportunity for black Americans, promising to triple their income over the next decade, but stopping short of promising reparations. Bloomberg's “Greenwood Initiative” plan is named after the Greenwood District, otherwise known as “Black Wall Street,” a Tulsa neighborhood that was once considered one of the most economically prosperous black communities in the U.S. The neighborhood was the center of a deadly two-day attack by a white mob during the 1920s. Ninety-nine years later, Bloomberg will announce his plan in the same district.

  • Republican senator on Trump soliciting foreign interference: 'Things happen'
    Yahoo News

    Republican senator on Trump soliciting foreign interference: 'Things happen'

    Republican Sen. Richard Shelby defended an argument from President Trump's legal team that soliciting foreign interference in an election is not an impeachable offense, saying, “things happen. When asked if Trump's months-long campaign to pressure Ukraine into investigating his political rival was improper, the Alabama senator told George Stephanopoulos on ABC's “This Week,” “Well, I don't know that has been actually proven. That's all in dispute, of what happened, whether the Russians were involved in it, whether Ukrainians involved in it, who was involved in it and to what extent,” Shelby continued.

  • Two More Bodies Found at Tijuana Property Where Missing California Couple Were Buried Under the Dirt Floor
    The Daily Beast

    Two More Bodies Found at Tijuana Property Where Missing California Couple Were Buried Under the Dirt Floor

    Two more bodies have been discovered at a Tijuana, Mexico, property where investigators earlier found the remains of a missing California couple buried under the dirt floor of a house on Friday. Jesús Rubén López Guillén, 70, a U.S. resident, and his wife Maria Teresa Guillén, 65, a naturalized U.S. citizen, were reported missing by their daughter Norma López after they traveled from Garden Grove to Tijuana on Jan. 10 to collect more than $6,400 in overdue rent from their 37-year-old son-in-law. Police in Garden Grove launched a missing persons investigation after López said she could no longer track her parents' movements through the Find My Phone app.

  • 'I stayed alive to tell' - Auschwitz's dwindling survivors recount horrors of Nazi death camp
    Reuters

    'I stayed alive to tell' - Auschwitz's dwindling survivors recount horrors of Nazi death camp

    A strip of skin tattooed with the Auschwitz death camp number 99288 sits in a silver frame on a shelf in Avraham Harshalom's living room. As the 75th anniversary of the camp's liberation on Jan 27, 1945, nears, Harshalom, 95, is very clear about why he kept it. Harshalom is one of some 200,000 Holocaust survivors living in Israel today.

  • Body of woman who was missing for almost 6 years found in car submerged in NJ river
    USA TODAY

    Body of woman who was missing for almost 6 years found in car submerged in NJ river

    SALEM, N.J. – A body found in a submerged car here Thursday was a New Jersey woman reported missing almost six years ago. Vanessa Smallwood, who was 46 at the time of her disappearance, was identified in a statement from New Jersey State Police. Smallwood was a Maple Shade resident, according to the statement.

  • Illegal crossings plunge as US extends policy across border
    Associated Press

    Illegal crossings plunge as US extends policy across border

    Adolfo Cardenas smiles faintly at the memory of traveling with his 14-year-old son from Honduras to the U.S.-Mexico border in only nine days, riding buses and paying a smuggler $6,000 to ensure passage through highway checkpoints. Father and son walked about 10 minutes in Arizona's stifling June heat before surrendering to border agents. Instead of being released with paperwork to appear in immigration court in Dallas, where Cardenas hopes to live with a cousin, they were bused more than an hour to wait in the Mexican border city of Mexicali.

  • Iran confirms two missiles fired at Ukraine airliner
    AFP

    Iran confirms two missiles fired at Ukraine airliner

    Iran has confirmed two missiles were fired at a Ukrainian airliner brought down this month, in a catastrophic error that killed all 176 people on board and sparked angry protests. The country's civil aviation authority said it has yet to receive a positive response after requesting technical assistance from France and the United States to decode black boxes from the downed airliner. The Kiev-bound Ukraine International Airlines plane was accidentally shot down shortly after takeoff from Tehran's Imam Khomeini International Airport on January 8.

  • Cult slayed pregnant woman and five of her children in Panama
    Yahoo News Video

    Cult slayed pregnant woman and five of her children in Panama

    A religious sect whose members believed to be “anointed by God” forced a pregnant woman and five of her children to walk through fire as part of a cult ritual, according to local residents.

  • Ex-Carnival and Norwegian Cruise Line workers reveal the things they couldn't live without on board
    Business Insider

    Ex-Carnival and Norwegian Cruise Line workers reveal the things they couldn't live without on board

    The workers' former employers were Carnival Cruise Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, and American Cruise Lines. A cruise ship is an unusual work environment, keeping employees away from their homes for months at a time. Six former cruise-ship workers told Business Insider what they couldn't live without during their contracts.

  • Intelligence officials: New ISIS leader is one of its founding members
    The Week

    Intelligence officials: New ISIS leader is one of its founding members

    The Islamic State's new leader is Amir Mohammed Abdul Rahman al-Mawli al-Salbi, one of the terrorist organization's founding members, intelligence officials told The Guardian. Last October, ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed in a raid in Syria, and officials said Salbi replaced him just hours after his death. Born to an Iraqi Turkmen family, Salbi has a background as an Islamic scholar, and came up with the ISIS religious rulings authorizing the enslavement of Iraq's Yazidi minority.

  • Warren, Klobuchar Get Dual New York Times Nod: Campaign Update
    Bloomberg

    Warren, Klobuchar Get Dual New York Times Nod: Campaign Update

    Warren Says Senators to Get Say in Judge Picks (6:14 p.m. Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren criticized Congressional Republicans for ignoring the tradition that allows senators to approve or veto a judge from their home state, saying that if elected president she wouldn't allow them to play “dirty” to block her nominees. I'm not going to be the Democrat who says, 'oh, when Democrats are in the White House we'll all play by the nice rules,' and when Republicans are in the White House we all play by the dirty rules.

  • Dershowitz tells CNN he wasn't wrong about Clinton's impeachment but is 'far more correct' defending Trump
    The Week

    Dershowitz tells CNN he wasn't wrong about Clinton's impeachment but is 'far more correct' defending Trump

    In 1998, when the Senate held an impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton, Alan Dershowitz argued that "if you have somebody who completely corrupts the office of president and who abuses trust and who poses great danger to our liberty, you don't need a technical crime" to impeach. Now that he's part of President Trump's defense team, he argues that "without a crime, there can be no impeachment." Anderson Cooper asked Dershowitz about the apparent discrepancy between those views on CNN Monday night. Dershowitz said he still believes you don't need a "technical crime," just "criminal-like behavior akin to bribery and treason." He said his argument is consistent, and when Cooper pointed out it isn't, he insisted he "wasn't wrong" in 1998, he just has "a more sophisticated basis for my argument now." Cooper wasn't persuaded by Dershowitz's logic and CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin didn't agree with his legal argument that abuse of power and obstruction of Congress aren't impeachable offenses.

  • China's Navy Warships Are Now Armed With Land-Attack Missiles
    The National Interest

    China's Navy Warships Are Now Armed With Land-Attack Missiles

    China says its newest destroyer is capable of launching land-attack missiles. The Tomahawk land-attack cruise missile has been a favorite tool of U.S. foreign policy and warfighting for 30 years, fired at everything from military bases in Iraq and Syria, to a failed 1998 attempt to kill Osama Bin Laden at his Afghan lair. Russia also has used them: in 2015, Russia fired Kalibr cruise missiles at Syrian rebels from warships stationed a thousand miles away in the Caspian Sea, in a demonstration of the long arm of the Kremlin.

  • 3 children found dead in Arizona home, police try to determine cause
    USA TODAY

    3 children found dead in Arizona home, police try to determine cause

    Three children, all under the age of 4, were found dead in a Phoenix home Monday night, according to Phoenix fire officials. Phoenix Fire Capt. Rob McDade later confirmed there were three children who were deceased, but did not provide a cause of death. The Phoenix Police Department posted a written statement on its Facebook page saying that officers were called to the home at about 7:30 p.m. When they arrived, they found a 3-year-old boy, 2-year-old girl and a 7-month girl unresponsive.

  • Leopard runs into house before being captured in south India
    Associated Press

    Leopard runs into house before being captured in south India

    A leopard that ran into a house and sparked a frantic search and a frenzy of attention in southern India on Monday has been caught and tranquilized. The big cat emerged from the Kamdanam forest and ran into a house in Shadnagar town in Telangana state, said Dr. Mohammad Abdul Hakeem, a wildlife official. After people were evacuated from the immediate area, wildlife officials worked to catch the animal and residents swarmed to watch and snap photos.

  • You Should Get an Electric Fireplace
    Architectural Digest

    You Should Get an Electric Fireplace

    Who couldn't use a little more ambiance? Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest

  • UK to introduce tougher jail terms for convicted terrorists after London Bridge attack
    Reuters

    UK to introduce tougher jail terms for convicted terrorists after London Bridge attack

    Britain will introduce tougher jail sentences for convicted terrorists and will end early release as part of a series of measures to strengthen its response to terrorism, the government said on Tuesday. Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged to make changes after an attack near London Bridge in November in which Usman Khan, a convicted terrorist who had been released early from prison, killed two people. Khan had been sentenced to a minimum of eight years in prison in 2012 with a requirement that the parole board assess his danger to the public before release.

  • John Roberts Has More Power Than Mitch McConnell Would Like You to Think. But Will He Use It?
    Time

    John Roberts Has More Power Than Mitch McConnell Would Like You to Think. But Will He Use It?

    The Constitution is, in many respects, vague. At the time of drafting of the Constitution, the colonists were still recovering from a bitter eight-year war for independence, in which their adversary was the armed forces of the British King George III — the tyrannical monarch who had stripped them of their right to self-government. One of the checks in this balance was to give the legislature the power to remove the any member of the executive branch, including the President, by impeachment.

  • Photos surface showing convicted Nazi guard Demjanjuk at Sobibor
    AFP

    Photos surface showing convicted Nazi guard Demjanjuk at Sobibor

    New photos have emerged which for the first time show convicted Nazi guard John Demjanjuk at the Sobibor death camp, a Berlin archive confirmed Monday, although he always denied ever being there. Ukrainian-American Demjanjuk was convicted of being an accessory to the murder of nearly 30,000 Jews at Sobibor by a German court in 2011. According to the Berlin-based Topography of Terror archive, photos of Demjanjuk are among a newly discovered collection of more than 350 snaps which give "detailed insight" into the camp in German-occupied Poland.

  • Bloomberg

    Report Warned of Threat to U.S. Troops in Germany: Newsweek

    The U.S. received intelligence about a potentially imminent attack being planned against military personnel stationed in Germany, Newsweek reported, citing a memo it saw. To view the source of this information click here To contact the reporter on this story: Nathan Crooks in Miami at ncrooks@bloomberg.net To contact the editor responsible for this story: Sebastian Tong at stong41@bloomberg.net For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com Subscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source. ©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • How Trump Twisted Iran Intel to Manufacture the ‘Four Embassies’ Threat
    The Daily Beast

    How Trump Twisted Iran Intel to Manufacture the ‘Four Embassies’ Threat

    When President Donald Trump publicly claimed earlier this month that he had seen intel showing Iran's now-deceased top military leader Qassem Soleimani was plotting attacks on “four [American] embassies,” senior officials in Trump's national security apparatus shook their heads. They weren't sure exactly why the president leaned on that particular talking point, and scrambled in the following days to formulate answers to a barrage of questions from the media on exactly what the president had meant. Other officials wondered aloud whether the president had misrepresented the intelligence.

  • 3 Minors Killed in California Hit-and-Run Crash; Suspect Arrested
    KTLA - Los Angeles

    3 Minors Killed in California Hit-and-Run Crash; Suspect Arrested

    Three minors were killed when the vehicle they were traveling in was involved in a hit-and-run crash in Temescal Valley in California, officials said.

  • The images of Australia's storms are downright apocalyptic
    The Week

    The images of Australia's storms are downright apocalyptic

    Australia just can't catch a break. As wildfires continued to devastate parts of the country, a miles-long dust storm rolled across New South Wales Sunday, blotting out the sun. As CNN reports, the area has been experiencing drought since 2017, so dirt is loose and easily kicked up by high winds.

  • The 25 Best PSP Games
    Popular Mechanics

    The 25 Best PSP Games

    Console-sized action. On-the-go goodness.From Popular Mechanics

  • Indonesia says 5 citizens kidnapped by Philippine militants
    Associated Press

    Indonesia says 5 citizens kidnapped by Philippine militants

    Indonesian authorities said Tuesday that five of the country's citizens have been kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf militants in the southern Philippines. The five being held hostage were among eight Indonesians on a Malaysian fishing boat that was fishing in Malaysian waters before it was seen entering Philippine waters on Jan. 16, Indonesia's Foreign Ministry said in a statement. It said the boat was seen re-entering Malaysian waters the same day with only three people on board.