This week, yet another former Trump team member abruptly fell to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation when Roger Stone was arrested at his home in Florida. His indictment doesn’t formally name individuals he was involved with during his secret efforts to coordinate the Trump campaign and Wikileaks, but there’s a clear place where none other than former Trump campaign chairman Steve Bannon fits in.
As Stone’s indictment describes, he was “contacted by senior Trump Campaign officials to inquire about future releases by Organization 1,” which is Wikileaks, the organization led by Julian Assange that assisted Russian efforts to spread the information they stole from the Democratic Party in the lead-up to the 2016 elections. At least one of those senior officials “was directed” to get in touch with Stone, perhaps opening the door to involvement in the scheme as high up as then-candidate Donald Trump. Sources confirm that one of the officials was Bannon.
Previously, reports have circulated about Bannon getting in touch with Stone about Wikileaks, but this is the first apparent official confirmation of that. Neither Bannon nor his legal team offered any comment, but even still, in yet another instance, the Trump campaign attempted documented collusion with Kremlin efforts to tilt the 2016 elections in their favor, no matter how many times President Donald Trump shouts “No collusion!”
An official who was apparently Bannon sought information from Stone about future Wikileaks drops after Assange held a press conference on October 4, 2016, to discuss incoming leaks — and once the first cache of stolen Clinton campaign emails dropped on October 7, Stone “claimed credit for having correctly predicted… the release,” his indictment asserts.
Ultimately, Stone faces charges including witness tampering, obstruction of justice, and lying to Congress, although none that apparently covers the original acts in question — at least for now. Mueller’s office has slapped targeted interests including even former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort with charges of “conspiracy against the United States,” which could cover the criminal aspects of collusion.
Every other one of the former Trump team members to face charges from Mueller’s office before Stone has at least made a show of moving towards cooperation, even if in one case — Manafort’s — that actual cooperation fell through.
Meanwhile, Stone’s team expressed anger at the direction their client’s case has been taken. Stone lawyer Bruce Rogow asserted:
‘I am disappointed in the grandstanding with an early morning arrest. I would have expected better from the [Special Counsel’s Office]. Roger was not hiding from anyone — quite the opposite. A phone call and he would have appeared voluntarily.’
Obviously authorities do not care for Rogow’s complaints about them not being nice enough and take his client’s crimes seriously.
Stone has personally previously suggested he was prepared to be indicted, although not in an admission of guilt, instead asserting that he could face “some bogus charge in order to silence me or induce me to testify against the president.”
Notably enough, even past 10 A.M. on the East Coast, President Donald Trump himself had not responded to any of these developments despite his penchant for early morning public statements delivered via Twitter. Perhaps the severity of the situation got to him, even if only for a moment.
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