This week, as House impeachment investigators get their first public hearings underway, longtime Trump associate Roger Stone is on trial for an array of criminal charges centering on obstruction of justice. He carried out that campaign to hide his connections to and work to support WikiLeaks, which released emails that Russian hackers stole from key Democratic sources in the lead-up to the 2016 elections, and now, former Trump aide Rick Gates has revealed new details about just how far the connection between the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks that Stone helped along really went. He indicated that then-candidate Trump himself got WikiLeaks updates from Stone.
Stone previously claimed that he did not discuss WikiLeaks with the Trump campaign, but that’s demonstrably false. In his current trial, federal prosecutors have already unveiled evidence of Stone’s communications with figures like past Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and past top Trump adviser Steve Bannon. Now, Gates told a federal court this week that he was with Trump in mid-2016 when the then-candidate got a call from Stone and seemed to learn of upcoming WikiLeaks dumps that way.
‘”After Mr. Trump got off the phone with Mr. Stone, what did Mr. Trump say?” prosecutor Aaron Zelinsky asked Gates. “He indicated more information would be coming,” Gates responded, in testimony at Stone’s criminal trial in Washington.’
He added that around the time of that call, which came shortly after WikiLeaks’ July release of stolen emails, “The campaign was in a state of happiness.” Gates also revealed that Stone had been feeding information to the Trump campaign about WikiLeaks’ plans for months before the organization actually made anything public.
Prosecutors have long outlined who Stone’s sources really were, including right-wing conspiracy theorist and commentator Jerome Corsi and, to a lesser extent, eventually right-wing commentator Randy Credico. Stone attempted to harass Credico into going along with his plan to single him out as his main WikiLeaks source, but that plot has long been revealed at this point.
Although much of Trump’s attention has been on the impeachment inquiry, he has previously expressed his support for Stone following the emergence of federal criminal charges against him.
In late January of this year, Trump complained on Twitter, pointing to a laundry list of his favorite conspiracy theories:
‘If Roger Stone was indicted for lying to Congress, what about the lying done by Comey, Brennan, Clapper, Lisa Page & lover, Baker and soooo many others? What about Hillary to FBI and her 33,000 deleted Emails? What about Lisa & Peter’s deleted texts & Wiener’s laptop? Much more!’
The new testimony from Gates flatly refutes previous claims from Stone and Trump. In his written answers to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Trump claimed that he did not recall ever having spoken to Stone about the stolen emails and was unaware of any contacts between his campaign in general and Stone about the emails. Although that’s already been flattened by revelations about Stone’s talks with Manafort and Bannon, it’s hard to come up with a more direct refutation than what Gates revealed this week.