On Friday (Jan. 25), the office of the special counsel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election released an indictment (pdf) of Roger Stone, a longtime associate of Donald Trump. The indictment is both cryptic and riveting, and names no one apart from the accused.
The document reveals a slew of exchanges between Stone and people involved in the Trump campaign about communications with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. In 2016, WikiLeaks revealed the hacked emails of then presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
As the indictment explains, around May 2016, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee learned that their computer systems had been compromised by unauthorized intrusions and hired a security company (“Company 1”) to identify the extent of the intrusions. Company 1 identified the hackers as Russian government actors.
In July of that year, an organization (“Organization 1”), which had previously posted documents “stolen by others from US persons, entities, and the US government, released tens of thousands of documents stolen from the DNC and the personal email account of the chairman of Clinton’s presidential campaign.” More releases followed ahead of the November election, and Stone was allegedly involved with these leaks.
Following so far? We’ve cracked the code to help you identify who’s who and what’s what.
Organization 1: This is evidently Wikileaks. We know this not only because it leaked documents in 2016 but also because in the indictment it’s identified by its chief, who “was located at all relevant times at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, United Kingdom.” Julian Assange, WikiLeaks’ founder, has been living at that embassy since June 2012, when he applied for asylum.
Person 1: This seems to be Jerome Corsi, a conservative writer and conspiracy theorist, who was in contact with Stone in the summer of 2016. He is identified in the document as “a political commentator who worked with an online media publication during the 2016 US presidential campaign. Person 1 spoke regularly with Stone throughout the campaign, including about the release of stolen documents by Organization 1.”
On July 25, 2016, Stone emailed Corsi, telling him to “get to” Assange in the “Ecuadorian Embassy in London and get the pending” WikiLeaks “emails.” Communication between Corsi and Stone continued throughout the summer and on Aug. 2, Corsi emailed Stone claiming knowledge of Assange’s plans. “Word is friend in embassy plans 2 more dumps. One shortly after I’m back [from a trip in Europe]. 2nd in Oct. Impact planned to be very damaging.”
According to the indictment, Stone and “Person 1” were in communication about Organization 1. Person 1 told Stone of Assange’s plans and his emails in the indictment match those attributed to Corsi in press reports.
The indictment also points out that Stone admitted in public events and press interviews that “I have had some back-channel communication with [Organization 1] and [the head of Organization 1],” that he “communicated with [the head of Organization 1],” and that they had a “mutual acquaintance who is a fine gentleman.” That fine gentleman seems to be Corsi.
Person 2: In August 2016, Stone was in communication with another individual with an interest in the campaign, who seems to be Randy Credico, a former comedian, political hopeful, and radio show host. According to the indictment, “Person 2 was a radio host who had known Stone for more than a decade.” Stone described him as an “intermediary,” “go-between,” and “mutual friend” to the head of Organization 1—Assange at WikiLeaks.
Person 2 was the “gentleman who confirmed” that the head of Organization 1 had “‘[e]mails related to Hillary Clinton which are pending publication.” The indictment states that on Aug. 19, 2016, Person 2 sent a text message to Stone that read in part, “I’m going to have [the head of Organization 1] on my show next Thursday.” He later told Stone, “[The head of Organization 1] has kryptonite on Hillary.”
On Oct. 2, 2016, Person 2 texted Stone to say, “Off the Record Hillary and her people are doing a full-court press they [sic] keep [the head of Organization 1] from making the next dump . . . That’s all I can tell you on this line . . . Please leave my name out of it.”
In November 2017, Stone told the House Intelligence Committee that Credico was his intermediary with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to obtain information on Clinton. Credico was then subpoenaed to appear before the committee, but avoided the interview by pleading his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
In the indictment, Stone is accused of directing Credico not to testify and plead the fifth.
The reporter: Breitbart’s Washington politics editor, Matthew Boyle, appears to be “the reporter” in the special counsel’s indictment of Stone. According to the charging document, on Oct. 3, 2016, Stone received an email from a reporter who had connections to a high-ranking Trump campaign official that asked, “[the head of Organization 1] – what’s he got? Hope it’s good.” Stone responded in part, “It is. I’d tell [the high-ranking Trump Campaign official] but he doesn’t call me back.”
This exchange matches communications published by the New York Times (paywall) in November between Boyle, Steve Bannon, and Stone. As the indictment explains:
On or about October 4, 2016, the head of Organization 1 held a press conference but did not release any new materials pertaining to the Clinton Campaign. Shortly afterwards, Stone received an email from the high-ranking Trump Campaign official asking about the status of future releases by Organization 1. Stone answered that the head of Organization 1 had a “[s]erious security concern” but that Organization 1 would release “a load every week going forward.”
The high-ranking Trump campaign official: Based on the published emails, this official appears to be Steve Bannon, Breitbart News’ co-founder, who left the organization to join the Trump campaign.
In October 2016, Boyle told Bannon to contact Stone, who had complained that he couldn’t get through to him with the WikiLeaks information. Boyle e-mailed Bannon: “You should call Roger. See below. You didn’t get from me.” Bannon replied, “I’ve got important stuff to worry about.”
On Oct. 3, after WikiLeaks announced that it would not be releasing documents after all, Bannon wrote to Stone, asking, “What was that this morning???” Stone replied, “Fear. Serious security concern. He thinks they are going to kill him and the London police are standing done [sic]. However—a load every week going forward.”
The charges: Stone’s indictment is based on his communications with the special counsel’s office and his testimony to investigators. On May 22, 2017, Stone’s attorneys submitted a letter to investigators stating that “Stone has no documents, records, or electronically stored information, regardless of form, other than those widely available that reasonably could lead to the discovery of any facts within the investigation’s publicly-announced parameters.” This proved to be false, as evidenced by the emails that were publicized in the New York Times.
On Sep. 26, 2017, Stone testified before investigators and said in his opening statement, “These hearings are largely based on a yet unproven allegation that the Russian state is responsible for the hacking of the DNC and [the Clinton Campaign chairman] and the transfer of that information to [Organization 1].” He decried “assertions against me which must be rebutted here today,” including “[t]he charge that I knew in advance about, and predicted, the hacking of Clinton campaign chairman[’s] email, [and] that I had advanced knowledge of the source or actual content of the [Organization 1] disclosures regarding Hillary Clinton.”
The indictment argues that Stone “made deliberately false and misleading statements” about his possession of documents pertinent to the special counsel’s investigation, his sources, his communications pertaining to the leaked emails, and his communications with the Trump campaign. The charging document states:
In truth and in fact, Stone had sent and received numerous emails and text messages during the 2016 campaign in which he discussed Organization 1, its head, and its possession of hacked emails.
Stone was also accused of directing Person 2 not to testify about the investigation, manipulating others to also obstruct the special counsel’s efforts. The indictment concludes that Stone “corruptly influenced, obstructed, impeded, and endeavored to influence, obstruct, and impede the due and proper exercise of the power of inquiry under which any inquiry and investigation is being had.” This morning, Stone was arrested in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and charged with seven counts of obstruction of justice.