There’s much more to Roger Stone than his connection to President Donald Trump.
USA TODAYWASHINGTON — Roger Stone, a longtime Republican operative who has embraced a reputation as a dirty trickster, will stand trial this week on accusations that he lied about his role as a middleman between WikiLeaks and the Trump campaign during the 2016 presidential race. Stone, who has maintained his innocence, is among the most prominent allies of President Donald Trump to be charged as part of former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the presidential election.And he’s the latest to face trial. The spectacle of Stone’s trial, which begins with jury selection on Tuesday, could reinvigorate the Trump-Russia controversy as the president faces accusations that he sought to have another country, Ukraine, interfere in the 2020 election.Stone will face a jury at a federal courthouse across the street from the Capitol, where an impeachment inquiry has yielded damning testimony about the Trump administration’s efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden.The allegations against Stone revolve around his alleged contacts with WikiLeaks and the Trump campaign in the summer of 2016, and his efforts to hide that communication from Congress and the FBI. The 67-year-old flamboyant Trump ally faces seven charges: one count of obstruction of an official proceeding, five counts of false statements, and one count of witness tampering. The maximum penalty for all the charges totals 50 years in prison, though first-time offenders usually are sentenced to much less. The government’s evidence against Stone includes emails and text messages that show his efforts to learn about WikiLeaks’ plan to release damaging emails about Hillary Clinton, Trump’s Democratic rival in the 2016 election. Prosecutors say they also have messages in which Stone pressured a witness to scuttle his congressional testimony.Communications with WikiLeaks, Trump campaignProsecutors contend Stone knew WikiLeaks had damaging information about Clinton’s campaign even before the anti-secrecy group released a trove of emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee in 2016.Stone told senior Trump campaign officials about WikiLeaks in the summer of 2016, according to prosecutors. After the group published the DNC emails in late July, a campaign official was directed to contact Stone and ask about additional releases, according to court records. Prosecutors have not said who directed that official.Mueller’s two-year investigation found that Russian intelligence stole the emails and passed them to WikiLeaks. Gag order: ‘What am I supposed to do with you?’ Judge bars Roger Stone from social mediaThe indictment cites several emails and text messages between Stone and two associates: Jerome Corsi, a right-wing political commentator, and Randy Credico, a radio host who has interviewed WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Prosecutors allege Stone asked the two men, neither of whom have been charged with a crime, to pass messages to Assange. Prosecutors say Corsi alerted Stone in August 2016 that WikiLeaks was planning to release more emails.”Word is friend in embassy plans 2 more dumps,” Corsi said, referring to Assange’s self-imposed exile at the Ecuadorian embassy in London. “Impact planned to be very damaging.”Stone proceeded to say privately and publicly that he had been in contact with WikiLeaks, though the