In the final months of the 2016 campaign, longtime Donald Trump associate Roger Stone repeatedly discussed his backchannel communications with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and claimed knowledge of forthcoming leaks from the group, a CNN KFile review of his public statements shows.
Stone’s comments about WikiLeaks have come under increased scrutiny as the FBI and congressional committees investigate whether Trump associates were involved in Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 election.
Stone has repeatedly and publicly denied that he had any contact with Russian officials during the campaign. Stone declined to answer questions from CNN for this story. After this story was published, WikiLeaks tweeted, “WikiLeaks & Assange have repeatedly confirmed that they have never communicated with Stone.”
But Stone’s many statements have fueled suspicions that figures in Trump’s orbit played a role in releases of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta.
On July 22 of last year, on the eve of the Democratic National Convention, WikiLeaks released nearly 20,000 internal DNC emails, which ultimately sparked the resignation of DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
“Guccifer 2.0,” the online persona US intelligence officials believe is a front for Russian intelligence, claimed responsibility for the hacks.
WikiLeaks began to serially release emails from Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta in October. The US intelligence community has attributed those hacks to Russian intelligence.
Stone began discussing WikiLeaks and Assange in August 2016. Stone told a local Republican Party group in Florida on August 10 that he had “communicated with Julian Assange.” In an interview later in August, Stone suggested that Assange had material that included emails deleted by Clinton aides Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills. At other times, Stone said the material released would be related to the Clinton Foundation.
On August 21, Stone tweeted that “it will soon the Podesta’s time in the barrel.” Stone claimed in an October 19 Breitbart post that he did not have advanced knowledge that Podesta’s hacked emails would be leaked, claiming his tweet was about Podesta’s business dealings.
In mid-September, Stone said on Boston Herald Radio that he expects, “Julian Assange and the Wikileaks people to drop a payload of new documents on a weekly basis fairly soon. And that of course will answer the question of exactly what was erased on that email server.”
In late October, Stone told a local Florida television station he only knew of the material that would be released in “a broad sense” from a source who was a friend of Assange.
Here’s a timeline of Stone’s statements:
Stone tells a local Republican Party group in Florida “I’ve actually communicated with Julian Assange.”
Stone says on the #MAGA podcast he believes Assange has emails deleted by Clinton aides Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills. He adds that he knows he has them and they should be expected to drop in the next three months.
“In fact I know [Assange] has them,” Stone said. “And I believe he will expose the American people to this information in the next 90 days.”
Stone engages in direct messages with DNC hacker Guccifer 2.0, according to direct messages reported by the Washington Times and The Smoking Gun. Stone tells the hacker he was “delighted” Twitter reinstated his account.
Stone tells World Net Daily he communicated with Assange and forthcoming material will be related to the Clinton Foundation.
Stone tells radio host Alex Jones he has “backchannel communications” with Assange who has “political dynamite” on the Clintons.
Stone says in an interview on C-SPAN he’s been in touch with Julian Assange “through an intermediary—somebody who is a mutual friend.” WikiLeaks would later tweet in response to Stone’s appearance, “We are happy to hear true information from everyone. But so far, we have not heard from Mr. Stone.”
Stone says he is not “at liberty to discuss” information he received from Assange. Stone claims he was hacked after speaking with Assange.
Stone says on The Blaze radio that he had “communicated” with Assange through a “mutual acquaintance.”
Stone tweets that “it will soon the Podesta’s time in the barrel.” Stone later says his tweet was about Podesta’s business dealings.
Stone denies Guccifer 2.0 is connected to the Russians on local Maryland radio.
“The DNC leaks that nailed Deborah Wasserman Schultz in the heist against Bernie Sanders was not leaked by the Russians, it was leaked by Cruccifer [sic] 2, I should say hacked and leaked first by Cruccifer 2, well known hacker who is not in the employment of the Russians and then Wikileaks. So that whole claim is a canard.”
In an interview with Breitbart Radio, Stone says, “I’m almost confident Mr. Assange has virtually every one of the emails that the Clinton henchwomen, Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills, thought that they had deleted, and I suspect that he’s going to drop them at strategic times in the run up to this race.”
Stone says on local Florida radio of Assange and the Clinton Foundation, “Perhaps he has the smoking gun that will make this handcuff time.”
Stone says on Boston Herald Radio that he expects Assange the WikiLeaks to “drop a payload of new documents on a weekly basis fairly soon. And that of course will answer the question of exactly what was erased on that email server.”
Stone adds of Assange, “I am in touch with him through an intermediary.”
Stone tweets, “Wednesday @HillaryClinton is done. #Wikileaks.”
Stone tells a local Florida radio station that he has “a back-channel communication with Assange, because we have a good mutual friend.”
“That friend travels back and forth from the United States to London and we talk. I had dinner with him last Monday,” Stone said.
Stone writes on Breitbart: “I had no advance notice of WikiLeaks’ hacking of Podesta’s e-mails.”
Stone says on local Florida television that he had no advanced knowledge of the forthcoming hack of Podesta’s emails, but says he has a “backchannel contact” to Assange.
“We have a mutual friend,” Stone says.
When asked about the content of the information shared, Stone said, “Broad information pertaining to the fact that Wikileaks has information pertaining to massive secret surveillance, war, oil, the U.S. election.”
Stone says he only knew about emails being released “in the broad sense.” He says he has never met or spoken to Assange and didn’t pass any information about it to Trump.
Stone calls claims that he colluded with Assange “false” in a blog post and says he only knew of forthcoming material because, “Julian Assange of WikiLeaks on numerous occasions had signaled that he had unspecified political dynamite that would shake up the presidential race.”
Stone explains his WikiLeaks contacts in a Reddit ask me anything.
“I have been forthright about the fact that Julian Assange of Wikileaks and I share a common friend who has communicated with both of us,” he writes. “I was simply told Wikileaks was in possession of ‘political dynamite’ that would ‘rock Hillary’s campaign,’ and they would release it in late October.”
“I had no previous knowledge of the subject of the disclosures, although I’ve speculated that it would be related to the Clinton Foundation. I’ve had no advance knowledge of the hacking of Podesta or anyone else. Nor do I believe that Assange is an agent of the Russians, a charge which is yet undocumented with proof and which he denies.”
Stone tweets — then deletes — about communicating with Assange, writing that he “never denied perfectly legal backchannel to Assange who indeed had the goods on #CrookedHillary.”
Stone says charges he colluded with Russian hacker Guccifer are “demonstrably false.”
Stone tweets in response to the House Intelligence Committee hearing on Russian interference in the 2016 election: “It’s only fair that I have a chance to respond 2 any smears or half truths about alleged “Collusion with Russians” from 2day’s Intel Hearing.”