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Trump adviser Stone found guilty on all counts in Russian election interference case

Roger Stone, former campaign adviser to U.S. President Donald Trump.

Roger Stone, former campaign adviser to U.S. President Donald Trump.   | Photo Credit: Reuters

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The 67-year-old veteran Republican political operative - a self-described "dirty trickster" - has been found guilty on seven criminal counts of lying to Congress, obstruction and witness tampering.

A jury convicted U.S. President Donald Trump's adviser Roger Stone on November 15, finding the long-time Republican operative and self-proclaimed “dirty trickster” guilty on seven criminal counts of lying to Congress, obstruction and witness tampering.

The verdict, in a trial arising from investigations of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election, is not only a blow to Stone but renews scrutiny on then-candidate Mr. Trump's activities at a time when he faces an impeachment inquiry that could derail his presidency.

The 67-year-old veteran Republican political operative - a self-described dirty trickster and agent provocateur - was charged earlier this year with obstructing justice, witness tampering and lying to the U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee during its investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Stone’s colorful trial in federal court in Washington was as much about the rough-and-tumble world of politics, as it was about hair-splitting legal arguments, such as whether Stone truly lied about WikiLeaks since that website was never explicitly mentioned in the intelligence committee's publicly-stated parameters of its probe.

The trial featured multiple references to “The Godfather Part II,” a Bernie Sanders impression, and testimony by political heavyweights including former Trump campaign CEO Steve Bannon and former Trump campaign deputy Rick Gates, each of whom said they believed Stone had inside information about when WikiLeaks might release more damaging emails about then-Republican candidate Mr. Trump’s Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton.

Prosecutors accused Stone of telling lawmakers five different lies related to WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange, which in 2016 dumped a series of damaging emails about Clinton that U.S. intelligence officials and Special Counsel Robert Mueller later concluded had been stolen by Russian hackers.

Some of those lies relate to the existence of certain texts or emails, while others pertain to Stone’s conversations with Mr. Trump campaign officials and a supposed “intermediary” with WikiLeaks in early August 2016 whom Stone identified to lawmakers as being comedian Randy Credico.

Prosecutors said Stone did not actually start talking to Mr. Credico about WikiLeaks until later that month, and the actual person to whom he was referring in testimony as an “intermediary” was conservative author Jerome Corsi whom Stone dispatched in an email to “Get to Assange!” and get the emails.

Mr. Corsi was not called as a witness in the trial.

Stone, a close ally of Mr. Trump, who famously has the face of former president Richard Nixon tattooed on his back, was also accused of tampering with a witness, Mr. Credico, when Mr. Credico was summoned to testify before Congress and speak with the FBI.

Both Stone and Mr. Credico, who took the stand in the case, have since said that the latter did not act as a WikiLeaks back channel.

In emails and texts, the jury saw messages that Stone had sent Mr. Credico that included comments like “Prepare to die,” “You're a rat. A stoolie,” and “Stonewall it. Plead the Fifth. Anything to save the plan,” in a reference to a famous Richard Nixon Watergate quote.

He also repeatedly urged Mr. Credico to “do a Frank Pentangeli” - a reference to a “Godfather II” character who recants his congressional testimony against a mobster amid intimidation.

A lawyer for Stone dismissed the Pentangeli reference, saying Mr. Credico had done impressions of the character in the past, and said the “odious language” they used was just part of how they interacted.

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Printable version | Dec 7, 2019 7:13:42 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/trump-adviser-stone-found-guilty-on-all-counts-in-russian-election-interference-case/article29986524.ece

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