Mueller’s team has proved highly successful so far in getting even Trump’s most loyal associates to “flip” on the president using criminal charges as leverage. Just this month, Mueller struck a formal cooperation deal with Trump’s longtime personal lawyer Michael Cohen after charging him with lying to Congress about a Russian real-estate deal he and Trump were pursuing in 2016. If Stone is charged by Mueller with a similar crime and decides to cooperate rather than face jail time, it could spell danger for the president. Stone reportedly spoke to Trump regularly during the election, and could be in a position to fill in missing details about the campaign’s ties to WikiLeaks.
Read: Is WikiLeaks a Russian front?
It’s still not clear what Mueller thinks Stone may have lied about in his closed-door interview with the House Intelligence Committee last year. Asked for comment, Stone’s lawyer, Grant Smith, forwarded a letter he’d sent to the outgoing Republican chairman, Devin Nunes, on Thursday. “Mr. Stone’s testimony provided during the interview was forthcoming, truthful, and wholly consistent with his many detailed public statements on the matters being investigated,” Smith wrote. “Mr. Stone never had advance knowledge of the source or content of any releases by WikiLeaks or other organizations, and no person can prove, or truthfully claim, otherwise.”
The House panel, for its part, has homed in on at least one area of “deep concern” about Stone’s truthfulness: a supplemental statement Stone submitted weeks after his September 2017 testimony in which he identified a New York radio host named Randy Credico as his back channel to Assange. The supplemental statement, obtained by The Atlantic, is “one of the many areas where we have a deep concern that Mr. Stone was untruthful to our committee, especially in light of the new reports,” a committee aide told me earlier this month.
Read: The Trump campaign says exploiting hacked emails is free speech
In the supplemental statement, Stone insisted that he had merely asked Credico, an acquaintance of many years, to “confirm” Assange’s claim in June 2016 that WikiLeaks had Clinton emails that were “pending publication.” Credico had discussed Assange and WikiLeaks with Stone that summer, telling Stone in late August that Assange had “kryptonite on Hillary.” And in October, Credico predicted damaging email dumps while in London trying unsuccessfully to meet with Assange as a potential guest on his show. But there is no evidence that Credico was Stone’s original source of information about WikiLeaks’ plans.
The House Intelligence Committee’s concerns about Stone’s veracity have arisen as a result of a document drafted by Mueller’s team and made public recently by another Stone associate and right-wing writer, Jerome Corsi, which indicates that Stone’s supplemental testimony didn’t tell the full story. The document, called a draft statement of the offense, outlines charges Mueller is prepared to bring against Corsi for allegedly lying to investigators about his role as a back-channel communicator between Stone and WikiLeaks.