“It’s a sunny place for shady people,” Stone said, quoting W. Somerset Maugham when asked by The New Yorker in 2008 why he lives in Miami. “I fit right in.”
The indictment unsealed on Friday offers the clearest link yet between the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks, and suggests that the Trump campaign might have known about additional stolen emails before they were released. In late July 2016, after WikiLeaks had released stolen Democratic emails, “a senior Trump campaign official was directed to contact Stone about any additional releases and what other damaging information” WikiLeaks had “regarding the Clinton campaign,” the indictment said.
The indictment also details the extent of Stone’s scheming in 2016 to find emails damaging to Clinton; how he communicated those plans to Trump’s campaign team; and his efforts to prevent a key witness from disclosing his efforts to the FBI, calling him a “rat.” His false statements to the House Intelligence Committee during his September 2017 interview about his ties to WikiLeaks comprised five of the seven counts against him.
Over the past two years, more and more evidence has emerged of Stone’s wrongdoing as details have been reported about his conversations with associates and interactions with WikiLeaks in 2016. But he has remained defiant, taking to Instagram regularly to proclaim his innocence, attacking critics, requesting donations for his legal defense fund, and consistently swearing that he would never turn on Trump. He stuck to that on Friday, telling professional conspiracy theorist Alex Jones in an interview shortly before his appearance outside the Fort Lauderdale, Florida, federal courthouse that he would never “bear false witness against the president,” and that the charges brought against him were “thin” and “bogus.”
Read: A brief history of Roger Stone
By the time Stone began seeking out more WikiLeaks releases in late July 2016, it had already been reported that Russia was behind the theft of Democratic emails released by WikiLeaks on the eve of the Democratic National Convention. Mueller, who has been investigating a potential conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia since May 2017, has not accused Stone of having any improper contacts with Russian nationals in pursuit of the Clinton emails. (Stone has long promoted the conspiracy theory, repeatedly debunked by the U.S. intelligence community, that the DNC hack was an inside job—effectively amplifying propaganda pushed by Russia to deflect blame for the election interference.) But like former National-Security Adviser Michael Flynn, the former Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos, and the former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen before him, Stone’s efforts to conceal his Russia-related activities during the 2016 election were his downfall.
In May 2016, Stone met with a Russian national, Henry Greenberg, on the promise of obtaining Clinton dirt, and exchanged private Twitter messages with a user known as Guccifer 2.0, who claimed to have “penetrated Clinton’s and other Democrats’ mail servers” but was later characterized by U.S. officials as a front for Russian military intelligence. Stone also said several times in 2016 that he was directly in touch with the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, but he began to walk those claims back in early 2017, drawing more scrutiny from congressional and federal investigators and ensnaring several of his contacts in the process.