Trump associate and campaign adjunct Roger Stone was found guilty on all seven counts relating to his efforts to connect the Trump campaign with WikiLeaks. He was convicted of obstruction, witness tampering, and lying to Congress.
Stone had been doing opposition research and digging for dirt on Democrats going back to the days of Richard Nixon. WikiLeaks ended up publishing thousands of emails from the Democratic National Committee that proved to be embarrassing to candidate Hillary Clinton.
Prosecutors alleged that Stone lied to the House Intelligence Committee in a September 2017 deposition when he told lawmakers that he had no records of communications with his intermediary with WikiLeaks or with the Trump campaign about WikiLeaks. Stone was also accused of lying about the identity of his intermediary.
“The evidence in this case will show that Roger Stone lied to the House Intelligence Committee because the truth looked bad — the truth looked bad for the Trump campaign and the truth looked bad for Donald Trump,” Aaron Zelinsky, a federal prosecutor said at the beginning of the trial last week.
Both Gates and Bannon testified that the campaign had considered Stone to be its link to WikiLeaks, which in the latter half of 2016 released troves of emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman. Gates also told the jury that he had been in a car with Trump in late July 2016 — shortly after WikiLeaks released its batch of hacked DNC emails — when he overheard a call between the candidate and Stone. After Trump hung up, Gates said that he “indicated that more information would be coming” from WikiLeaks.
That Democrats claim to be the aggrieved party in this matter is ludicrous. They would have done exactly the same thing that the Trump campaign did — try to get a heads up on what was in those emails to make political hay out of them. To do that, they needed a go-between with the hackers. Stone proved useful in that respect.
Politics is a dirty, slimy business with powerful people playing to win at all costs. Anything the Trump campaign did would have been mirrored by the Democrats — including getting advance knowledge of an opponent’s most private communications. As Stone’s lawyers pointed out, the defendant’s communications with both WikiLeaks and the Trump campaign were nothing special.
Stone’s legal team argued that the self-described trickster was not trying to deceive Congress but that he believed the WikiLeaks controversy did not fit the parameters of the House Intelligence Committee’s parameters of its investigation into Russia’s efforts to influence the election.
His lawyers also argued that there was nothing improper in the Trump campaign seeking out information about a rival.
“In fact, so much of this case deals with that question that you need to ask: So what?” Bruce Rogow, a member of the defense team, told the jury.
Stone got himself in legal trouble due to his personal actions not related to the campaign or Trump. The campaign didn’t tell him to lie to Congress or to obstruct the investigation. That’s all on Stone. And he will apparently pay for it with his freedom.