|Trump and Stone - both working for Russia?|
If Donald Trump has been having bad days as his approval ratings have plunged to only 34% and 71% of Americans say his wall is not worth the damage of the government shutdown, today is likely far worse with the indictment of Roger Stone, the likely go between between Russian intelligence operatives, Wikileaks, and the Trump campaign, by a federal grand jury. If there was a conspiracy with Putin's Russia, Stone could be the keystone in bringing the details into view. And that's without considering what the new investigations of Deutsche Bank and Russian money laundering to perhaps benefit Trump will reveal. Stone was arrested by the FBI at 6:00 am this morning at his home. The New York Times looks at this stunning development in the Russiagate probe (the indictment can be viewed here). Expect Trump to rant and do something to try to distract media coverage. Here are article highlights:
Roger J. Stone Jr., a longtime informal adviser to
PresidentTrump who has spent decades plying the dark arts of scandal-mongering and dirty tricks to help influence American political campaigns, was indicted Friday in the special counsel investigation.Mr. Stone was charged with seven counts, including obstruction of an official proceeding, making false statements and witness tampering, according to the special counsel’s office.
Stone, a self-described dirty trickster who began his career as a campaign aide for Richard M. Nixon and has a tattoo of Nixon on his back, has long maintained that he had no connection to Russia’s attempts to disrupt the 2016 presidential election. He sometimes seemed to taunt American law enforcement agencies, daring them to find hard evidence to link him to the Russian meddling campaign.
[T]he special counsel’s investigators spent months encircling Mr. Stone, renewing scrutiny about his role during the 2016 presidential race. Investigators interviewed former Trump campaign advisers and several of his associates about both about Mr. Stone’s fund-raising during the campaign and his contacts with WikiLeaks, one of the organizations that made thousands of Democratic emails public in the months before the election.
Three senior Trump campaign officials have told Mr. Mueller’s team that Mr. Stone created the impression that he was a conduit for inside information from WikiLeaks, according to people familiar with their witness interviews. One of them told investigators that Mr. Stone not only seemed to predict WikiLeaks’ actions, but also that he took credit afterward for the timing of its disclosures that damaged Hillary Clinton’s candidacy.
In social media posts and numerous interviews before the 2016 election, Mr. Stone indicated that he had advance knowledge that a trove of information damaging to Mrs. Clinton’s campaign might be about to spill into public, and even suggested that he had personally spoken to the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange. . . . in the weeks before the election, Mr. Stone was messaging on Twitter with Guccifer 2.0, a pseudonym used by one or more operatives in the Russian intelligence scheme to steal the emails and funnel them to WikiLeaks.
The tumultuous relationship between Mr. Stone and Mr. Trump goes back decades, with Mr. Stone acting as an informal adviser to Mr. Trump as he considered running for president several times. When Mr. Trump formally announced during the spring of 2015 that he was running for president, Mr. Stone was one of the first members of the team, but within months, he had a public dispute with Mr. Trump and left the campaign. The two men have remained close, though, speaking often by telephone.