WASHINGTON, D. C.: Donald Trump’s campaign viewed Roger Stone as an “access point” to WikiLeaks and tried to use him to get advanced word about hacked emails damaging to Hillary Clinton, a former top presidential adviser testified Friday.
In reluctant testimony, former Trump campaign chief executive officer Steve Bannon told a federal court that Stone, on trial for lying to Congress and witness tampering, had boasted about his ties to WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange, alerting them to pending new batches of damaging emails.
“The campaign had no official access to WikiLeaks or to Julian Assange,” Bannon told the court. “But Roger would be considered if we needed an access point.”
It was the first time that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign acknowledged in court that they had actively sought material from WikiLeaks, which released emails that US intelligence agencies determined had been hacked by the Russian government in order to damage Clinton.
The White House had no immediate comment.
Stone, a colorful political operative and Trump ally, is charged with witness tampering and lying to Congress about his attempts to contacts WikiLeaks about the damaging material during the 2016 presidential campaign.
While Stone repeatedly “implied that he had a connection with WikiLeaks,” he never stated it directly, Bannon said.
The campaign took Stone’s boasts seriously enough to follow up, asking why expected information about Clinton wasn’t revealed when Assange held a press conference in October 2016.
Bannon, who testified in response to a subpoena, did not say anything about Trump and said Stone had not been sent by anyone on the campaign to talk to Assange. AP