Right wing politico Roger Stone is now on trial charged with lying to Congress. Prosecutors claim the former advisor to President Donald Trump gave false testimony in a House Intelligence Committee hearing held September of 2017. Stone’s crimes allegedly occurred as he was questioned about Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Stone was indicted in January, the last man charged in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
Defense attorney Bruce Rogow argued this was not his client’s intent. “All the texts and words are there, but what’s not there is Mr. Stone’s state of mind,” Rogow stated. “The essence of our opening statement is that there was no corrupt intent in whatever was said or done by Mr. Stone.” Then continued, “His lawyers wrote to the committee volunteering to appear, he was not subpoenaed. That’s not the way people go to a committee meeting, certainly not if they’re intending to lie.” Rogow concluded, “We think the evidence will show that there was no corrupt intent in whatever was said or done by Mr. Stone.”
The prosecution contends that Stone used intermediaries to glean secret intelligence ahead of time from WikiLeaks. More specifically that Stone tried to contact Wikileaks founder Julian Assange through a pair of intermediaries. Those being conservative author slash conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi plus radio host and activist Randy Credico. Soon after the Democratic National Committee disclosed they were hacked in June 2016, Stone “started bragging that he was in contact with WikiLeaks.”
A report issued by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper’s office in January 2017 implicated the non-profit organization. The document dubbed Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections reported that WikiLeaks played a major part in spreading that highly sensitive pirated content.
U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson has cautioned counsel against making the case about Mueller and contents of his report. Rogow would acknowledge as much, “We are not here to try Russian collusion,” he declared, “What we’re talking about here is his belief, his state of mind, that the Russians did not collude with him or the campaign.”
Ex-FBI agent Michelle Taylor was the first witness called by prosecutors. Also a member of that Mueller-led special counsel, she chronicled in extensive detail communication Stone subsequently had with Credico and Corsi as well as Trump. Taylor would then continue her testimony Thursday morning.
Prosecutor Aaron Zelinsky told the jury on Wednesday that Stone “wanted to hide what he had done because the truth looked bad.” And lied about his efforts to help “longtime friend” Trump win “because the truth looked bad. The truth looked bad for the Trump campaign and the truth looked bad for Donald Trump.”
Zelinsky added that former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon will testify on behalf of the government. Along with Rick Gates, once deputy to disgraced Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort. The defense did not say if Stone will take the stand.
Stone has pleaded not guilty to charges of obstructing justice, witness tampering and lying.The 67 year old Republican rabble rouser looking at decades behind bars if he is convicted on all counts.
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