WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump said Thursday he did not direct anyone in his campaign to ask Roger Stone to contact WikiLeaks during the 2016 presidential campaign.
“No, I didn’t. I never did,” Trump told The New York Times in an Oval Office interview when asked if he spoke with Stone about WikiLeaks.
He repeated the same concerning whether he directed anyone on the campaign to reach out to Stone about contacting WikiLeaks, which released emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta during the campaign.
“Never did,” said Trump.
“I’ve always liked — I like Roger, he’s a character,” Trump said of Stone, who worked on the Trump campaign through August 2015 but remained an informal adviser to the real estate mogul.
Speculation has mounted over the past week about who Stone spoke with on the campaign about WikiLeaks, which the special counsel’s office alleges received pilfered emails from Russian government hackers.
In an indictment against Stone unsealed Jan. 25, prosecutors allege after WikiLeaks published DNC emails July 22, 2016, “a senior Trump Campaign official was directed to contact STONE about any additional releases and what other damaging information” on the Clinton campaign.
The indictment says Stone later told members of the Trump campaign about “potential future releases” of Clinton-related emails.
The indictment does not allege Stone was directed by someone on the campaign to inquire about WikiLeaks’ plans. He is also not accused of contacting or conspiring with WikiLeaks to release Clinton documents.
Instead, he is charged with five counts of making false statements to Congress about his discussions with Trump campaign officials and other associates about WikiLeaks. He is also charged with witness tampering and obstruction of an official proceeding, related to the House Intelligence Committee’s Russia investigation.
Stone, 66, has also denied speaking with Trump about WikiLeaks.
The longtime GOP operative openly sought information from WikiLeaks about its impending releases. He tweeted multiple times in early October 2016 he expected WikiLeaks to release emails that would damage the Clinton campaign.
Stone says he did not know the source or specific content of the emails WikiLeaks published Oct. 7, 2016. He has, however, claimed he received vague tips about the timing and significance of the Clinton-related materials from Randy Credico, a left-wing activist who is close friends with an attorney for WikiLeaks.
Stone and Credico exchanged text messages in the lead-up to the WikiLeaks release that show Credico provided some insight into WikiLeaks’ plans that proved to be accurate.
“Julian Assange has kryptonite on Hillary,” Credico wrote in one text to Stone on Aug. 27, 2016.