Donald Trump’s longtime friend and political mentor Roger Stone, who is suspected of acting as a possible link between the 2016 Trump campaign and Wikileaks, said he will invoke his Fifth Amendment rights against incriminating himself. In doing so, Stone refused to testify to a Senate committee investigating possible collusion between Trump and Russia during his presidential campaign, according to a CNN report on Tuesday.
In a letter sent by Stone’s lawyer, Grant A. Smith, to Senate Judiciary Committee ranking Democrat Dianne Feinstein, Stone also refused to turn over documents relating to his contacts with Wikileaks and other matters central to the Russia investigation, likewise citing Fifth Amendment protections against self-incrimination.
While Trump had not yet commented publicly on Stone’s use of Fifth Amendment protections as of Tuesday afternoon, the president repeatedly said in previous statements that only people who are guilty of crimes would “take the Fifth,” the Washington Post noted.
“The mob takes the Fifth,” Trump said on the campaign trail, after a computer specialist who worked for Democrat Hillary Clinton’s took the Fifth during an investigation into Clinton’s private email server.
“If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?”
Before running for president, Trump also criticized the idea of taking the Fifth in 2014, commenting the following via his Twitter account.
“If you are innocent, do not remain silent. You look guilty as hell!”
The Fifth Amendment protects only the right against self-incrimination. It may not be invoked to protect against incrimination of others. But Stone said in an interview on Sunday that he would never testify against Trump, according to Fox News,
Stone’s public statements and Twitter messages during 2016 appear to indicate that he had advance knowledge that Wikileaks was in possession of the hacked Democratic emails. On August 3, just one day after Stone associate Jerome Corsi — a prominent author of right-wing conspiracy theory books and articles — told him in an email that Wikileaks would soon release “damaging information” about Clinton, Stone spoke to Trump by telephone, per the Inquisitr.
While Stone denies that the topic of Wikileaks was discussed in that phone conversation with Trump, the call came just one week after Trump issued a public plea for Russian hackers to “find” Clinton’s emails. Three weeks after the call with Trump, as New York Magazine recounts, Stone also posted messages on his since-suspended Twitter account, lavishing praise on Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and making negative comments about Hillary Clinton and her presidential campaign chairman, John Podesta.
“Trust me, it will soon [be] the Podesta’s time in the barrel. #CrookedHillary. I have total confidence that @wikileaks and my hero Julian Assange will educate the American people soon #LockHerUp. Payload coming. #Lockthemup.”
On October 7, Wikileaks began posting thousands of emails stolen from Podesta’s account by Russian hackers, as further recalled in a report from Politifact.