The trial of Donald Trump's political adviser and friend, Roger Stone, is scheduled to open on Tuesday, November 5, on charges that he lied to former special counsel Robert Mueller about his contacts with WikiLeaks, according to The South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
But according to a report on Thursday by Mother Jones, Stone's trial could prove to be a "nightmare" for Trump, revealing that he knew much more about Stone's contacts with the Russia-linked WikiLeaks than Trump acknowledged in his written testimony for Mueller.
In his written answers to questions from Mueller, Trump said "I do not recall" discussing WikiLeaks with Stone, and that he did not "recall being aware" that Stone had discussed WikiLeaks with any member of the Trump campaign. But according to the analysis by Mother Jones Washington Bureau Chief David Corn, Trump may not have been fully forthcoming with Mueller.
Evidence presented in Stone's upcoming trial may reveal that Trump was indeed aware that Stone was in contact with WikiLeaks, and that Stone was relaying information about upcoming WikiLeaks releases of stolen Democratic National Committee documents to the Trump campaign, according to Corn.
In Mueller's final report on his investigation, which remains available online via The New York Times, the special counsel states that the Democratic Party documents and Hillary Clinton campaign emails revealed by WikiLeaks were provided by the "Russian Federation's Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff," better known as the GRU.
WikiLeaks was working directly with the Russian intelligence agency, which hacked the Democratic computer servers, to release the documents, Mueller said in his report.
One heavily redacted paragraph of the Mueller report — on page 18 of Volume 2 — describes a small group of Trump campaign officials, including Trump himself, campaign chief Paul Manafort, and Manafort's associate, Rick Gates. The group expressed intense interest in the WikiLeaks releases, according to Mueller. But the name of fourth person mentioned in that paragraph is redacted.
The report describes a phone call between Trump and the unknown person. Immediately after that call, Trump told Gates "that more releases of damaging information would be coming," according to the Mueller report.
The person whose name is redacted is highly likely to be Stone, according to the analysis by Corn.
In fact, in a February court filing by Mueller that is separate from his report, the special counsel draws a direct link between Stone, the WikiLeaks document releases, and the GRU.
If Trump knew, or even merely believed, that Stone was communicating with WikiLeaks during the 2016 campaign, that would mean that Trump believed that his "campaign had a back-channel contact to WikiLeaks as it participated in the Russian operation," Corn wrote. In other words, Trump was aware of "collusion" with Russia by his campaign, per Corn.
Gates is expected to testify in the Stone trial, and to reveal the identity of the redacted name in the Mueller report. The reason given for the redactions was possible "harm to ongoing matter," which is likely a reference to Stone's upcoming trial, Corn writes.