The first full day in the trial of Donald Trump’s longtime friend and political adviser Roger Stone opened in dramatic fashion in a Washington, D.C., federal court on Wednesday, with prosecutors offering evidence that the president may have lied to special counsel Robert Mueller. Trump, in written answers to Mueller’s questions, told the special counsel that he did “not recall” discussing WikiLeaks with Stone.
But according to Assistant United States Attorney Aaron Zelinsky, Stone and Trump spoke on the phone twice on June 14, 2016. That was the same day that the Democratic National Committee revealed that its email servers had been infiltrated by Russian hackers, according to a Washington Post report.
June 14 was also just two days after WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange stated publicly that he was in possession of “upcoming leaks” of emails with damaging information on Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
Stone and Trump again spoke via phone on June 30, the day that “Guccifer 2.0” — the online alias used by hackers from Russia’s GRU intelligence agency — announced that “he” was the hacker who had staged a cyber-attack on Clinton.
Zelinsky also revealed, according to a Mother Jones report, that there was another suspect call between Stone and Trump on July 31, 2016. That date was nine days after WikiLeaks reportedly disrupted the then-upcoming Democratic National Convention by dumping thousands of hacked Clinton-related emails onto its site.
If indeed the Stone-Trump conversations were about the WikiLeaks releases of material hacked by Russia, as prosecutors believe, the president’s statement that he did “not recall” ever speaking to Stone about WikiLeaks would appear to be a lie.
Trump, in the past, has boasted that he possesses “one of the greatest memories of all time,” as HuffPost has reported.
Though Zelinsky acknowledged that investigators have no direct knowledge of what Trump and Stone discussed in the phone conversations, he also said that about an hour after hanging up with the president on July 31, Stone emailed an associate, Jerome Corsi. In that email, Stone instructed Corsi — a conspiracy theorist and author of several books attacking prominent Democrats — to travel to London, England.
At the time, Assange was living in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, seeking to avoid extradition to Sweden on rape charges. In the email, Stone instructed Corsi to “get to” Assange in London, according to Zelinsky’s opening statement.
Two days later, Zelinsky said, Corsi replied to Stone by email. Corsi allegedly told Stone that Assange planned two more “dumps” of Clinton documents, including one in October. The email dumps would have been “very damaging” to Clinton, according to Corsi’s email.
On October 7, 2016, WikiLeaks released a trove of stolen Clinton campaign internal emails. The release came just one hour after The Washington Post published the Access Hollywood tape, a recording on which Trump was reportedly heard making crude and sexist comments about women, and boasting that he likes to grab women by their private parts because “when you’re a star, they let you do it.”