Jurors in the trial of longtime Donald Trump friend and adviser Roger Stone on Thursday saw text messages from Stone in which he allegedly threatened a potential witness against him. In one message, Stone told the witness, talk radio host Randy Credico, “prepare to die.” According to a Reuters report, Stone also told Credico that if he wins, he is “a rat.”
Stone is being tried in a Washington, D.C., federal court on charges of lying to Congress and witness tampering. Evidence presented in the trial Wednesday has already shown that Trump himself may have known more about his 2016 campaign’s connection to Wikileaks than he told special counsel Robert Mueller.
WikiLeaks released thousands of internal Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton campaign emails during the 2016 presidential campaign. The emails had been stolen and provided to WikiLeaks by computer hackers working for Russia’s military intelligence agency, the GRU.
The WikiLeaks connection is also at the core of the charges against Stone. In audio recordings of his congressional testimony played by prosecutors for the jury on Thursday, Stone claims that Credico was an “intermediary” between himself and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, whom the latter had interviewed on his radio show.
But according to the charges against him, that was a lie. As reported by Mother Jones, Stone had already communicated with Assange through a different “intermediary” — conspiracy theorist and author Jerome Corsi — by the time Credico interviewed Assange.
In other texts, Stone threatened to harm Credico’s dog, and suggested that Credico follow the example of “Frank Pentangeli,” according to the Reuters report. In the film The Godfather Part II, the Pentangeli character is a fictional mobster who provides information to Congress only to recant his testimony under pressure.
Ultimately, the Pentangeli character commits suicide at the suggestion of his former mob bosses, to take the “honorable” way out of his predicament.
On Wednesday, lead prosecutor Aaron Zelinsky told jurors that he would demonstrate how Stone “straight up lied” to Congress about his contacts with WikiLeaks, “because the truth looked bad for Donald Trump.”
Zelinsky also revealed that prosecutors would call a surprise witness — former Trump campaign chief and later White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, according to a report by The Guardian.
While the trial has already pointed directly to Trump, Bannon’s testimony “sets the stage for the most high-profile and bruising scrutiny yet of the inner workings of the 2016 Trump campaign,” possibly exceeding even Mueller’s investigation into the campaign’s Russian connections, according to The Guardian.