The defense has rested in the Roger Stone case, and closing arguments are scheduled to be heard on Nov. 13. The political strategist and consultant known for being vocal and flamboyant surprisingly didn’t even take the stand in his own defense. But perhaps that was for the better, since he may be his own worst enemy, judging by his past boasts and claims.
On Nov. 12, President Donald Trump’s former deputy campaign manager, Richard Gates, testified that Stone had indeed been giving the campaign updates on WikiLeaks and its plan to unveil emails taken from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and Hillary Clinton. Stone, charged with lying to Congress for claiming he was not an intermediary between the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks, pleaded not guilty.
“If their decision is made on the basis of facts or evidence, then nothing will happen,” Stone said previously. “There is no evidence and no person that could honestly testify that I received anything, including allegedly hacked emails from the Russians, Guccifer 2.0, Julian Assange, WikiLeaks, Jerry Corsi, or anyone else, and passed it onto Donald Trump, the Trump campaign, or anyone else.”
Gates, who is facing up to ten years in prison after making a plea deal for various fraud charges, said Stone’s main point of contact with the campaign was former campaign manager Paul Manafort, who also has been sentenced to serve seven years in prison over fraud charges.
According to Gates, Stone was informing the campaign about WikiLeaks’ plans as far back as April 2016, several months before the DNC even announced it had been hacked. Stone did not help his situation by speaking out after his indictment, making multiple media appearances, and boasting on social media, which eventually led to a gag order issued by U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson to prevent him from talking about the case.
Here are just some of the statements made by Stone in 2016 that may have damaged his case:
- Aug. 12: Regarding the Clinton emails, Stone said, “In fact, I know [Assange] has them, and I believe he will expose the American people to this information in the next 90 days.”
- Aug. 15: Stone told World Net Daily that he communicated with Assange who had material related to the Clinton Foundation that would be forthcoming.
- Aug. 16: While talking to radio host Alex Jones, Stone claimed to have “back-channel communications” with Assange and that the whistleblower had “political dynamite” on the Clintons.
- Aug. 18: During an interview with C-SPAN, Stone claimed to have been in touch with Assange “through an intermediary – somebody who is a mutual friend.” However, WikiLeaks later tweeted, “We are happy to hear true information from everyone. But so far, we have not heard from Mr. Stone.”
- Oct. 1: Stone tweeted: “Wednesday @HillaryClinton is done. #Wikileaks.”
- Oct. 12: Stone told a local Florida radio station about his back-channel communication with Assange through a mutual friend. “That friend travels back and forth from the United States to London and we talk. I had dinner with him last Monday.”
The above are just a few of the claims made that could hurt Stone’s court case. As time progressed, he became more careful about his words, but the damage already had been done. Although it is common for a defendant not to take the stand during a criminal trial, Stone’s unusually outspoken nature made his refusal a surprise. Instead of depending on Stone’s verbal testimony, his legal team played a partial recording from his testimony before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in 2017. The defense argued that Stone’s statements about not colluding with intermediaries to WikiLeaks were true, even if he may have intended to lie.
In a motion for acquittal filed on Nov. 12, the defense team argued:
“In order for Roger Stone to be convicted of a false statement, the statement must be proven false. It does not matter if a defendant believes he is lying. Right or wrong, he gets the benefit of the truthful answer or a poorly worded question.”
The prosecution claimed that Stone used both radio host Randy Credico and author Jerome Corsi as intermediaries. The defense argued that the government did not prove such links, “[r]egardless of Roger Stone’s belief about whether either were intermediaries[.]”
The defense further stated:
“There is no such crime as attempted false statement.
“Credico did not pass messages to Assange, even if Stone wished that Credico did, and even if Credico falsely reported to Stone that he had.”
Were Stone’s statements all bluster, hoping he could stir up fear and angst among the Democrats? If they were, then they worked, but perhaps a little too well. Only time, and a verdict, will tell.
Read more from Kelli Ballard.