Longtime Trump associate Roger Stone was found guilty of lying to Congress and other charges in a case that has shed new light on President Donald Trump’s anticipation of the release of stolen Democratic emails in 2016.
Stone, a political provocateur, was found guilty of all seven counts brought by the Justice Department, a victory for special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. Stone was found guilty on five counts of lying to Congress, one of witness tampering, and one of obstructing a Congressional committee proceeding.
The verdict marks a stunning conclusion to one of the highest profile prosecutions to emerge from special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation — a case that began with one of Trump’s most vocal supporters arrested during a pre-dawn raid as the special counsel’s investigation wound down, and that since then has gradually revealed new information about the Trump campaign’s positive reception to foreign interference in the 2016 election.
According to prosecutors, Stone failed to turn over documents to Congress in 2017, showing he had sought to reach WikiLeaks the previous year, and lied about five facts, obscuring his attempt to use intermediaries to get information that could help then-candidate Trump in the election against Hillary Clinton.
Stone’s trial at a federal courthouse in Washington revealed the extent to which the longtime Trump friend was directly in touch with Trump and other campaign officials about Wikileaks’ 2016 release of hacked Democratic emails.
Prosecutors argued that witness testimony, along with Stone’s texts, emails and phone records, showed Stone’s interest in reaching WikiLeaks about the hacked documents it had, and speaking to the Trump campaign and even Trump himself about it. Prosecutors said Stone lied to Congress out of a desire to protect Trump.
“It would look really bad for his longtime associate Donald Trump” if the truth had come out,” Prosecutor Jonathan Kravis said in his closing argument on Wednesday.
Stone’s defense team countered that Stone didn’t have a motive to protect Trump when he testified to the House in 2017, because Trump already had won the election and become President.
The jury of nine women and three men deliberated for seven hours over two days before convicting Mr. Stone, a 40-year friend of Mr. Trump and well-known political provocateur.
In one of the trial’s most revealing moments, Rick Gates, Mr. Trump’s deputy campaign chairman, recounted a July 31, 2016, phone call between Mr. Stone and Mr. Trump, just days after WikiLeaks had released a trove of emails embarrassing the Clinton campaign. As soon as he hung up with Mr. Stone, Mr. Gates testified, Mr. Trump declared that “more information” was coming, an apparent reference to future releases from WikiLeaks that would rattle his political rival.
Mr. Gates’s testimony called into question Mr. Trump’s answers to queries from the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, who conducted a criminal inquiry into Russia’s election interference. Mr. Trump, who agreed to respond to questions only in writing rather than sit for an interview, said he could not recall the specifics of any of 21 conversations he had with Mr. Stone in the six months before the election. Mr. Stone told House investigators that he never discussed his conversations with an intermediary to WikiLeaks with anyone involved in the Trump campaign.
Mr. Stone, 67, joins a notable list of former Trump aides convicted of lying to federal authorities. It includes Mr. Gates; Michael T. Flynn, the former national security adviser; Michael D. Cohen, the president’s longtime personal lawyer and fixer, and George Papadopoulos, a former Trump campaign aide. And his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who was also Mr. Stone’s former partner in a political consulting firm, was convicted of a string of financial crimes and is serving a seven-and-a-half-year prison term.
Although the most serious charge against Mr. Stone carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, his sentence will almost certainly be much lighter. Working against him could be his multiple run-ins earlier this year with Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who is overseeing the case and will preside over sentencing, set for Feb. 6. After a series of infractions, including posting a photo of the judge with an image of cross-hairs next to her head on Instagram in February, she banned him from social media.
Now the questions are: 1) Will Trump pardon him? 2)If not, will Stone become a source of info about Trump?
What we're witnessing today – the House impeachment hearing, Roger Stone's conviction, new press reports of presidential abuses – is a fight against modern information warfare, rampant corruption, and metastasizing treachery. It's a fight for secure elections, truth and justice.
— Evan McMullin (@EvanMcMullin) November 15, 2019
Worth nothing: one of the counts Roger Stone was just convicted on is WITNESS TAMPERING.
Which the President just committed in real time two hours ago.
— Elizabeth C. McLaughlin (@ECMcLaughlin) November 15, 2019
In the middle of his impeachment inquiry, the President calls for the imprisonment of his political opponents and members of the law enforcement and intelligence community. https://t.co/EW9YcCmnd9
— Jon Favreau (@jonfavs) November 15, 2019
Decision by the jury to find Roger Stone GUILTY on all counts shows no one is above the law, including all the President's Men. Also shows that prosecutors take very seriously the crimes of:
Lying to Congress
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) November 15, 2019
Watching a defeated and weepy Roger Stone leaving court shows how just beneath the surface of these blustery bullies is a very scared little person.
— Jane Lynch (@janemarielynch) November 15, 2019
When does Trump pardon him? https://t.co/Rhuh6psgeL
— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) November 15, 2019
Roger Stone was found guilty on charges stemming from his false claim of a Wikileaks backchannel. In reality, he had none. Let that sink in: the top proponents of Trump-Russia-Wikileaks "collusion" are now pretending that this verdict doesn't undermine their conspiracy theory.
— Aaron Maté (@aaronjmate) November 15, 2019
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.