A day before House impeachment hearings drew President Trump’s Ukraine policies into the spotlight, prosecutors in the Roger Stone trial ended their case with testimony from former Trump Deputy Campaign Manager and convicted felon Rick Gates, who said that Stone served as a liaison between WikiLeaks and the campaign regarding hacked DNC emails, with the president’s knowledge.
In claims that in some cases contradicted Trump’s written testimony to former Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Gates recounted a summer 2016 phone call in which he heard Trump speak to trusted confidante Stone about the apparently stolen emails. Gates said that, upon hanging up, the president turned to him and stated, “More information would be coming.” WikiLeaks steadily released the emails, intending to make Hillary Clinton look bad, before the 2016 presidential election. The call that was witnessed by Gates, who was indicted along with his business partner, former Trump Campaign Manager Paul Manafort, for their business dealings with pro-Russian officials in Ukraine, occurred before the first email release.
Trump told investigators in the Mueller probe that he didn’t “recall discussing WikiLeaks with” Stone nor did he recollect his longtime adviser “having discussed WikiLeaks with my campaign.”
But prosecutors produced an email sent after the DNC hack in which Stone asked Gates, who struck a plea deal with prosecutors, for Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner’s contact information.
And Gates’s testimony Tuesday gibed with that of former White House adviser Steve Bannon, who earlier in the trial told jurors that Stone was the campaign’s “access point” to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who was holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London while he orchestrated the steady drip of emails leaked in the latter half of 2016 leading up to the election.
“The campaign had no official access to WikiLeaks or to Julian Assange, but Roger would be considered if we needed an access point – an access point because he had implied or told me that he had a relationship with WikiLeaks and Julian Assange,” said Bannon.
After Assange held “a dud” press conference in London, Bannon queried Stone in an Oct. 4, 2016 email in part “to find out why there is no announcement.”