- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Roger Stone, a longtime confidant of President Trump, said there’s no evidence he colluded with Russia during last year’s campaign, but he did acknowledge that he got an indirect heads-up that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was sitting on politically explosive material.

“This is the new McCarthyism. You don’t like your opponent? Accuse them of being a traitor on the basis of nothing,” Mr. Stonesaid on the “Mack on Politics” podcast, produced in partnership with The Washington Times, posted Tuesday.

He said that the Russians were probably “eavesdropping” on political information coming from the Democrats during the campaign, but that hacking is “an international fact of life” and other countries probably were as well.

“Did it affect the election in any way? No, not whatsoever,” he said.

“Did they pass that information on to WikiLeaks, the Russians? Assange denies that — there’s no evidence of it,” he said.

John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, told reporters in October it was reasonable to conclude that Mr. Stone and the Trump campaign had advance warning about what Mr. Assange was going to do. WikiLeaks released internal emails from Mr. Podesta on a rolling basis during the closing stretch of the campaign.

“Completely and totally false,” Mr. Stone said.

Mr. Trump’s team has also denied that anyone on the campaign was in contact with Russians trying to meddle in the election.

Mr. Stone said he chuckles when he sees headlines saying he’s admitting he has a link to Mr. Assange because he says he’s previously announced it.

“Yes, I have a friend. I have a mutual friend with Assange. My mutual friend is a journalist — works in this country. No, I’m not going to tell you his name because he’ll get fired and I’m not interested in costing him his job,” he said.

“He communicated with Assange, and he came back from London and he told me Assange is in possession of political dynamite, and he’s going to begin dropping it, soon,’” he said.

“End of story. That’s it — no specificity,” he said. “They didn’t say, oh, they got the goods on this. John Podesta’s name never came up.”

“So, again: No, I did not know John Podesta’s email would be hacked prior to that happening. I had no such information,” he said.

Some Democrats have tried to use Mr. Stone’s tangential connections to Mr. Assange to argue that Mr. Trump or his campaign had gotten tipped off as to what WikiLeaks was doing.

Mr. Stone had tweeted in August: “Trust me, it will soon the Podesta’s time in the barrel. #CrookedHillary”

He said on the podcast that was a reference to a piece he wrote about Mr. Podesta and alleged money laundering involving the Clinton Foundation and the Russian mafia.

U.S. intelligence has concluded that Russia did try to interfere in the campaign, with the ultimate goal of boosting Mr. Trump and undermining Mrs. Clinton. Several congressional panels say they plan to continue investigating what happened.

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