- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s office has reportedly questioned former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon about comments Roger Stone may have privately said during the 2016 U.S. presidential race regarding WikiLeaks and its release of stolen emails.

Mr. Bannon was asked about Mr. Stone, a Republican strategist and former adviser to President Trump’s election campaign, while being interviewed Friday by members of the special counsel’s office investigating the 2016 race and alleged Russian interference, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.

The head of the Trump campaign during the race’s final months, Mr. Bannon was questioned by investigators about private comments Mr. Stone allegedly made prior to WikiLeaks releasing emails belonging to John Podesta, the chairman of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton’s rival campaign, The Post reported.

Investigators asked Mr. Bannon specifically about Mr. Stone’s “interactions with the campaign and about instances in which Stone was reported to have made private comments that matched his public declarations of having knowledge of WikiLeaks’s plans,” The Post reported, citing multiple anonymous sources familiar with the matter.

“Mueller’s team has been very professional and courteous. Out of respect for the process, I will not discuss my interviews with them, but people shouldn’t believe everything they read,” Mr. Bannon said in a statement, The Post reported.

“There are no such communications, and if Bannon says there are he would be dissembling,” Mr. Stone told the newspaper.

Mr. Stone was less dignified with his response on social media, accusing Mr. Bannon in an Instagram post Tuesday evening of being a “bloated alcoholic” who “tried to stab [Mr. Trump] in the back and now speaks to rallies no one attends.”

Russian state-sponsored hackers obtained Mr. Podesta’s emails as part of a Kremlin-authorized interference campaign, according to U.S. officials, and the special counsel’s office is probing the release of his messages and other leaked Democratic material as part of the government’s ongoing investigation into Moscow’s involvement in the race and related matters.

Mr. Stone made repeated public comments touting WikiLeaks in the weeks and days before the website started publishing Mr. Podesta’s stolen emails, and multiple witnesses previously contacted by the special counsel’s office indicated that investigators appeared particularly interested in whether the former Trump campaign adviser conspired with the anti-secrecy group on their release.

WikiLeaks began publishing Mr. Podesta’s emails in waves starting Oct. 7, 2016, beginning with an initial document dump that happened within an hour of audio emerging of Mr. Trump infamously bragging about grabbing women by their genitals.

“On Oct. 7, the ‘Access Hollywood’ tape comes out. One hour later, WikiLeaks starts dropping my emails,” Mr. Podesta previously told NBC. “One could say that those things might not have been a coincidence.”

A member of the Trump campaign through 2015, Mr. Stone said in a statement Wednesday that he had “no advance knowledge about the acquisition and publication” of Mr. Podesta’s personal emails.

“What I am guilty of is using publicly available information and a solid tip to bluff, posture, hype and punk the Democrats on Twitter. This is called politics. It’s not illegal,” Mr. Stone said.

A spokesperson for the special counsel’s office declined to comment on Mr. Bannon’s interview, The Post reported.

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