WikiLeaks denied federal charges unsealed Friday against Roger Stone indicate a covert back channel existed between the antisecrecy group and President Trump’s former election campaign adviser.
Referred to as “Organization 1” throughout the seven-count indictment charging Mr. Stone, Mr. Trump’s longtime confidant, WikiLeaks reacted to its unsealing on Twitter by asserting that federal prosecutors presented: “New evidence of no ‘back channel’ with WikiLeaks.”
“Roger Stone indictment proves what @WikiLeaks has always said,” reads another tweet shared by WikiLeaks. “Stone ran around trying to claim a ‘back channel’ to draw attention to himself.”
Mr. Stone, 66, was arrested hours earlier at his home in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on federal charges of obstruction, lying to Congress and witness tampering, making the former Trump campaign adviser the sixth member of the president’s campaign to be indicted as a result of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the 2016 race. He was released on a $250,000 bond later Friday morning and said he will plead not guilty when he is formally arraigned.
WikiLeaks published emails during the 2016 race damaging to Mr. Trump’s opponent, former Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, and Mr. Mueller’s office is investigating the circumstances surrounding the theft and disclosure of that material, among other matters, on behalf of the U.S. Department of Justice.
Russian military officials sourced the stolen emails published by WikiLeaks, including Democratic National Committee dumped in late July 2016, and messages belonging to John Podesta, the chairman of Mrs. Clinton’s campaign, leaked in the weeks prior to Mr. Trump’s victory that fall, according to U.S. intelligence officials.
Mr. Stone repeatedly touted WikiLeaks in the weeks between the DNC and Podesta leaks, including a new infamous Twitter post that seemingly predicted the latter. “Trust me, it will soon the Podesta’s time in the barrel,” Mr. Stone tweeted on Aug. 21, 2016.
Testifying before Congress in late 2017, Mr. Stone told members of the House Intelligence Committee that his references about WikiLeaks during the race referred exclusively to his contacts with an unnamed individual he described as a “go-between, as an intermediary, as a mutual friend” of Mr. Assange, the indictment noted. He later identified his source to Congress in a letter submitted through his lawyer as Randy Credico, an activist and radio host who has interviewed Mr. Assange, though Mr. Credico has denied acting as their intermediary.
“Back channel bs,” Mr. Credico wrote in a 2017 email to Mr. Stone cited by the special counsel’s office. “I have pieced it all together … so you may as well tell the truth that you had no back-channel or there’s the guy you were talking about early August.”
Indeed, the indictment alleges that Mr. Stone sought access to Mr. Assange in Aug. 2016 through Jerome Corsi — a conspiracy theorist and conservative author referred to as “Person 1” in the indictment — prior to attempting to create a cover story making Mr. Credico, referred to as “Person 2,” his link to the WikiLeaks publisher.
Mr. Stone “had directed Person 1—not Person 2—to contact the head of Organization 1,” Mr. Mueller wrote, albeit without disclosing those exchanges and others when asked by Congress.
Mr. Corsi, 72, previously said that he was able to “deduce” that WikiLeaks would publish emails belonging to Mrs. Clinton’s campaign manager, explaining: “I said, ‘I bet that’s what Assange is going to do because it’s what I would have done.”
WikiLeaks has “none whatsoever” connection to Mr. Corsi, a representative for the antisecrecy group told The Washington Times. Mr. Assange, 47, previously denied ties to Mr. Stone and asserted he was “trolling” Democrats.
“The document reflects existing reporting on Stone, Corsi & Credico’s attempts at braggadocio in response to WikiLeaks’ announcements,” WikiLeaks tweeted Friday.
Neither Mr. Stone, Mr. Corsi nor Mr. Credico immediately returned messages seeking comment.
Mr. Stone is currently a contributor for Infowars, a website published by controversial right-wing media personality Alex Jones. Mr. Corsi served as the D.C. bureau chief of Infowars prior to being terminated late last week.
• Andrew Blake can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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