- The Washington Times - Monday, November 11, 2019

Longtime GOP political operative Roger Stone’s defense team will point the blame at Democratic lawmakers this week in his perjury trial that stems from the Trump-Russia collusion probe.

Mr. Stone, 67, faces 20 years in prison if convicted of lying to Congress, obstruction and witness tampering to thwart the House Intelligence Committee’s Russia probe in 2017.

His defense attorney, Bruce Rogow, said Congress misled Mr. Stone, not the other way around. He said lawmakers told him the hearing was about Russian election meddling instead of his dealings with WikiLeaks, which published Russia-hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.

“The fact that this was a Russia investigation colored his answers. He goes into this bare naked,” Mr. Rogow said in opening arguments last week. “So his answers reflect that, with a state of mind created by the committee and what its criteria were.”

Federal prosecutors charged Mr. Stone for lying about his attempts to connect with WikiLeaks and its controversial founder Julian Assange about the release of hacked emails to hurt Mrs. Clinton’s campaign.

The trial will resume Tuesday after a hiatus for Veterans Day. Jurors will hear from a few more prosecution witnesses, including former Trump campaign deputy Rick Gates before the defense counsel presents their case.

It is a bold strategy for the defense to argue that Congress sought to trick Mr. Stone, rather than portraying his misstatements as forgetfulness or lack of attention to detail.

Although the Intelligence Committee was led by Republicans at the time of Mr. Stone’s appearance, the trial has focused on questions asked by then-ranking member Rep. Adam Schiff, California Democrat.

Mr. Schiff is now the committee’s chairman and leading the impeachment inquiry against President Trump, as that political drama plays out mere blocks from the courthouse where Mr. Stone stands trial.

Prosecutors accuse Mr. Stone of lying when asked by Mr. Schiff if he exchanged any text messages or emails related to Wikileaks. Mr. Stone responded that he did not.

Mr. Rogow claimed his client’s willingness to testify publicly and without a subpoena is proof he intended to be straight with Congress.

“His lawyers wrote to the committee volunteering to appear,” he said. “That’s not the way people go into a committee meeting, certainly not if they are intending to lie.”

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