- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 29, 2020

FBI documents released late Tuesday revealed longtime Trump ally Roger Stone communicated with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange before the 2016 election, but they did not offer evidence the two had conspired to release emails hacked from the Democratic Party.

The documents were released in response to a lawsuit by The Associated Press and other media outlets.

Stone was convicted last year of lying to Congress about his efforts to contact Mr. Assange to learn about the emails, which were stolen from President Trump’s 2016 rival, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

A federal judge sentenced Stone to more than three years in prison, but he is awaiting a date to report amid concerns about his age and the coronavirus pandemic that has spread throughout some federal prisons.

Although the documents did not show Stone conspired with Mr. Assange, they do highlight his role as an intermediary between the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks. Campaign officials were eager to capitalize on WikiLeaks’ releases to give Mr. Trump an edge over Mrs. Clinton.

In October 2016, Stone sent a direct message to Mr. Assange through WikiLeaks’ Twitter account, according to the documents. He asked WikiLeaks to lay off the public criticism of him.

“Since I was all over national TV, cable and print defending WikiLeaks and Assange against the claim that you are Russian agents and debunking the false charges of sexual assault as trumped up bs you may want to reexamine the strategy of attacking me- cordially R,” the message said referring to a sexual assault investigation into Mr. Assange in Sweden that has since been dropped.

The WikiLeaks account responded less than an hour later: “We appreciate that. However, the false claims of association are being used by the democrats to undermine the impact of our publications. Don’t go there if you don’t want us to correct you.”

In June 2017, as concerns mounted about the release of the hacked emails, Stone sought to reassure Mr. Assange they wouldn’t face scrutiny from U.S. officials over the hacked emails.

Stone, in a direct message on Twitter, said the issue was “still nonsense” and “as a journalist, it doesn’t matter where you get the information only that it is accurate and authentic.”

“If the US government moves on you I will bring down the entire house of cards,” Stone wrote, according to the FBI documents.

“With the trumped-up sexual assault charges dropped I don’t know of any crime you need to be pardoned for — best regards. R,” he added, again appearing to refer to the Swedish sexual assault probe.

“Between CIA and DoJ they’re doing quite a lot. On the DoJ side that’s coming most strongly from those obsessed with taking down Trump trying to squeeze us into a deal,” Mr. Assange responded.

Stone wrote back that he was doing everything possible to “address the issues at the highest level of Government.”

In a statement to the AP, Stone said the communications do not show evidence of a crime.

“I have no trepidation about their release as they confirm there was no illegal activity and certainly no Russian collusion by me during the 2016 election,” the statement said. “There is, to this day, no evidence that I had or knew about the source or content of the WikiLeaks disclosures prior to their public release.”

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