Prosecutors: Roger Stone lied because ‘truth looked bad’ for Donald Trump

Clay Curtis
November 8, 2019

FILE - Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, leaves the Federal District Court after a hearing in Washington, May 23, 2018.

The prosecution in the trial of Roger Stone on Wednesday painted President Donald Trump's longtime adviser as a liar in a criminal case stemming from former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe that detailed Russian meddling in the 2016 US election.

Opening statements by prosecutors and Stone's lawyers in the trial could come as soon as Wednesday afternoon.

Stone thought the House Intelligence Committee, which questioned him for more than 2 1/2 hours in September of 2017, was asking about Russian interference in the presidential election and any USA political-party involvement in that meddling, since that was the stated scope of its investigation, Rogow told the jury.

Stone has been a friend and ally of Trump for 40 years.

"You might ask, why didn't Stone just tell the truth?" prosecutor Aaron Zelinsky asked jurors.

Zelinsky began the trial by taking jurors through a narrative of skulduggery and shady characters.

The prosecutor says Stone "wanted to hide what he had done because the truth looked bad".

"The truth looked bad for the Trump campaign, and the truth looked bad for Donald Trump", Zelinsky added.

Steve Bannon, who like Paul Manafort led the Trump campaign for a time, will be among the government's witnesses, Zelinsky told the panel, as will Credico. " 'I know how to win, but it ain't pretty, ' " Zelinsky read, showing jurors the email on their computer screens and suggesting that Stone was alluding to WikiLeaks.

"This case is not about who hacked the Democratic National Committee servers".

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Stone is on trial for lying to the House Intelligence Committee about his communications with WikiLeaks while it published thousands of documents the USA believes Russian Federation stole from Democratic Party computers to tip the election away from Hillary Clinton.

The trial comes at a time of increasing political peril for the president, who faces possible impeachment for tying $391 million in aid for Ukraine to its willingness to investigate a Trump rival, 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, and his son Hunter's work for a Ukrainian energy company.

The defense's opening statement was to follow.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson spent all day Tuesday and part of Wednesday weeding through potential jurors. They appeared to undercut Rogow's claim that Stone didn't try to contact WikiLeaks and its principal Julian Assange through intermediaries Credico and conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi. Stone", Rogow said. "He went without a subpoena.

Zelinsky said that in July 2016, Stone spoke by phone with then-candidate Trump for about 10 minutes.

"Word is, friend in embassy plans two more dumps", at least one of which would be "very damaging", Corsi said, according to Zelinsky.

Zelinsky said Stone lied in sworn testimony to Representative Adam Schiff, now chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, about emails to third parties related to Assange.

Not only did Stone know about the email hack of Hillary Clinton's campaign chair, John Podesta, but also he reportedly, on multiple occasions, told senior Trump campaign officials about the information in WikiLeaks' possession.

Jackson, a 2011 Obama appointee, has rejected Stone's claims that he was selectively prosecuted, saying that he had only himself to blame for coming under investigation for his alleged lies after taking public credit for the WikiLeaks release and suggesting that he had inside information about more to come. Stone, 19-cr-18, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).

Stone's indictment in January was an offshoot of Mueller's investigation. Mueller's investigation, which documented Russian efforts to boost Trump's candidacy through a campaign of hacking and propaganda, led to criminal charges against several Trump advisers and campaign aides. Stone and his former business partner Manafort were the only two from this group not to plead guilty.

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