Ex-Trump adviser Roger Stone arrested as part of Mueller probe

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By Erik Ortiz

Roger Stone, a former adviser to President Donald Trump, was indicted by a federal grand jury as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe and arrested Friday on charges of obstruction, giving false statements and witness tampering.

Stone has been under the microscope over his alleged connection to WikiLeaks and hacked Democratic emails released by the site during the 2016 presidential campaign. He has repeatedly denied any collusion with WikiLeaks.

Stone, 66, was arrested in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and is expected to make an initial appearance at 11 a.m. Friday in a federal courthouse on the seven counts.

Stone was an official with the Trump campaign as of August 2015, although “maintained regular contact with and publicly supported” the campaign through the 2016 election, according to the grand jury indictment filed Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Around May 2016, the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee became aware that their computers had been compromised and hired a security company to identify the extent of the intrusions, according to the indictment. About a month later, the DNC announced that it had been hacked by Russian government cyber operations.

The indictment then described how an unnamed “Organization 1” — known publicly to be WikiLeaks — posted tens of thousands of documents stolen from the DNC and the personal email account of John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman.

In the summer of 2016, according to the indictment, Stone spoke with senior Trump campaign officials about WikiLeaks and “information it might have had that would be damaging to the Clinton Campaign.” Senior campaign officials later asked Stone about any future releases from WikiLeaks, the indictment alleges.

After WikiLeaks dumped stolen DNC documents in July, a senior Trump campaign official was directed to contact Stone about future releases on the Clinton campaign, the indictment alleges. Stone allegedly later told campaign officials about future WikiLeaks releases.

In early August of that year, Stone was claiming both publicly and privately to have communicated with Organization 1, while the organization made a public statement denying direct talks, the indictment said.

After one WikiLeaks release, an associate of a high-ranking Trump campaign official texted Stone “well done,” according to the indictment.

After the presidential election, Congress and the FBI announced investigations into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election, including Stone’s claimed contact with WikiLeaks. The indictment alleges that Stone obstructed the investigations by making multiple false statements to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence about his interactions with WikiLeaks and attempted to persuade a witness to provide false testimony and withhold information.

Stone said to an unidentified person in Dec. 2017 that that individual so do a “Frank Pentangeli” before the House committee to prevent contradicting Stone’s earlier testimony, according to the indictment. That’s a reference to a character in “The Godfather: Part II,” where a Congressional witness claims to not know information that he does in fact know.

Nearly a dozen Stone associates have been summoned by Mueller to appear before his Washington grand jury, sources told NBC News in November.

Trump in December tweeted his support of Stone, quoting his longtime ally as saying he would never testify against him.

Trump wrote that Stone was “essentially stating that he will not be forced by a rogue and out of control prosecutor to make up lies and stories about ‘President Trump.’ Nice to know that some people still have ‘guts!'”

Neither the White House nor Trump’s attorneys could immediately be reached for comment about the indictment against Stone.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

source: nbcnews.com