Roger Stone, a longtime adviser to Donald Trump who finds himself at the center of the Russia investigation, has embarked on a series of interviews to promote a new book about how to win at life. Things are not going well.
On Tuesday afternoon, Stone went on MSNBC and was asked to explain two October 2016 tweets that strongly suggest he had foreknowledge WikiLeaks was about to publish emails stolen from Hillary Clinton campaign director John Podesta.
“You said on two occasions in October — the 3rd and the 5th — that WikiLeaks was going to go after Podesta. Then, two days later, the Podesta email is dumped,” host Andrea Mitchell said. “What did you know about that at the time?”
While Mitchell spoke, the two Stone tweets in question were displayed.
But instead of answering the question, Stone abruptly changed the topic to a tweet he posted in August about “Podesta’s time in the barrel,” and made a weak case that the tweet proves he wasn’t conspiring with Russian agents or WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
Stone argued it’s a mere coincidence that he was tweeting about “Podesta’s time in the barrel” weeks before WikiLeaks published Podesta’s stolen emails.
“I was referring to the Podesta brothers,” Stone said. “Their shady Russian business dealings hadn’t been fully reported… That is what I was predicting… so ‘time in the barrel’ refers specifically to public scrutiny.”
But even if Stone’s dubious explanation of the August 21 tweet is accepted, that doesn’t answer the question Mitchell asked about the ones he posted in October. And the two tweets Mitchell cited weren’t even the only ones from that period of time indicating Stone had foreknowledge that WikiLeaks was about to publish the Podesta emails — which, if true, suggests some coordination between the Trump camp and a website that Trump’s own intelligence officials have accused of serving as a cutout for Russian intelligence.
Less than a week before WikiLeaks published the first tranche of Podesta emails on October 7, 2016 — just hours after The Washington Post published a hot mic recording of Trump bragging about sexually assaulting women — Stone tweeted that “Wednesday@HillaryClinton is done. #Wikileaks.”
It’s hard to see how that tweet could be interpreted as being about the Podesta brothers’ business practices, or why Stone would tweet something like that if he didn’t have foreknowledge that WikiLeaks was in possession of stolen emails that the U.S. intelligence community has concluded were part of Russia’s pro-Trump propaganda campaign.
Stone’s claim about his tweets wasn’t the only head-scratcher he offered during the MSNBC interview. At another point, he claimed that he was not in touch during the campaign with any Russian agents — with one significant exception.
“I don’t buy into the premise that Guccifer [2.0] is indeed a Russian agent, I think that is unproved [sic],” Stone said.
Host Andrea Mitchell interjected to point out to Stone that Guccifer 2.0 has been identified as a Russian agent by Trump’s hand-picked CIA director-turned-secretary of state, Mike Pompeo.
“Our intelligence agencies has been politicized,” Stone said, adding that “there’s vigorous debate on it on the internet.”
STONE: I was not in touch with any Russian agents during the campaign, but I also don't believe that Guccifer 2.0 is really a Russian agent. There's no evidence.
ANDREA MITCHELL: Actually, Mike Pompeo is my source on that.
STONE: The intelligence agencies have been politicized! pic.twitter.com/ivMzELPyY4
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) May 8, 2018
On August, 17, 2016 — just four days before his “time in the barrel” tweet — Guccifer 2.0 and Stone exchanged Twitter direct messages, with Guccifer 2.0 telling Stone, “please tell me if i can help u anyhow. it would be a great pleasure to me.”
Stone’s MSNBC interview came a day after he went on CNN and brazenly lied about the contents of his August 21, 2016 tweet about “Podesta’s time in the barrel.”
Stone insisted that the tweet didn’t include an apostrophe — the implication being that he was talking about the Podesta brothers rather than John specifically. He kept up his gaslighting effort until host Chris Cuomo displaying an image of the tweet, demonstrating that Stone was lying.
Stone has made contradictory statements about his communications with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Though Stone has claimed on CNN that he “is not involved in any collusion, coordination, or conspiracy with the Russians, or anyone else, and there’s no evidence to the contrary,” he claimed to be in direct contact with Assange during the campaign. He refused to answer questions about his contacts with WikiLeaks during his testimony before the House Intelligence Committee last fall.