WASHINGTON, D.C. — One of the witnesses in a case against Roger Stone, a former senior campaign aide to President Donald Trump, has confirmed the information in Stone’s federal indictment during an interview Tuesday with ThinkProgress.
The admission by conservative media personality James Corsi came as Stone pleaded not guilty in a federal courtroom in D.C. on Tuesday to charges he lied to Congress and tampered with witnesses to hide alleged collusions with Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election.
“Everything I see in that [Stone] indictment is true and in agreement with what I recall, is consistent with what I’ve testified,” Corsi said in a phone interview.
“Stone may have a different recollection,” he continued. “I’m not trying to make this a debate with Roger, because unless someone has a recording of those calls, and I certainly don’t, I can’t prove beyond any doubt [his version of the story].”
Federal agents arrested Stone on Friday in a dramatic pre-dawn raid on his Fort Lauderdale, Florida, home. The 24-page indictment against Stone alleges that he lied to cover up his communications in 2016 with two men he hoped would put him in touch with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. At the time, Wikileaks was about to publish emails Russia stole from the Hillary Clinton campaign in what the U.S. Intelligence Community believes was an effort by the Kremlin to hurt Clinton and throw the election for Trump.
The indictment does not identify the two men Stone made contact with, but they’re believed to be conservative media personalities Jerome R. Corsi and Randolph A. Credico. Corsi confirmed that he is one of the men during his interview with ThinkProgress.
Corsi was critical of the idea that Assange might have coordinated with Stone or anyone else in the Trump campaign in publishing the hacked Clinton campaign emails.
“The assumption that you could go to Assange and that he was going to tell you what he had, or share with you, or allow you to coordinate, is again not based on an understanding of Assange,” Corsi said. “[Assange] had the goods, and he was going to release them for his benefit, whatever he calculated … He wasn’t going to release [the emails] on your instructions or for your benefit.”
Stone faces one count of obstructing a proceeding, five counts of lying to Congress, and one count of witness tampering. Wearing a dark blue single-breasted suit and a purplish-blue tie, Stone sat subdued at a table between his attorneys.
A judge in Florida released Stone on a $250,000 bond shortly after his arrest. He was arraigned on Tuesday in D.C., where the case will move forward.
Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson accepted paperwork allowing Stone’s two Florida lawyers, Robert Buschel and Grant J. Smith, appear in D.C. court just hours before the hearing after rejecting it the night before. They were joined at the defense table by D.C. attorney L. Peter Farkas.
Assistant United States Attorney Nicholas Miranda, of the District of Columbia, spoke for the government at the hearing, which lasted less than half an hour. Attorneys with the Special Counsel’s Office were also present. Bushel entered the not guilty plea on Stone’s behalf after waiving a public reading of the charges. The prosecution and defense agreed to a protective order relating to discovery and classified the case as “complex.”
Robinson imposed similar conditions for Stone’s release to those put in place Friday in Florida. He can travel only between Florida, D.C., and New York. He also agreed not to contact any other witnesses in the case.
“I feel fine,” Stone told reporters as he exited the courtroom. Outside the courthouse, police kept the media and members of the public at bay as someone blasted the Beatles song “Back in the U.S.S.R.” With his attorneys, Stone silently pushed through a thick scrum of photographers, protesters, and counter-protesters and got into a black SUV.
Corsi’s attorney, Larry Klayman, attended the hearing and told ThinkProgress he was “observing the dynamics.” Asked afterwards if he had any thoughts, Klayman opined, “I think Stone’s lawyers made a mistake agreeing to make the case complicated. That gives prosecutors time to go through everything in his home.”
Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating Russia’s election interference efforts and whether Moscow had any help from within the Trump campaign. The Stone indictment is the clearest indication yet that senior campaign officials had inside knowledge of Russia’s efforts.
Stone was one of Trump’s closest campaign advisors before he made a dramatic exit from the campaign in August 2015 — those involved disagree over whether he was fired or quit. But he continued to support the campaign, both in the press and as an unofficial advisor with the then-candidate Trump’s ear.
It was a return to the limelight for Stone, a larger-than-life figure known for his flamboyant sense of fashion, his swinger lifestyle, and his open embrace of the political dark arts. The longtime D.C. strategist and lobbyist got his start on the Nixon campaign before working for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush.
Several years ago, he memorialized the 37th president with a back tattoo of Nixon’s face, and he’s fond of throwing his arms up in a Nixonesque salute (he flashed the infamous double victory signs after his recent arrest). “It’s better to be infamous than never famous,” one of Stone’s many aphorisms goes.
Even some of Trump’s most ardent defenders, like former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R), emphasized the seriousness of the allegations against Stone.
“Listen, I think if he decides to go to trial, he’s in very, very grave danger,” Christie, a former federal prosecutor, told ABC News on Sunday.