Weeks after Robert Mueller was appointed special counsel in the Russia investigation, Roger Stone, a confidant of President Donald Trump, reassured WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in a Twitter message that if prosecutors came after him, “I will bring down the entire house of cards,” according to FBI documents made public Tuesday.
Those records also include mentions of "Israel", "Jerusalem", "October surprise", and a "cabinet minister" who would supposedly meet Trump, although the redacted documents offer no clear details.
The documents — FBI affidavits submitted to obtain search warrants in the criminal investigation into Stone — were released following a court case brought by The Associated Press and other media organizations.
They were made public as Stone, convicted last year in Mueller’s investigation into ties between Russia and the Trump campaign, awaits a date to surrender to a federal prison system that has grappled with outbreaks of the coronavirus.
The documents include these key quotes:
One entry dated “on or about August 12, 2016,” reads: “[NAME REDACTED] messaged STONE, ‘Roger, hello from Jerusalem. Any progress? He is going to be defeated [sic] unless we intervene. We have critical intell. The key is in your hands! Back in the US next week. How is your Pneumonia? Thank you. [REDACTED] STONE replied, ‘I am well. Matters complicated. Pondering. R., [REDACTED] Thank You.’”
“On August 20, 2016, CORSI told STONE that they needed to meet with [NAME REDACTED] to determine ‘what if anything Israel plans to do in Oct.’" CORSI refers to Jerome Corsi, the right-wing American author, political commentator, and conspiracy theorist.
“On or about.June 21, 2016, [NAME REDACTED] messaged STONE, "RS: Secret I Cabinet Minister [NAME REDACTED] in NYC Sat. June 25. Available for DJT meeting [REDACTED]. " According to publicly-availabe information, during this time [NAME REDACTED] was a Minister without portfolio in the [REDACTED] cabinet dealing with issues concerning defense and foreign affairs.”
It's not clear from the newly released court documents if the minister mentioned is indeed Israeli, whether the "October surprise" has anything to do with Israel and who initiated the contact with Stone and Trump – Israel or another person and of what nationality.
The meeting with the minister did not apparently take place: "On or about June 25, 2016, [NAME REDACTED] messaged Stone, "Roger, Minister left. Sends greetings from PM. 5 When am I meeting DJT? Should I stay or leave Sunday as planned? Hope you are well. [REDACTED]"
“On or about June 28, 2016, [NAME REDACTED] messaged STONE, “RETURNING TO DC AFTER URGENT CONSULTATIONS WITH PM IN ROME.MUST MEET WITH YOU WED. EVE AND WITH DJ TRUMP THURSDAY IN NYC.”
Netanyahu was indeed in Italy at the end of June 2016 on an official state visit - but it's unclear if the quotes in the document are related to the Israeli PM.
Assange and Stone
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The records primarily reveal the extent of communications between Stone and Julian Assange, whose anti-secrecy website published Democratic emails hacked by Russians during the 2016 presidential election, and underscore efforts by Trump allies to gain insight about the release of information they expected would embarrass Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton.
In a June 2017 Twitter direct message cited in the records, Stone reassured Assange that the issue was “still nonsense” and said “as a journalist it doesn’t matter where you get information only that it is accurate and authentic.”
He cited as an example the 1971 Supreme Court ruling that facilitated the publishing by newspapers of the Pentagon Papers, classified government documents about the Vietnam War.
“If the US government moves on you I will bring down the entire house of cards,” Stone wrote, according to a transcript of the message cited in the search warrant affidavit. “With the trumped-up sexual assault charges dropped I don’t know of any crime you need to be pardoned for — best regards. R.”
Stone was likely referring to a sexual assault investigation dropped by Swedish authorities. Assange, who at the time was holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, was charged last year with a series of crimes by the U.S. Justice Department, including Espionage Act violations for allegedly directing former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning in one of the largest compromises of classified information in U.S. history.
According to the documents, Assange, who is imprisoned in London and is fighting his extradition to the United States, responded to Stone’s 2017 Twitter message by saying: “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.”
Stone replied that he was doing everything possible to “address the issues at the highest level of Government.”
The records illustrate the Trump campaign’s curiosity about what information WikiLeaks was going to make public. Former White House adviser Steve Bannon told Mueller’s team under questioning that he had asked Stone about WikiLeaks because he had heard that Stone had a channel to Assange, and he was hoping for more releases of damaging information.
Mueller’s investigation identified significant contact during the 2016 campaign between Trump associates and Russians, but did not allege a criminal conspiracy to tip the outcome of the presidential election.
In a statement Tuesday, Stone acknowledged that the search warrant affidavits contain private communication, but insisted that they “prove no crimes.”
“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,” Stone 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.”
Stone was among six associates of Trump charged in Mueller’s investigation. He was convicted last year of lying to House lawmakers, tampering with a witness and obstructing Congress’ own Russia probe.
A judge in February sentenced Stone to 40 months in prison in a case that exposed fissures inside the Justice Department — the entire trial team quit the case amid a dispute over the recommended punishment — and between Trump and Attorney General William Barr, who said the president’s tweets about ongoing cases made his job “impossible.”