Rick Gates testimony suggests Trump lied when claiming he never talked with Roger Stone about WikiLeaks
Prosecutors in Trump ally Roger Stone's federal trial closed their presentation of evidence today with testimony from Trump campaign staffer and Paul Manafort co-conspirator Rick Gates. Gates testified that then-campaign head Paul Manafort asked him to maintain contact with Roger Stone on potential WikiLeaks disclosures (that is, on WikiLeaks' release of Democratic documents obtained by Russian intelligence agents in their campaign to damage candidate Hillary Clinton), with Manafort making it clear to Gates that he would be updating Trump with what Gates learned.
Gates also testified on ”brainstorming sessions" within the Trump campaign to strategize how to best use an upcoming WikiLeaks document release. And prosecutors closed Gates' testimony with his recounting of the moments after a phone call between Donald Trump and Roger Stone: After ending the phone call with Stone, Trump "indicated more information would be coming" from WikiLeaks.
Gates' testimony makes it absolutely clear that Donald Trump lied in his own testimony to special counsel Robert Mueller, during Mueller's investigation of Russian election hacking and the Trump campaign's ties to that hacking. Trump testified in written responses to Mueller that he did not "recall being aware of Mr. Stone having discussed WikiLeaks" with members of his campaign; Gates, on the other hand, told the court that Trump himself had spoken with Stone about WikiLeaks.
Gates' testimony is also consistent with that of other witnesses. Campaign CEO Stephen Bannon told the jury last week that Stone was considered by the campaign to be an "access point" to WikiLeaks; once-ally Randy Credico testified that Stone pressured him to lie to federal investigators about Stone's efforts to coordinate between WikiLeaks and the Trump campaign, as Stone himself had done.
Prosecutors’ case against Roger Stone was never in doubt. Stone was charged with lying to Congress and to law enforcement about his WikiLeaks efforts, claiming he had no evidence to turn over regarding such contacts; Stone's own documents, obtained in search warrants, prove that he was lying. And Stone's defense is putting up only a token resistance; they are expected to open and close their own brief arguments tomorrow.
Instead, Stone is clearly banking on a Trump pardon. Stone did his part, obstructing the Mueller investigation as Manafort did and hiding Trump's own direct efforts to coordinate his campaign with the releases of Russian-hacked information. Stone expects Trump to use his presidential powers to return the favor.