Friday was another interesting day in the ongoing investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller of possible collaboration by Donald Trump’s inner circle in Russian efforts to attack the 2016 U.S. elections.
In a court filing to the U.S. District Court in Washington, DC, prosecutors from Mueller’s office noted they have evidence that Roger Stone, who was indicted last month for obstruction and lying to Congress, communicated with WikiLeaks about hacked Democratic Party emails during the 2016 presidential campaign.
The acknowledgment by the special counsel is the result of search warrants in a related case against Russian intelligence officers indicted for hacking the Democratic emails.
The court filing notes (emphasis mine):
As alleged in the Netyksho indictment, in 2016, the Netyksho defendants stole documents from the DNC, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and the Clinton campaign chairman. Those defendants then released many of the stolen documents, including through a website maintained by Organization 1. In the course of investigating that activity, the government obtained and executed dozens of search warrants on various accounts used to facilitate the transfer of stolen documents for release, as well as to discuss the timing and promotion of their release. Several of those search warrants were executed on accounts that contained Stone’s communications with Guccifer 2.0 and with Organization 1. Evidence obtained from those search warrants resulted in the allegations that the Netyksho defendants hacked and stole documents for release through intermediaries, including Organization 1, and that Stone lied to a congressional committee investigating, among other things, the activities of Organization 1 regarding those stolen documents. The relevant search warrants, which are being produced to the defendant in discovery in this case, are discussed further in a sealed addendum to this filing.
Organization 1 is WikiLeaks, and Guccifer 2.0 is believed to be a Russian intelligence operator.
Stone downplayed the significance of the filing, saying that he already had acknowledged having brief communications with WikiLeaks and Guccifer 2.0, but that he never had advance notice the hacked emails would be released, nor did he coordinate that release, Reuters reported.
On Instagram, Stone responded to a CNN story about the filing by calling the news a “Total con job and old recycled smear.” He added, “There is no evidence whatsoever that I knew about the source or content of the WikiLeaks disclosures or that I received any allegedly hacked or allegedly stolen material…”
Also on Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson issued a limited gag order on Stone, his attorneys, Mueller, and witnesses in the case. “Counsel for the parties and the witnesses must refrain from making statements to the media or in public settings that pose a substantial likelihood of material prejudice to this case,” the order stated. Parties also must refrain from making public statements about the case in the vicinity of the DC courthouse, the judge ordered.
Judge Berman Jackson noted that “this order may be amended in the future.”
“I am pleased that the judge’s order leaves my First Amendment right to defend myself in public intact,” Stone told Politico.