Stone, whose relationship with the president dates to the 1980s, pleaded not guilty in January to a seven-count indictment charging him with obstruction, witness tampering and lying to the House Intelligence Committee as it investigated 2016 election interference by Russia, including hacked emails released by the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks.
Defense attorney Bruce Rogow told jurors that Stone had no reason to lie to protect Trump, who was by that time president.
“There was nothing illegal about the campaign being interested in information that WikiLeaks was going to be putting out,” Rogow said. “This is what happens in a campaign. They look for opposition information. It happens every day; it happens in every campaign.”
Stone’s attorneys have argued that he did not intend to lie to the committee but saw much of what they asked for as outside the scope of a probe of Russian interference.
Prosecutor Michael Marando called that claim “nonsense.” Stone himself, he noted, repeatedly mentioned WikiLeaks and the exposed emails in his opening statement to Hill investigators.
“That is an argument that you make up after the fact to cover your tracks,” Marando said.
Rogow told jurors that Stone’s House testimony was also irrelevant because “Stone didn’t know anything” — he “played the campaign” by pretending that he had access to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
But Kravis, the prosecutor, displayed excerpts and clips of Stone’s public and prescient boasts in August 2016 that he had inside information about Assange’s plans via a trusted “mutual friend,” or intermediary.
“Who asks for credit?” he asked. “Roger Stone. And who gets the credit? Roger Stone.”
He also showed jurors emails and text messages that Stone exchanged with two individuals from whom he repeatedly tried to get information, and his communications with top campaign officials as they raced to suss out WikiLeaks’ plans — conversations he told the committee did not exist.
“Roger Stone doesn’t get to choose which facts he thinks are important and lie about the rest of them. The committee is entitled to the truth of facts under investigation, and wherever the truth takes them,” Kravis said.
Because of Stone’s lies, Kravis said, the committee never interviewed Stone’s intermediaries or saw his correspondence, and their “report is not accurate” when it says there is no evidence that he got information from WikiLeaks.
Stone did not take the stand or offer witnesses in his defense. But jurors listened in court to 50 minutes of the House testimony that sparked the case. Rogow urged them to listen to the entire three-hour hearing themselves.
“This was not the voice of a man who was trying to lie, to mislead,” he argued.
His voice also came through in four days of government testimony featuring his profane boasts and apparent threats to Randy Credico, a talk-show host who could contradict Stone’s House testimony.
Credico, Kravis said, was the “one guy out there who can knock down this whole house of cards,” and Stone “knew that could never happen.”
Stone told Credico to act like a character from the film “Godfather II” who perjures himself before Congress to protect his mob boss. Once, Stone said that if Credico talked, he would “take that dog away from you,” a reference to his friend’s therapy pet.
“When Stone told Credico to do a ‘Frank Pentangeli,’ Credico full well understood that Stone was telling him to lie to the committee,” Kravis said, to “throw the committee off,” to say “you cannot recall events that actually transpired.”
Stone’s lawyer said in court Wednesday that those comments had to be understood in the context of a crude, roiling relationship: “These two guys tampered with one another for 20 years over all kinds of crazy things,” Rogow said.
Stone pointed to Credico as his sole WikiLeaks source in a letter to the House committee. He said to lawmakers that there were no records of any conversations the two had on the subject, that he never discussed his conversations with his WikiLeaks intermediary with the Trump campaign, and that he never asked Credico to get information for him.
Evidence shown at trial indicated that Stone asked Credico and a writer named Jerome Corsi to get information from Assange, that he did so over email and text, and that he spoke to Trump campaign officials multiple times about future WikiLeaks releases.
Stone had not forgotten any of that, prosecutors said, noting that he forwarded some of the relevant emails to his legal team and to Credico in 2018.
“Are these the words of a man who believes he told the truth?” Kravis asked the jury, and gave his answer: “Of course not.”
Stone was the last individual charged in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation, and his trial filled in blanks left by Mueller’s final report, with former deputy campaign chairman Rick Gates and former campaign chief Stephen K. Bannon taking the stand for the government.
The defendant has been forbidden from commenting on his case in public or from using major social media platforms under a gag order by the court, after Stone ignored warnings from U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson to refrain from comments that might jeopardize his right to a fair trial.