By mid-June 2016, it was publicly known that the DNC’s computer systems had been hacked by Russian government agents. The following month, when WikiLeaks released a trove of DNC emails, it was clear the material had come from the Russians. Yet, according to Mr. Stone’s indictment, the response of the Trump campaign was to contact Mr. Stone and ask him to find out what other damaging material WikiLeaks might have and when it would be released.
“A senior Trump Campaign official was directed to contact STONE about any additional releases and what other damaging information [WikiLeaks] had regarding the Clinton campaign,” reads the indictment. Mr. Stone proceeded to do just that, reaching out to WikiLeaks through two intermediaries and reporting back to Trump aides. Following a WikiLeaks release of emails stolen from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta on Oct. 7, 2016, Mr. Stone received a text from “an associate of the high-ranking Trump Campaign official” saying “well done.” That high-ranking official was almost certainly Stephen K. Bannon; the indictment leaves open the possibility his dealings with Mr. Stone were “directed” by Mr. Trump.
Perhaps there was nothing illegal in the campaign’s actions, though we won’t know that until Mr. Mueller completes his work. But, as in the case of Mr. Trump’s secret pursuit of a real estate deal in Russia while running for president, his campaign’s dealings with Mr. Stone evince gross moral corruption. If it had nothing to do with the hack of the DNC, the Trump campaign should have done its best to steer clear of an attack on the U.S. political system by a hostile foreign power. Instead, at the least, it secretly sought to learn more about it so as to make the best use of it.
Days after Mr. Bannon was directed to contact Mr. Stone, on July 27, 2016, Mr. Trump publicly called on Russia to find and release Hillary Clinton’s “missing” emails. We now know the Russian hackers attempted to break into Ms. Clinton’s server the same day. On Aug. 2, according to the indictment, Mr. Stone was advised by one of the WikiLeaks intermediaries that the campaign should start suggesting that Ms. Clinton was unwell, because that would be a “focus” of the “next dump.” Mr. Trump gave a speech on Aug. 15 charging that Ms. Clinton “lacks the mental and physical stamina” to fight the Islamic State.
Earlier this week we pointed out that, if Mr. Trump did not secretly cut a business deal with the regime of Vladimir Putin while praising him on the campaign trail, it was not for lack of trying. Mr. Mueller’s latest indictment shows that if the president’s campaign did not conspire with WikiLeaks, an organization designated as a hostile intelligence service by the Senate Intelligence Committee, it was not out of scruple.