Roger Stone, a longtime friend and former campaign adviser to President Donald Trump, released his opening statement to the public on Tuesday ahead of a closed hearing with the House Intelligence Committee.
“To be clear, I have never represented any Russian clients, have never been to Russia, and never had any communication with any Russians or individuals fronting for Russians, in connection with the 2016 presidential election,” he said in his testimony.
“As someone whose political activism was born from the anti-communism of Senator Barry Goldwater and President Ronald Reagan; and whose freedom seeking family members were mowed-down by Russian tanks on the streets of Budapest in 1956, I deeply resent any allegation that I would collude with the oppressive Russian state to affect the outcome of the 2016 presidential election,” he added.
Stone said the committee rejected his request for a public hearing and also rejected releasing the transcript of his testimony.
“What is it you fear? Why do you oppose transparency? What is it you don’t want the public to know?” he asked.
Stone spent a sizable amount of his testimony correcting what he called, “a number of falsehoods, misstatements, and misimpressions regarding allegations of collusion between Donald Trump, Trump associates, The Trump Campaign and the Russian state.”
He slammed a January 20, 2017, New York Times article that said intelligence services were in possession of emails, records of financial transactions, and transcripts of telephone intercepts that proved that he, Paul Manafort, and Carter Page colluded with the Russians for the benefit of Trump.
“So, where are these records? Can this Committee or our intelligence agencies produce them? I didn’t think so,” he said.
He said the hearings on Russian collusion were based on a “yet unproven allegation” that Russia is responsible for the hacking of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and Hillary Clinton aide John Podesta last year and the transfer of that information to WikiLeaks.
“No member of this Committee or intelligence agency can prove this assertion. Because the DNC steadfastly refused to allow the FBI to examine their computer servers, this entire claim is based on a self-serving report by CloudStrike, a forensic IT company retained by, directed, and paid for by the DNC,” he said.
Stone questioned the assessment of the intelligence community:
The mantra-like repetition of the claim by our vaunted 17 intelligence agencies that the ‘Russians’ colluded with the Trump campaign to affect the 2016 election, does not make it so.
These are, after all, the same entities who insisted the North Koreans would not be able to launch a viable rocket for 3-5 years, that insisted Saddam Hussein was in possession of WMD, that there was no torture at Abu Ghraib prison, and that the government had no bulk data collection program, until Edward Snowden revealed otherwise.
He listed possible motives for the intelligence agency to want to undermine Trump:
Our intelligence agencies have been politicized. I realize they are deeply unhappy over President Trump’s refusal to expand the proxy war in Syria and their failure to obtain the no-fly zone promised to them by Hillary Clinton, which would be an open invitation for World War III. That the intelligence agencies have continued to leak, to the detriment of President Trump, in violation of the law, is proof positive of their politicization.
Stone also addressed speculation that he knew about and predicted the hacking of Podesta’s email, stemming from an August 21, 2016, tweet where he said, “Trust me, it will soon be the Podesta’s time in the barrel. #CrookedHillary.”
He said at the time, Manafort, his boyhood friend and colleague, had just been forced to resign as Trump’s campaign chairman due to allegations regarding his business activities in Ukraine.
“I thought it manifestly unfair that John Podesta not be held to the same standard,” he said.
He said his tweet accurately predicted that the Podesta brothers’ business activities in Russia with oligarchs around Putin — “their uranium deal, their bank deal, and their Gazprom deal” — would come under public scrutiny.
He said his knowledge of the Podesta brothers’ business dealings in Russia was based on The Panama Papers, which were released in early 2016 and revealed that the Podestas had “extensive business dealings” in Russia.
He also said his tweet was based on “early August opposition research” provided to him by investigative journalist Dr. Jerome Corsi.
Stone cited a FactCheck.org news report that said, “There is nothing in the public record so far that proves Stone, a political operative and longtime Trump associate, predicted the Podesta email hack.”
Stone also addressed the timing of his tweet. He said on June 12, 2016, WikiLeaks’ publisher Julian Assange announced that he was in possession of Clinton DNC emails.
He said he asked a journalist who had previously interviewed Assange to find out if it was true, and he did, telling Stone that WikiLeaks would release the information in October. “This information proved to be correct,” Stone said.
Stone said the top Democrat on the committee, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) asserted during a public hearing on March 20 that he was in direct communication with Assange and WikiLeaks.
“The way the question was asked was clearly designed to cast me in a bad light. I have never said or written that I had any direct communication with Julian Assange and have always clarified in numerous interviews and speeches that my communication with WikiLeaks was through the aforementioned journalist. Again, Mr. Schiff is guilty of a false assertion,” Stone said.
“No, I do not have and I’ve never had any relationship with Russia or any Russian entity. You have falsely accused me without any evidence – you should apologize today,” Stone said.
Stone then explained his communication with a Twitter “persona” named Guccifer 2.0 who claimed to have hacked into the DNC’s servers.
“While some in the intelligence community have claimed that Guccifer 2.0 is a Russian cutout and that it is responsible for the hacking of the DNC servers, neither of these assertions can be proven by this Committee or the aforementioned intelligence community,” he said.
He said he had written an article about Guccifer 2.0 and reached out to the persona after his article published, despite Schiff creating “the false impression” he communicated with Guccifer 2.0 before writing his article. “Shame on you Mr. Schiff,” he said.
He included copies of his direct messages with Guccifer 2.0 along with his statement.
Stone said, in light of new reports, whether Guccifer 2.0 actually hacked the DNC “must be revisited,” citing an article by The Nation that reported the hack might have been a leak and that documents that suggested Guccifer was Russian might have been forged to implicate Russia in “an extensive hacking operation.”
“I am left to conclude that the President is right when he calls this Congressional investigation a, ‘witchhunt,'” he said.
But he said it was “clear” that a foreign nation was colluding with a presidential campaign: Ukraine with the Clinton campaign.
A January 11 Politico article reported that “Ukrainian government officials tried to help Hillary Clinton and undermine Trump by publicly questioning his fitness for office.”
“Therefore, I strongly urge this Committee to investigate the numerous, publicly documented contacts between Ukraine and the Clinton campaign, particularly in light of recent public reports that Ukraine is now providing sophisticated missile technology to North Korea. Please do not continue to perpetuate falsehoods here today,” Stone said.