Mueller Turns His Focus to Longtime Trump Adviser Roger Stone
(Bloomberg) -- Special Counsel Robert Mueller appears to be turning his focus to President Donald Trump’s longtime adviser Roger Stone, bringing in a string of Stone’s associates in recent weeks for questioning about his activities during the 2016 campaign.
Mueller issued a subpoena last week to Jason Sullivan, a former social media aide and assistant to Stone, for documents and to testify before a grand jury, according to Knut Johnson, Sullivan’s lawyer. Sullivan, whose work focuses on identifying social media influencers, was paid in July and August 2016 by the Committee to Restore America’s Greatness, a Super PAC established by Stone, Johnson said. The subpoena was reported earlier Wednesday by Reuters.
Mueller has been requesting interviews with former employees and friends of Stone in recent weeks, asking them about Stone’s ties to Russia and Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, which released thousands of stolen emails from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign. In March, Mueller interviewed former Stone employee Sam Nunberg, and earlier this month spoke with Michael Caputo, a longtime friend of Stone.
Stone, 65, has had a decades-long relationship with Trump and first began encouraging him to run for president in 1988. When Trump considered running ahead of the 2012 and 2016 elections, Stone was one of his first consultants. Trump campaign officials have downplayed his role in the 2016 campaign. When Donald Trump Jr. was asked by congressional investigators about Stone, he said he was unaware of any actual role Stone played after the first few weeks.
Stone has been under suspicion by Democrats in Congress because of proclamations he made about his connections to WikiLeaks and vague predictions he made that coincided with the release of hacked Democratic emails
Stone has said he had no involvement in collusion with the Russian state related to the 2016 election.
“I reiterate that I had no advance notice of the source, content, or exact timing of the WikiLeaks disclosures regarding Hillary or the DNC,” Stone said in a written statement Tuesday. “I received nothing, including allegedly hacked emails from anyone (including WikiLeaks or the Russians) and passed no such material on to Donald Trump or the Trump campaign.”
Stone, asked if he has detected Mueller focusing increasingly on him and those around him, replied in a text message “that appears to be the case.”
On Wednesday, Stone said that Sullivan “is a very bright guy who worked for me for two months as a social media consultant,” adding that his work was “perfectly legal.”
“While he did have access to my Twitter feed, all relevant material has already been turned over to the House Intelligence Committee and I would assume is fully available to the special counsel anyway," he said.
Nunberg has said he was asked by Mueller to turn over years of emails with Stone and was asked about his relationship with Assange during grand jury testimony. Nunberg has said in media interviews that Stone told him he had dinner with Assange, a comment Stone later said was a joke.
“In the end, Roger will be vindicated,” said Nunberg. “I’m glad that the Special Counsel is trying to connect dots between Julian Assange and Roger Stone. They’ll find there are no dots to connect.”
Despite Stone’s decades-long relationship with Trump, Donald Trump Jr. downplayed any role Stone may have played in the presidential campaign during a closed-door interview in September 2017 with the Senate Judiciary Committee. The panel released the transcript Wednesday.
Trump Jr. told the committee he didn’t recall having a conversation with Stone “basically past the first week or two of our campaign,” and that “I didn’t really deal with Roger too much.”
Asked who in the campaign did, Trump Jr. replied, “I don’t know if anyone did.” He added, "I don’t know that he had an actual role in our campaign.” He said he didn’t know if Stone communicated directly with his father.
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