Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort is “in an amazingly good mood” and is still “entirely loyal” to the president, despite having been informed by special counsel Robert Mueller that he will be indicted, according to his former business partner Roger Stone.
Manafort “does not want to go down in history as John Dean,” Stone said last Friday, referring to the former White House lawyer who revealed Richard Nixon’s involvement in the Watergate coverup to federal prosecutors and Congress. “And — and I don’t think he will.”
Stone, who was for years Manafort’s partner in a prominent Washington lobbying firm, now defunct, and spoke to him last week, made the comments to Yahoo News during a combative interview in which he vowed to “clear the air” about his own conduct in the Russia affair during a closed-door appearance before the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday morning.
In a prepared statement to be delivered to the committee, Stone adamantly denies any collusion with Russian entities during last year’s presidential election and accuses intelligence committee members of “cowardice” for insisting that he testify behind closed doors rather than in a public session.
While acknowledging that “some may label me a dirty trickster,” Stone says in the statement: “There is one ‘trick’ that is not in my bag and that is treason.”
Stone is expected to be grilled about multiple tweets during last year’s presidential campaign suggesting that, at critical moments, he had inside knowledge of plans by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to release damaging emails about Hillary Clinton and her campaign chairman John Podesta. U.S. intelligence officials say the source of the emails was Russian intelligence services.
Among those tweets were one on Aug. 21 in which Stone wrote “Trust me., it will soon the [sic] Podesta’s time in the barrel.”
Then, just a few days before the WikiLeaks release of Podesta’s emails on Oct. 7, Stone tweeted:
“Wednesday@HillaryClinton is done. #Wikileaks.”
That was followed on Oct. 3 by this: “I have total confidence that @WikiLeaks and my hero Julian Assange will educate the American people soon.”
Then, on Oct. 5, Stone tweeted: “Libs thinking Assange will stand down are wishful thinking. Payload coming.”
Stone said he will tell the intelligence committee he knew all this because WikiLeaks itself had tweeted on July 21 it has the “goods on Hillary.”
Stone says he then reached out to an intermediary — a journalist, he claims — who has a “relationship” with Assange and who confirmed to him that the promised “bombshell” was coming.
“I ask a friend who is a journalist who I know is — has interviewed Assange, has a relationship with him,” Stone said. “And he comes back and says, ‘Yes. It’s confirmed. They have this material. And they’ll probably release it in October,’ which is what I said,” Stone told Yahoo News.
But, despite once vowing to answer “every question” the committee asks him, Stone says he won’t divulge the identity of the journalist who was his intermediary with Assange.
Here is his exchange with Yahoo News on that question:
Yahoo News: Who’s the journalist?
Stone: I’m not gonna say.
Yahoo News: You’re gonna get asked.
Stone: Good. I will decline to answer.
Yahoo News: On what grounds?
Stone: On the grounds that I’m not there under a subpoena. And when something is off the record with a reporter, it’s off the record. He told me this off the record. It’s a two-way street. I don’t burn reporters with whom I’ve made an agreement.
Stone said in the interview he reached out to his old friend Manafort last week after reports surfaced that the FBI had picked the lock of his house during a pre-dawn, unannounced search of his house as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
Manafort sounded “very combative,” Stone said, and told him he believes Mueller’s team is “guilty of multiple violations of the law and due process in their efforts to investigate him.” Manafort was “outraged” by the search — during which FBI agents went into his closet and took photographs of “all his custom-made Italian suits,” Stone said. Manafort viewed it as an “intimidation tactic” to get him to turn on Trump.
But, Stone added, “the notion that they could go to Manafort, for example, and say ‘all right, Manafort, we’ve got you on money laundering, tax evasion, whatever. But if you’ll just tell us that you were colluding with the Russians, and Trump knew everything, we’ll let you walk.’ That’s not going to work. That might work with a drug dealer. I don’t think it’ll work in this case. … He still maintains that he’s broken no laws, that there is no Russian collusion. And I believe him.”
Stone said he also asked Manafort if the reports were true that he has been told by Mueller’s prosecutors that he will be indicted.
“He said, ‘Yes.’ I said, ‘Do you know when?’ He said, ‘No.’ I said, ‘Do you know for what?’ He said, ‘No.’ Pretty straightforward.”
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