Roger Stone, a longtime confidante of Donald Trump’s, confirmed Wednesday night that he has had “back-channel communication” with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
But Stone denied to local Miami TV station WFOR that he had advanced knowledge that WikiLeaks would publish the hacked emails of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta.
“I have not talked to him,” Stone said, referring to Assange, though he acknowledged they had a mutual friend who traveled between London and the United States with whom Stone met on Monday.
Speaking to reporters on Clinton’s campaign plane Tuesday, Podesta claimed that Stone knew about the upcoming email leaks, citing an August tweet from Stone that read: “Trust me, it will soon the Podesta’s time in the barrel.”
Trust me, it will soon the Podesta’s time in the barrel. #CrookedHillary
— Roger Stone (@RogerJStoneJr) August 21, 2016
That knowledge would have given the Trump ally, and perhaps Trump himself, an advantage in responding to thousands of pages of email, including some of the content of Hillary Clinton’s paid private speeches.
WikiLeaks first published collection of Podesta’s email came Friday, the same day that the Washington Post and NBC News published videotape of Donald Trump bragging in 2005 that he could kiss and grope women without their consent due to his celebrity status.
Podesta called that timing “awfully curious evidence,” though he acknowledged it was “circumstantial.”
On Tuesday night, Stone called Podesta’s allegations of unfair play “categorically false” and “without foundation.” On Wednesday, he told WFOR that “I bet there is no evidence of a Russian conspiracy to fix the election.” He also said, referring to Assange: “He’s not a Russian agent.”
Last week, a joint letter from the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Homeland Security formally accused the Russian government of directing hacks against U.S. political organizations, including Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
On Wednesday, anonymous sources told the Wall Street Journal that the FBI suspected Russia was also involved in the hacking of Podesta’s email, and of a Florida contractor who had access to voters’ personal data.