Emails published by the New York Times show Steve Bannon and Roger Stone discussing Wikileaks’ timed release of Clinton campaign emails in the immediate run-up to the 2016 election.
The exchange portrays Stone as frantically trying to get in touch with Bannon via Breitbart’s Washington editor Matthew Boyle.
“Assange — what’s he got? Hope it’s good,” Boyle wrote to Stone in an Oct. 3 email.
The same day, Stone replied, “It is. I’d tell Bannon but he doesn’t call me back.”
Boyle, who did not reply to a request for comment, forwarded the exchange to Bannon, writing, “well clearly he knows what Assange has. I’d say that’s important.”
The next day, Assange told reporters in a conference call that he intended to publish “significant material” over the month of October, some of which concerned the Presidential election.
Bannon emailed Stone that day, asking “What was that this morning???”
That exchange almost immediately devolved into conspiracy theorizing about the Clintons, with Bannon asking whether Assange “didn’t cut deal w/ clintons???” Stone replied by asking for cash, apparently from former Bannon financier Rebekah Mercer.
The conversations took place days before Wikileaks began publishing a trove of emails hacked from Clinton campaign manager John Podesta on Oct. 7.
Today’s New York Times story comes one day after Reuters reported that Bannon is under investigation by the Senate Intelligence Committee; a claim his lawyer strongly denied.
The New York Times story also reported that Mueller’s team is looking at whether Stone “engaged in witness tampering or obstruction of justice stemming from his dealings with Mr. Credico.”
When asked for comment, Stone directed TPM to a Daily Caller column posted an hour before the New York Times story was published called “The Treachery of Steve Bannon.” In the article, Stone repeated his claim that New York comedian Randy Credico was his conduit to Wikileaks.
“I had long predicted an October release based on Assange’s June 2016 CNN interview with Anderson Cooper in which he said he had a trove of documents on Hillary and would release them,” Stone wrote. “I had been told this would come in October for months by my source Randy Credico who I identified for the House Intelligence committee.”
Credico has strongly denied the accusation, and did so again in a bombastic, profanity-laden phone call with TPM.
“He’s never done anything for me except make my life miserable,” Credico said of Stone. “The situation that I’m in is that I helped this cocksucker Trump, who I hate more than anyone on the planet. I was a Jill Stein person.”
He said that while he had travelled to London in late September 2016 and briefly met with Assange, he had not received any information from him.
“I’m a spectator to Assange,” Credico added.
When asked about special counsel prosecutors looking into alleged obstruction of justice by Stone, Credico declined to comment, but did claim that Stone had dangled an offer to have Trump pardon Assange as a way of “keeping me on the narrative.”
“Stone was hanging that over my head, to keep me in line with the narrative that he put out there,” Credico said, referencing the Assange pardon attempt. “He knows that I’m actually close to Assange, I’m friendly with him, I’ve been in the embassy three times.”
“Stone wanted to be a big shot, so he insinuated himself into it,” Credico added.
It remains unknown under what statutes Stone might be charged. Some former federal prosecutors have suggested that he could be most exposed to a conspiracy charge under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.
But for Stone, a lifelong spin-master, the task remains to separate out what is his self-described “puffery” and what could have constituted real conspiracy with Kremlin-backed hackers.
One Twitter exchange between Stone and Wikileaks, provided to the House Intelligence Committee, could suggest the latter.
“Happy?” The Wikileaks Twitter account messaged Stone on Nov. 9, 2016 – one day after Trump’s victory. “We are now more free to communicate.”