Additional reporting by Josh Kovensky
One looming question was introduced by Friday’s explosive indictment against Roger Stone: Who on the Trump campaign directed a senior campaign official to contact Stone about forthcoming Wikileaks releases of hacked emails hurtful to the Clinton campaign?
A tantalizing paragraph in the 24-page indictment reads (emphasis added):
After the July 22, 2016 release of stolen [Democratic National Committee] emails by Organization 1, a senior Trump Campaign official was directed to contact STONE about any additional releases and what other damaging information Organization 1 had regarding the Clinton Campaign.
The indictment provides no further indication of the identity of the person who allegedly was issuing that direction to the senior campaign official. Few individuals on a presidential campaign would be authorized to direct a senior campaign official to carry out such an order.
Stone was arrested in Fort Lauderdale before dawn on Friday after Robert Mueller’s grand jury handed down a seven-count indictment Thursday charging Stone with lying to Congress about his extensive contacts with WikiLeaks and attempting to intimidate a witness.
Former Trump campaign chairman Stephen Bannon is implicated in the indictment as one individual who communicated with Stone about the WikiLeaks emails. Though Bannon is not mentioned by name, emails released by the New York Times between him and Stone suggest he is the “high-ranking Trump campaign official” who communicated with Stone in the fall of 2016 about the timing and content of specific WikiLeaks email dumps.
A person familiar with the situation confirmed to TPM that the “high-ranking” official is Bannon. But that person noted that Bannon could not be the “senior Trump Campaign official” who initially contacted Stone about feeding the campaign information on WikiLeaks’ plans.
Bannon did not join the campaign until mid-August 2016, a month after the DNC email release prompted the initial outreach to Stone regarding WikiLeaks’ activities.