In January, Trump confidante Roger Stone sent radio host Randy Credico a text message, obtained by Mother Jones and reported Thursday: “I am working with others to get JA a blanket pardon. It’s very real and very possible. Don’t fuck it up.”
“JA” is Julian Assange, the Wikileaks founder whose website hosted emails stolen from Democrats, allegedly by Russian agents, during the 2016 campaign. “Blanket pardon” refers, possibly, to the fact that Assange has never actually been charged with a crime in the United States, despite the belief of many that he may be the subject of a sealed indictment.
Months after Stone’s text, an unnamed Justice Department official told Reuters that though Wikileaks was under investigation, there was no sealed indictment against Assange.
“I most definitely advocated a pardon for Assange,” Stone acknowledged to Mother Jones.
Assange has for years lived in the Ecuadorian embassy in London; he took asylum there to avoid extradition to Sweden to face a rape investigation. That warrant has since been dropped — though the plaintiff maintains her allegation against Assange — but the Wikileaks founder still faces a charge of skipping bail.
Stone alleges Credico served as a backchannel to Wikileaks in 2016; Credico has denied that.
Credico told Mother Jones that Stone had claimed to be working with Fox News host Andrew Napolitano on the pardon effort; Napolitano denied being involved in the effort to Mother Jones.
And a lawyer for Assange denied involvement in the effort but said: “A pardon for Mr. Assange is warranted. He has been in legal limbo for far too long, merely for publishing truthful information.”
Per the magazine, special counsel Robert Mueller’s team has questioned “at least one” Stone associated about his push to have Trump pardon Assange — former Trump campaign staffer Sam Nunberg, who told prosecutors it hadn’t come up in his discussions with Stone. Credico, Mother Jones reported, wouldn’t tell the magazine whether the pardon effort had come up in his own discussion with prosecutors.
Credico told Mother Jones that Stone brought up a potential Assange pardon often, and that it was part of an effort “to get me not to talk.”
It’s true that Stone has been open with his effort to have Trump pardon Assange and others involved in the Russia probe: Mother Jones noted he said as much to the Washington Examiner in August regarding a pardon for Assange, and that he told the Washington Post in May that conservative provocateur Dinesh D’Souza’s presidential pardon should be seen as positive development for Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort.