A former adviser to Donald Trump’s campaign on Friday acknowledged that he had private conversations with individuals involved in the hacking of the Democratic National Committee.
However, the adviser, Roger Stone, insisted that the conversations were “completely innocuous,” according to Washington Times which interviewed Stone. “It was so perfunctory, brief and banal, I had forgotten it,” Stone said to the publication of a private Twitter conversation that he had with the hacker known as ‘Gucifer 2.0.”
The U.S. Intelligence Community believes that the hacker is a cover identity for Russian intelligence. The IC — made up of all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies — has unanimously concluded that Russia sought to interfere in the U.S. presidential election and to tip the scales in Donald Trump’s favor and against Hillary Clinton.
Stone admitted to the Washington Times that he exchanged a handful of messages with Guccifer 2.0 in the weeks after a hack of the DNC, which was publicly revealed in late July, 2016.
In a message on August 14, Stone told the hacker that he was “delighted” that Guccifer 2.0’s Twitter account had been reinstated after being suspended by the social media giant.
“wow. thank u for writing back, and thank u for an article about me!!! do u find anything interesting in the docs i posted?” Guccifer 2.0 wrote to Stone in reference to an article that Stone wrote for Breitbart News on August 5 which had credited Guccifer with the DNC hack.
“i’m pleased to say that u r great man. please tell me if i can help u anyhow. it would be a great pleasure to me,” the hacker wrote to Stone in another message on August 17.
On August 21, Stone tweeted “Trust me, it will soon [be] Podesta’s time in the barrel.” This was weeks before hacked emails from Clinton campaign chair John Podesta’s account were leaked and published by WikiLeaks. The message strongly suggests that Stone knew of the hack in advance.
Reports from the U.S. Intelligence Community said that Guccifer 2.0 was used to publicly release the information which was hacked, but that the hacks were conducted by Russia.
The content of the exchange is, as you can see completely innocuous and perfunctory,” Stone told Washington Times.
“Even if [Guccifer 2.0] is/was a Russian asset, my brief Aug. 14 correspondence with him on twitter comes AFTER I wrote about his role in the DNC hacks (Aug 5) and AFTER Wikileaks released the DNC material,” Stone said. “How does one collaborate on a matter after the fact?”
Stone’s remarks does not explain his comment regarding Podesta’s emails.
These newly surfaced contacts come amid increasing scrutiny of the Trump administration in relation to its potential ties to Russia. It is also the latest in a string of revelations of contacts by various Trump associates with Russian operatives.