The perjury trial of Roger Stone sounded like a Russia collusion trial on Thursday as prosecutors detailed nearly 60 conversations the defendant had with senior Trump campaign officials, including Donald Trump himself, on WikiLeaks and emails hacked from the Democratic National Committee.
Mr. Stone, a Republican operative and longtime confidant of Mr. Trump, is accused of lying to Congress, witness tampering and obstruction in a bid to thwart a congressional investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
Prosecutors have said Mr. Stone misled the House Intelligence Committee in 2017 to shield the president from damaging revelations about his campaign’s efforts to connect with WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange.
A former FBI agent, Michelle Taylor, who worked for former special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian meddling, was the first witness. She testified about the voluminous contacts between Mr. Stone and the Trump campaign as WikiLeaks was releasing thousands of emails hacked from the DNC and Hillary Clinton campaign.
The clips were followed by a chart detailing Mr. Stone’s conversations with top Trump campaign officials in 2016. Mr. Stone called campaign chairman Paul Manafort 25 times, campaign aide Rick Gates 28 times, campaign chief executive officer Steve Bannon twice and Mr. Trump twice.
Ms. Taylor conceded that she did not know the content of the calls, but noted they aligned with major announcements from WikiLeaks about the hacked emails.
Defense attorney Bruce Rogow repeatedly emphasized Ms. Taylor’s lack of knowledge about the content of the calls during cross-examination.
“I do not,” Ms. Taylor responded when asked if she knew what was said during the calls or if the contacts resulted in any action.
Prosecutors also zeroed in on threats Mr. Stone made to associate Randy Credico, a witness in the Mueller probe who was subpoenaed by Congress in late 2017. Mr. Stone repeatedly urged his associate to block lawmakers.
“Stonewall it, plead the Fifth, anything to save the plan….’ Richard Nixon,” Mr. Stone told him, quoting President Nixon from the secret tapes uncovered during the Watergate investigation.
“You are a rat … You backstab your friends,” Mr. Stone texted his associate. “I am so ready. Let’s get it on. Prepare to die [expletive].”
Mr. Credico read for the court a text he sent to Mr. Stone: “I have never had a conversation with Julian Assange other than my radio show. I have pieced it all together … so you may as well tell the truth that you had no back-channel or there’s [another] guy you were talking about in early August.”
Mr. Stone, though, insisted Mr. Credico block the probe, making multiple references to Frank Pentangeli, a character from “The Godfather Part II.”
In the movie, the character Pentangeli changes his congressional testimony to protect crime boss Michael Corleone.
“Start practicing your Pentangeli,” Mr. Stone tells Mr. Credico.
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