(NEW YORK) — President Donald Trump’s longtime friend and former political adviser Roger Stone said reports that he met with WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange during the U.S. presidential election in 2016 are untrue.
“Allegations that I met with Julian Assange in London in 2016, allegation[s] apparently repeated by Sam Nunberg and apparently a second unidentified person are provably false,” Stone told ABC News on Tuesday.
Stone’s comments come in response to a Washington Post story published on Tuesday reporting that two Stone associates said that the veteran political strategist claimed to have made contact with Assange in 2016, after he had officially left the Trump campaign. The story cites their sources as former Stone associate Sam Nunberg, also a former Trump political adviser, and an unnamed associate.
“Sam Nunberg’s conjecture does not create evidence,” Stone told ABC News. “There is no evidence that I participated in or have any knowledge of any collusion with the Russians to affect the 2016 elections.”
It was just last Friday that Nunberg appeared before the grand jury for Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible collusion between Russian agents and members of the Trump campaign during the 2016 presidential election. This followed Nunberg’s earlier media blitz during which he invoked Stone’s name repeatedly in a round of televised interviews airing last week.
Stone claims Nunberg misinterpreted an attempt at humor.
“Late one Friday night when I was trying to get [Nunberg] off the phone…[Nunberg] asked if I had plans for the weekend- and I said I was ‘flying to London to have dinner with Julian Assange’ – a joke and hung up,” Stone explained. “It was jocular and of course provably false via passport record and security video.”
“[Nunberg] called me to warn me that Mueller was out to get me three times then told me to admit I told 58 people that I had gone to London…which of course is not true,” he added. “I told one person … who was too intense to figure out it was a joke.”
A decades-long friend of Trump’s, Stone is a longtime GOP political operative who worked with Presidents Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, and partnered with embattled former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort at the outside political consultant firm Black, Manafort, Stone and Kelly beginning throughout the 1980s. Stone served as an adviser to Trump’s 2016 campaign but left amid controversy in 2015.
In one of Nunberg’s back-to-back interviews, he told CNN that Stone was “like a surrogate father to me.”
While Stone lauded Nunberg as a talented writer and researcher, he called his former associate “a relentless gossip and yenta” in reference to the Washington Post story on Tuesday.
“In this case, [Nunberg] has done me a disservice,” Stone told ABC News. “The claim that I got documents from WikiLeaks and gave them to Donald Trump or anyone in the Trump camp is as false as the certainty that they were hacked by Russians or anyone else. These are lies created by Democrats and some in the media that will be dispelled by the investigation.”
In September, Stone appeared before the House Intelligence Committee for more than three hours as part of the panel’s probe into Russian interference in the election.
Afterward, he told reporters that the majority of lawmakers’ questions focused on his communications with Guccifer 2.0, the unnamed hacker who has taken credit for breaking into Democratic National Committee email servers.
Stone addressed the controversy surrounding his communication with Guccifer 2.0, explaining that his full exchange with “someone claiming to be a hacker” has been released publicly.
“It is innocuous, banal and based on the timing, content and context certainly doesn’t constitute collusion,” Stone told ABC News. “No collusion. No hacked e-mail. No discussion of the allegedly hacked e-mail with Donald Trump before, during or after the campaign.”
Stone also disputed the notion that communicating with Assange would mean he colluded with Russia during the 2016 campaign.
“The only reason any of this would matter is if Assange is a Russian asset. I reject this claim by our politicized and discredited Intelligence services,” he said. “Nonetheless, because I received no allegedly hacked e-mails – or anything else – from WikiLeaks and passed nothing on to Donald Trump, it’s immaterial.”
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