The criminal trial of Trump associate
is to begin Tuesday in Washington, one of the last loose ends stemming from special counsel
investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Among the characters expected in featured roles: a defendant so renowned for his attention to sartorial detail that he stars in a video, “Roger Stone Explains How to Dress for Court”; a judge who despaired in pretrial hearings of what she called “middle school” antics; prosecutors who want to show the jury a clip from “The Godfather Part II”; and a tiny white dog that may or may not appear on the stand with a witness.
Mr. Stone, a flamboyant Republican consultant who has long been close to President Trump, is charged with lying to Congress, trying to obstruct a congressional inquiry and intimidating a witness. He faces as much as 20 years in prison, though first-time offenders rarely get the maximum sentence.
The trial will focus on Mr. Stone’s role as the conduit between the Trump 2016 campaign and the organization WikiLeaks, which published Democratic Party emails stolen by hackers in what U.S. intelligence agencies have said was part of a Kremlin campaign to boost Mr. Trump at the expense of his Democratic rival,
Mr. Stone made several attempts to contact WikiLeaks through intermediaries during the 2016 campaign, according to the indictment secured by Mr. Mueller this past January and messages reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. He also discussed forthcoming WikiLeaks disclosures with members of the Trump campaign, prosecutors say. He is accused of lying to Congress about those efforts.
to conservative conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi and liberal radio personality Randy Credico.
Mr. Bannon, who was chief executive of the Trump campaign for the last 2½ months before Election Day in 2016, is one of the campaign officials with whom Mr. Stone discussed the WikiLeaks releases, according to a person familiar with their correspondence.
A lawyer for Mr. Bannon didn’t respond to a request for comment. Mr. Stone has said he had no advance knowledge of WikiLeaks’ plans to publish hacked emails leading up to the election.
Mr. Credico, a former friend of Mr. Stone’s, is also expected to be a key witness for the prosecution. Mr. Stone is accused of lying to Congress about his conversations with Mr. Credico regarding WikiLeaks, as well as trying to prevent Mr. Credico from cooperating with investigators.
In the spring of 2018, as Mr. Credico contemplated speaking to Congress, Mr. Stone sent him a series of expletive-laced messages, the Journal has reported. Among other things, Mr. Stone told Mr. Credico to “prepare to die,” and he threatened to take his dog, Bianca, away from him. Many of the messages were quoted in the indictment, which includes one count of witness tampering. Mr. Stone has denied that he intended to threaten Mr. Credico or encourage him to lie.
Real Life. Real News. Real Voices
Help us tell more of the stories that matterBecome a founding member
SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS
What signals could Roger Stone’s trial send to witnesses in the impeachment inquiry? Join the conversation below.
The runup to the trial has been a spectacle. U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson has expressed repeated concern about preserving the integrity of the proceedings and has had to adjudicate issues that rarely come up in court.
“It seems as if once again, I’m wrestling with behavior that has more to do with middle school than a court of law,” Judge Jackson said during one court hearing over Mr. Stone’s use of social media.
Two weeks after pleading not guilty to all charges and being released on a $250,000 bond, Mr. Stone, 67 years old, posted a photo of the judge with crosshairs next to her head—earning him a ban from discussing topics related to the trial on social media. After several other posts that appeared to refer to Mr. Mueller’s investigation, the judge ordered a total ban on Mr. Stone’s use of Instagram,
and other social media.
Mr. Stone has held events to raise money for his defense fund.
Contacted for comment, Bruce Rogow, Mr. Stone’s attorney, said: “I enjoy reading the WSJ and will look forward to your article. It will be an interesting trial.”
Meanwhile, prosecutors in recent weeks battled Mr. Stone’s lawyers over whether they can show a clip from the 1974 film “The Godfather Part II.” Mr. Stone is alleged to have told Mr. Credico that he “should do a ’Frank Pentangeli,’ ” a reference to a mob associate in the movie who lies to a congressional committee. A judge turned prosecutors down but said a transcript of the relevant scene could be introduced.
As the trial opens, jurors are also likely to hear testimony from various associates of Mr. Stone and Mr. Credico.
Mr. Credico, who has struggled with addiction and anxiety, said he plans to travel to Washington with an Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor and his therapy dog, a white Coton de Tulear. He brought Bianca along as he testified before Mr. Mueller’s grand jury last year, but he doesn’t know if he will be allowed to take her on the stand this time, he said last week.
—Aruna Viswanatha contributed to this article.
Copyright ©2019 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8
Subscribe to the newsletter news
We hate SPAM and promise to keep your email address safe