Roger Stone, a former Donald Trump campaign adviser and decades-long Trump friend, has come into focus as one of the advisers suspected of collaborating with the Russian government during the election. In fact the New York Times claims the FBI is investigating him over it. And Stone himself has long admitted he’s kept a “backchannel” open with hacker group WikiLeaks. But now The Smoking Gun is reporting that Stone was also communicating directly with Russian government hackers.
The report says that Roger Stone communicated with the hacker known as Guccifer 2.0, a self identified lone wolf who has since been revealed by U.S. intel to have been a creation of the secretive GRU arm of the Russian government. This stands out as noteworthy because up to now, there has been a wide swath of evidence that half a dozen Donald Trump advisers communicated with the Russian Ambassador, but no firm evidence that Trump’s advisers were communicating with Russian government hackers. Stone has admitted communication with WikiLeaks, which was allegedly given the Democratic Party emails by Russian hackers, but he had not admitted communication with the Russian hackers themselves.
Why does the distinction matter? All that’s been confirmed thus far is that the Trump campaign changed the Republican Party platform for Russia’s benefit, and that Russia hacked and published the emails of Democratic Party targets. What’s not been confirmed is whether this was a quid pro quo agreement. Even though Trump and his advisers met with the Russian Ambassador and ostensibly agreed on platform changes, they can claim they had no knowledge that the election was coincidentally being rigged for them by Russian hackers. That won’t pass the smell test, but it might pass for reasonable doubt.
That all changes, however, if it can be demonstrated that Trump or his advisers were in communication with the Russian hackers during the election, which would not be able to explain away. And according to this new article from The Smoking Gun, Roger Stone was allegedly in regular communication with Russian government hacker collective Guccifer 2.0. We presume Stone will jump on Twitter shortly to issue his usual “fake news” blanket denial.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report