On Tuesday, the deputy manager of Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign pulled down the curtain on the campaign’s keen interest in the anti-secrecy organization WikiLeaks and suggested that Trump himself had more knowledge of the matter than the president has claimed previously.
Rick Gates, a Trump friend while testifying at the trial of Roger Stone, claimed that he overheard a phone call in which Stone seemed to make the president aware of a planned WikiLeaks release. He accused Trump of lying about his own WikiLeaks-related dealings.
It has been testified by Gates and other witnesses that Stone posited as something of an intermediary between WikiLeaks and the campaign, with access to insider information. Gates said his boss said to him that Trump would be kept updated on WikiLeaks and the campaign, with access to insider information.
Gates and his boss Paul Manafort told him that Trump will be kept updated on WikiLeak’s plans to release Democratic campaign emails which authorities concluded were hacked by Russia.
Former high-ranking campaign official testimony indicates that Trump’s knowledge of WikiLeaks was more advanced than he has previously stated. Special counsel Robert Mueller that was investigating Russian interference in the campaign, asked questions to Trump to which he gave a written reply that he did not remember receiving any information about WikiLeaks disclosures in advance.
In the court, Gates stated that he overheard at least one phone call between Trump and Stone in late July 2016 in which he said he thought they may have discussed WikiLeaks plans, saying that he reached that conclusion because after Trump hung up on the call, the then-candidate said, “more information would be coming.”
Gates was asked whether any other person was giving the campaign information about WikiLeaks to which he replied, “the only person I’m aware of that had information at that time was Mr. Stone.”
Prosecutors are trying to prove at trial that Stone lied and sought to obstruct justice. Stone’s lawyer played audio clips of his testimony to lawmakers on Tuesday, in which then-ranking Intelligence Committee Democrat and now Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., asked, “So you have no emails to anyone concerning the allegations of hacked documents or your conversations with the Guccifer 2 or any discussions you have had with third parties about Julian Assange? You have no emails, no texts, no documents whatsoever, any kind of that nature?”
“That is correct. Not to my knowledge. I think we met, again the precise criteria of your [committee’s written] request, and we complied,” Stone said.
“We did an extensive search consistent with the direction of my attorneys, and we found nothing that met the criteria that you asked for,” he added.