Jury finds Roger Stone guilty of lying to Congress

Roger Stone, the right-wing provocateur and longtime associate of President Trump, was convicted on Friday of lying to Congress and witness tampering related to his efforts to feed the Trump campaign inside information about WikiLeaks in 2016.

Jurors convicted Stone on all seven counts of obstruction, making false statements and witness tampering.

The verdict marks another high-profile victory for former Special Counsel Robert Mueller, whose legal team alleged that Stone had tried to conceal from Congress his contacts with the Trump campaign and people he believed were feeding him inside information about WikiLeaks during the 2016 campaign.

The jury heard testimony from two of Trump’s most senior aides from the campaign: Steve Bannon, who served as the campaign’s chief executive before briefly advising the president in the White House, and Rick Gates, the former deputy campaign manager who reached a plea agreement with Mueller over various banking and financial fraud charges.

Prosecutors alleged that Stone lied to the House Intelligence Committee in a September 2017 deposition when he told lawmakers that he had no records of communications with his intermediary with WikiLeaks or with the Trump campaign about WikiLeaks. Stone was also accused of lying about the identity of his intermediary.

“The evidence in this case will show that Roger Stone lied to the House Intelligence Committee because the truth looked bad — the truth looked bad for the Trump campaign and the truth looked bad for Donald Trump,” Aaron Zelinsky, a federal prosecutor said at the beginning of the trial last week.

Both Gates and Bannon testified that the campaign had considered Stone to be its link to WikiLeaks, which in the latter half of 2016 released troves of emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman. Gates also told the jury that he had been in a car with Trump in late July 2016 — shortly after WikiLeaks released its batch of hacked DNC emails — when he overheard a call between the candidate and Stone. After Trump hung up, Gates said that he "indicated that more information would be coming” from WikiLeaks.

Stone’s legal team argued that the self-described trickster was not trying to deceive Congress but that he believed the WikiLeaks controversy did not fit the parameters of the House Intelligence Committee’s parameters of its investigation into Russia’s efforts to influence the election.

His lawyers also argued that there was nothing improper in the Trump campaign seeking out information about a rival.

"In fact, so much of this case deals with that question that you need to ask: So what?" Bruce Rogow, a member of the defense team, told the jury.

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