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Steve Bannon, who served as chief executive of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, told jurors Friday he saw Roger Stone as “an access point” to WikiLeaks, which later released hacked emails damaging to Hillary Clinton during the 2016 campaign.
Bannon appeared as reluctant witness in Stone’s criminal trial in federal court under subpoena and said he otherwise would not have taken the stand.
Stone, a colorful political operative and Trump ally, is charged with witness tampering and lying to Congress about his attempts to contacts WikiLeaks about damaging material during the 2016 presidential campaign.
On the witness stand, Bannon said Stone boasted about connections to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, regularly implying he had an inside track on WikiLeaks. He also detailed that there would be information coming from the anti-secrecy organization that he said would be hurting Hilary Clinton and helping the Trump campaign.
Bannon said the campaign had no official access to WikiLeaks or to Julian Assange. But that Stone would be considered if they needed an access point.
During his testimony Bannon added that while Stone repeatedly implied that he had a connection with WikiLeaks, he never stated it directly.
Bannon said he had been interviewed several times by special counsel Robert Mueller’s team, which was investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and potential coordination with the Trump campaign. He also appeared before a federal grand jury and testified before Congress about the matters.
His testimony came after comedian and radio talk show Randy Creidco told jurors that Stone pressured him into backing up lies he told Congress, threatening to take away his dog at one point.
Randy Credico said Stone pressed him to “go along” with a false account of the operative’s contacts with WikiLeaks during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign.
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