Roger Stone, President Trump’s longtime confidant and former campaign advisor, has admitted that he was in private communication with one of the Kremlin-connected hacker personas behind the Democratic National Committee email breach last year.
Stone, one of several Trump associates under FBI investigation for potential Russia ties, acknowledged in a lengthy statement Friday evening that he communicated with Guccifer 2.0 in direct Twitter messages last summer. The statement came in response to a recent report from the Smoking Gun website that suggests Stone might have collaborated with Russian hackers.
U.S. intelligence officials and various cybersecurity firms have concluded that Russian spy agencies created Guccifer 2.0 as an Internet persona for the purpose of helping Trump win the White House.
But Stone blasted claims that he was in contact with Russian officials as “sensational” and “bogus.”
“This is another absurd media claim that is part of the long-standing absurd claim that Donald Trump had anything to do with the Russians,” Stone said.
To bolster his denial, Stone posted screengrabs of his private conversations with Guccifer 2.0.
“Delighted you are reinstated. F–k the State and their MSM lackeys,” Stone wrote in an Aug. 14 message to the hacker persona after its account was reinstated following a temporary suspension amid fallout from the WikiLeaks email dumps that caused repeated embarrassments for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
The hacker responded gleefully, thanking Stone for one of his Breitbart News columns ridiculing Democrats for alleging that Russians were behind the election hacks.
Over the next couple of days, Guccifer 2.0 praised Stone as a “great man” on multiple occasions and offered him a helping hand.
“Please tell me if I can help you anyhow,” the hacker told Stone. “It would be a great pleasure to me.”
Guccifer 2.0 did not elaborate on what form that “help” would have come in and Stone could not immediately be reached for comment.
In his Friday statement, Stone called the conversations “innocuous,” adding that they were so “perfunctory, brief and banal I had forgotten it.”
Stone served as Trump’s chief political advisor during the early days of the campaign. He eventually split from the campaign but remained a confidante and occasional advisor to Trump. The two men have been close friends and business partners since the 1970s.
Stone is among at least three Trump campaign advisers currently under investigation by the FBI, the NSA, the CIA and the Treasury Department over perceived ties to the Kremlin. The other two are ex-Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and ex-Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
Several people within Trump’s administration have also been scrutinized over apparent ties to Russia, including ousted national security adviser Michael Flynn and attorney general Jeff Sessions.