Steve Bannon Roger Stone trial, Bannon Tells of Campaign Willing.
As the trial of Roger Stone stretched into its fourth day on Friday, prosecutors called their biggest name yet to the witness stand: Steve Bannon.
The former White House chief strategist and Trump campaign CEO stressed that he was appearing under a subpoena, rather than voluntarily. “I have been compelled to testify,” he said.
But he proceeded to explain that, in 2016, Stone suggested to him several times “that he [Stone] had a relationship with WikiLeaks and Julian Assange.”
All this relates to the government investigations of Russian interference in the 2016 election. Part of that interference, special counsel Robert Mueller says, was through Russians’ hacking of Democrats’ emails — and the provision of those emails to WikiLeaks, for publication.
Both Mueller and congressional investigators attempted to get to the bottom of what happened with the hack-and-leak, and whether any Trump advisers were involved. As part of that, they scrutinized Roger Stone — and now he’s on trial facing charges of obstruction and lying to the House Intelligence Committee on the topic of WikiLeaks.
Why prosecutors wanted Bannon’s testimony
Bannon’s testimony was important to prosecutors for two main reasons. First, one of the false statements charges against Stone stems from his having told the committee that he did not share information about WikiLeaks with the Trump campaign.
Now, Bannon testified that the Trump campaign didn’t really have an official access point to WikiLeaks — but that the closest thing to that would have been Roger Stone.
Stone, he said, had been making comments both publicly and privately suggesting that he had some sort of a relationship with Assange, WikiLeaks’s founder. So when Bannon wanted to know why Assange hadn’t released new damaging documents by early October, Bannon emailed Stone asking what was up. He did so, he testified, because Stone was “the guy” who had told him he “knew WikiLeaks and knew Assange.”