WASHINGTON, D.C. – Libertarian firebrand and long-time Trump confident Roger Stone looks forward to an opportunity to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee about his alleged involvement with Russia to rig the 2016 election for Donald Trump.
But after a letter dated April 28 from the Senate Intelligence Committee, jointly signed by the Chairman, Republican Sen. Richard Burr and by the Vice Chairman, Democratic Sen. Mark Warner, asking Stone to make himself available for a “closed interview with designated committee staff” at a mutually agreeable time, Stone is not so sure the U.S. Congress wants the American people to hear his side of the story.
Democrats have been ambivalent about whether Stone needs to be made the villain for collaborating with the Russians as the “pièce d’résistance” of a political career in which he has played the role of “bad-boy dirty-trickster” with “aplomb and alacrity,” or to throw their hands up and admit the Russian gambit was always just a Hillary Clinton baseless excuse for her historic loss.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein demonstrates the Democratic Party ambivalence over what to do with Stone, now that he has been made out by Democrats to be the arch villain who orchestrated the Julian Assange Wikileaks hack-and-publish release of the embarrassing emails Democrats wrote to-and-from Hillary’s 2016 campaign chair, John Podesta.
At the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing grilling FBI Director on May 3, Feinstein ripped Comey for not investigating Stone’s alleged connection to Russia, right after she ripped Comey for having investigated Hillary Clinton’s email scandal.
“I join those who believe the actions taken by the FBI did in fact have an impact on the election,” Feinstein said in her prepared opening statement.
“What’s worse, is that while all of this was going on in the public spotlight, while the FBI was discussing an investigation into Sen. Clinton’s email server in detail, I cannot help but note that the FBI was noticeably silent about the investigation into the Trump campaign and Russian interference into the election,” she continued.
Feinstein commented that Stone posted a tweet declaring, “Trust me, it will soon be Podesta’s time in the barrel,” as well as noting Stone “bragged” he was in communications with Wikileaks, and there was “no telling” what the October Surprise might be.
In making these comments, Feinstein ignored Stone’s defense that his comment about “Podesta’s time in the barrel” referenced research he was preparing to publish documenting Russia’s payments to Podesta in the form of stock granted through a shell company in the Netherlands that Russia created to facilitate money-laundering operations.
Nor did Feinstein consider Stone’s argument the timing of his various comments about Wikileaks and the October Surprise were weeks after Guccifer 2.0 and Wikileaks separately published the Podesta emails in question.
The next day, May 4, in an appearance on CNN, Wolf Blitzer asked Feinstein if she had any evidence Russia interfered in the presidential campaign as a result of her being briefed by the CIA at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia.
Without hesitation, Feinstein answered, “Not at this time.”
But Feinstein was not the only Democrat confused over whether or not Stone was an “agent provocateur” of the Russians, out to tank Hillary’s electoral chances last November.
On March 22, 2017, the Atlantic published an article quoting Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, telling “Meet the Press Daily” on MSNBC that there was “evidence … more than circumstantial … very much worthy of collusion” between Trump’s campaign and Russia.
But then, on April 2, in an interview on the Sunday edition of “State of the Nation” on CNN, Schiff explained his investigation so far had turned up “no definitive proof” of Trump-Russia collusion in the 2016 election.
Even the left-leaning FactCheck.org, a group funded by the Annenberg Foundation, agreed with Stone that there is no evidence Stone colluded with Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign.
“There is nothing in the public record so far that proves Stone, a political operative and longtime Trump associate, predicted the Podesta email hack,” FactCheck.org concluded in an article published on March 28, 2017, entitled “Misrepresenting Stone’s Prescience.”
“More information may emerge as a result of FBI and congressional investigations, but based on what is currently in the public domain, it’s not an established fact that Stone knew in advance that Podesta’s emails were hacked and would be published in October,” the FactCheck.org article concluded.
Still, Democratic Sen. Al Franken, in the May 3 Senate Judiciary hearing asked FBI Director James Comey if Comey could explain what the FBI was investigating regarding Roger Stone’s contacts with Guccifer 2.0.
Comey declined to confirm the FBI was conducting any such investigation into Stone and Guccifer.