Mr. Stone said on Tuesday that although he was not familiar with the details of Mr. Manafort’s finances, he believed that federal prosecutors were trying to pressure the former campaign chairman into testifying that members of the Trump campaign colluded with Russians to disrupt the election.
“I think what’s happening here is that the special counsel will try to manufacture a crime and then say, ‘Look, Manafort, we won’t prosecute you for this if you simply admit you were colluding with the Russians and Donald Trump knew everything,’” Mr. Stone said. “In other words, bare false witness against the president. I’ve known Paul Manafort for over 40 years, and I don’t believe he is going to do that. He is not going to lie, and that would be a lie.”
Mr. Stone also said he told the Intelligence Committee that he never worked with Russians to aid Mr. Trump’s campaign, and that he was unaware of any evidence that showed Russian “collusion with any member of the Trump campaign, Trump family, Donald Trump, Trump associates, Trump friends, Trump supporters.”
He said he did admit to the committee that he once exchanged messages with someone claiming to be Guccifer 2.0, an online persona that American officials believe was a front in the Russian hacking efforts and responsible for copying thousands of emails from the Democratic National Committee.
Mr. Stone said he did not know about hacks in advance, and called the exchanges with the suspected hacker “benign and innocuous.” He said that a journalist had connected him with Guccifer 2.0, but he refused to name the journalist because he had spoken to the person “off the record.”
“I’m not going to burn somebody who I spoke to off the record,” Mr. Stone said. “If he releases me, if he allows me to release it, I would be happy to give it to the committee. I’m actually going to try to do that.”
Mr. Stone’s refusal to name the person who had helped him make contact with Guccifer 2.0 seemed to frustrate Democrats on the committee.
“There was one significant area of seminal importance to the committee that Mr. Stone was unwilling to answer our questions,” said Representative Adam B. Schiff, the top Democrat on the committee. “We hope that he will cooperate in the future. If not, it will be necessary to subpoena him to bring him back to answer those important questions.”
Mr. Schiff does not have the power to unilaterally issue a subpoena to Mr. Stone. Committee rules require that any subpoena have the signature of Representative Devin Nunes, the California Republican who is chairman of the committee.
Mr. Stone, a self-proclaimed political “dirty trickster,” said he would be open to returning to the committee “under the right circumstances,” and called Tuesday’s appearance a “very frank exchange.”
Continue reading the main storySource: New York Times – Politics