Roger Stone, President Trump's former campaign adviser, on Friday admitted to having private conversations with a hacker who helped leak information from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) during last year's campaign.
Stone insisted to The Washington Times that the conversations were "completely innocuous."
“It was so perfunctory, brief and banal I had forgotten it,” Stone told The Times of a private Twitter conversation he had with a hacker known as Guccifer 2.0.
Guccifer 2.0 is believed by the U.S. intelligence community to be a cover identity for Russian intelligence operatives. The intelligence community concluded that Moscow sought to interfere in last year's election to help Trump win.
Stone told the Times he exchanged a handful of messages with Guccifer 2.0 in the weeks following a hack of the DNC, which was revealed in late July.
In one message from Aug. 14, Stone said he was "delighted" that Guccifer 2.0's Twitter account had been reinstated after being suspended.
“i’m pleased to say that u r great man. please tell me if i can help u anyhow. it would be a great pleasure to me,” Guccifer 2.0 wrote in an Aug. 17 message to Stone.
Stone tweeted on Aug. 21, “Trust me, it will soon [be] Podesta’s time in the barrel.” Weeks later, Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s hacked emails were leaked to WikiLeaks, leading many to believe Stone was aware in advance of the hack.
Stone denied any connection to the hacks at the time.
The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security last December released a joint report detailing how federal investigators linked the Russian government to hacks of Democratic Party organizations. Reports from the intelligence community said Guccifer 2.0 was used to publicly release the data from hacks, but that the hacks themselves were conducted by Russia.
“The content of the exchange is, as you can see completely innocuous and perfunctory,” Stone told The Times.
“Even if [Guccifer 2.0] is/was a Russian asset, my brief Aug. 14 correspondence with him on twitter comes AFTER I wrote about his role in the DNC hacks (Aug 5) and AFTER Wikileaks released the DNC material,” Stone said. “How does one collaborate on a matter after the fact?”
The revelation of Stone's contacts come as the Trump administration is under scrutiny for its potential ties to Russia. Attorney General Jeff SessionsJeff SessionsIsraeli police arrest suspect in connection to JCC bomb threats FBI has info suggesting coordination between Trump aides, Russia: report Poll: By 2 to 1 margin, registered voters reject Comey MORE, former national security adviser Michael Flynn and other aides have been revealed to have met or spoke with top Russian figures ahead of the election.
Guccifer 2.0 had contacts with The Hill during last year’s presidential campaign, providing quotes as well as leaking documents.
In one leak, Guccifer 2.0 shared information about Democrats with The Hill, including the names, Social Security numbers and other personal information of big-ticket donors as well as memos used to prepare House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, President Barack ObamaBarack ObamaCourt rejects green group’s claim of pro-pipeline bias at regulator Obama: 'My heart goes out’ to London victims Dem rep: Nunes ‘betrayed’ Intelligence panel’s independence MORE and DCCC officials for a fundraising event.
Another leak highlighted efforts by Democrats to prevent Mike Parrish from winning the party’s primary for a contested House seat in Pennsylvania.