Mueller team asks court for delay, citing 'press of other work'
New filing suggests Mueller has evidence Stone communicated with WikiLeaks
Special counsel Robert Mueller said in a new court filing that search warrants have uncovered communications between longtime GOP operative Roger Stone and "Organization 1," which is widely believed to be WikiLeaks.
Mueller made the disclosure in a filing Friday arguing that Stone's case is related to the one involving Russian military hackers who are alleged to have breached the Democratic National Committee and personal account of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.
The communications were uncovered in search warrants executed on accounts in the investigation into Russian hackers, Mueller said.
Stone's attorneys have objected to his case being labeled as "related" to the Russian hacking case, arguing that it should be randomly assigned to a new judge.
The hacked emails were given to WikiLeaks, which later released them, in what U.S. intelligence officials say was part of a broader plot by the Russian government to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.
Mueller's prosecutors wrote Friday that in the course of investigating the email hacking "the government obtained and executed dozens of search warrants on various accounts used to facilitate the transfer of stolen documents for release, as well as to discuss the timing and promotion of their release."
"Several of those search warrants were executed on accounts that contained Stone's communications with Guccifer 2.0 and with Organization 1," the filing states.
Mueller's team said the evidence obtained from those warrants resulted in the computer hacking charges unsealed against 12 Russian GRU officers and, later, the charges against Stone.
The special counsel said the search warrants would be produced to Stone's defense attorneys in discovery and included in a sealed addendum to Friday's filing.
A longtime friend of President Trump, Stone was indicted in Washington, D.C., late last month on charges of lying to Congress about his communications regarding WikiLeaks, witness tampering and obstructing a congressional investigation. He pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Stone has said he never directly communicated with WikiLeaks but instead used a backchannel. Stone, who made public statements that appeared to forecast WikiLeaks releases before the 2016 election, has maintained that he had no inside knowledge of the hacked emails before WikiLeaks released them.
In the indictment filed against him last month, federal prosecutors alleged Stone had lied to congressional investigators about his contacts regarding WikiLeaks.
They said that during his testimony before the House Intelligence Committee he claimed that former New York radio host Randy Credico was his backchannel to the organization. Stone also allegedly testified that he did not ask any other individual to contact the group.
Credico has repeatedly denied being Stone's source. Emails exchanged between Stone and another individual, believed to be conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi, allegedly show Stone had asked Corsi to get in touch with WikiLeaks about any damaging Democratic emails the group might have in its possession.
Corsi was questioned by the special counsel about his communications with Stone on WikiLeaks. He has said he determined on his own that the group had hacked Democratic emails that they would release in the weeks ahead of the 2016 presidential election, but that he didn't have any contact with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
Corsi and Credico are not named in Stone's indictment and instead are referred to as "Person 1" and "Person 2."
Last July's indictment against the Russian hackers cited communications between Guccifer 2.0, who is identified as a Russian GRU officer, and "a person who was in regular contact with senior members" of Trump's campaign. Stone has acknowledged that he is likely the person referred to in the indictment.
Stone's case has been assigned to Judge Amy Berman Jackson in D.C. because Mueller designated it as "related" to the case involving the Russian hackers. Earlier this month, Stone objected to that designation, asking that the case be randomly assigned.
"At first blush and without the benefit of discovery, there is nothing about these cases that suggests they are suitably related, other than they are both brought by the Office of Special Counsel," his attorneys wrote in a Feb. 8 filing.
"Roger Stone's alleged conduct is not connected to any of the 'Russian activities' outlined in the Netyksho indictment," Stone's attorneys wrote, referring to the indictment of Viktor Borisovich Netyksho and other Russians hackers.
Mueller has been investigating Russia's election interference and potential coordination between the Trump campaign and Moscow for almost two years. He has charged several Russians and Trump associates in the course of the investigation, but has not made any allegations of conspiracy involving the Trump campaign or associates and the Kremlin.
Trump has denied any collusion between his campaign and Moscow and regularly derides the investigation as a "witch hunt."
Stone's case is expected to go to trial later this year; prosecutors and his attorneys have asked for extra time to prepare, given the amount of evidence in the case.
On Friday, Jackson issued a gag order restricting Stone and his attorneys from discussing the case publicly.