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Stone's lawyer clashes with key witness

Roger StoneRoger Jason StoneFlynn spurs questions of who Trump might pardon next OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Trump pardons Flynn | Lawmakers lash out at decision | Pentagon nixes Thanksgiving dining hall meals due to COVID-19 Democratic impeachment leaders blast Trump's pardon of Flynn MORE's lawyer on Friday clashed with a key witness in the longtime Trump adviser's trial over charges of lying to Congress.

During a heated cross-examination, Stone's lawyer questioned the credibility of radio host and political activist Randy Credico, with the judge at numerous times intervening.

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Stone is accused of lying to lawmakers about his claims of having an intermediary with WikiLeaks as the organization was preparing to release stolen emails from Democratic presidential nominee  Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump has discussed possible pardons for three eldest children, Kushner: report McCaskill: 'Hypocrisy' for GOP to target Biden nominee's tweets after Trump Biden budget pick sparks battle with GOP Senate MORE's campaign in 2016.

He told the House Intelligence Committee in 2017 that Credico was his back channel to WikiLeaks. Credico has denied having any inside knowledge about WikiLeaks or feeding any information about the group to Stone.

But in the courtroom on Friday, Robert Buschel, an attorney on Stone's legal team, repeatedly pressed Credico about his ties to Margaret Ratner Kunstler, a lawyer who helped him arrange a radio interview with WikiLeaks publisher Julian AssangeJulian Paul AssangeAi Weiwei stages silent protest against Assange extradition Psychiatrist says Assange told him he was hearing imaginary voices, music Assange extradition hearing delayed over coronavirus concerns MORE.

Stone's lawyers argued that Credico had portrayed himself as an intermediary to WikiLeaks in the past.

Credico admitted that he once claimed with what he said was "a wink and a nod" to being Stone's back channel to Assange. But he insisted those remarks made at a party in 2018 were not intended to be taken seriously.

Buschel's line of questioning appeared to get under Credico's skin, and the witness responded angrily throughout the cross-examination. Those exchanges promoted Judge Amy Berman Jackson, an Obama appointee, to step in multiple times in to calm tempers.

At one point, an exasperated Credico sarcastically responded, "OK, I'm the back channel, I’m the big back channel, I went to Julian Assange. ... Come on, buddy."

Stone is facing a charge of witness tampering over texts and emails that show him pressuring Credico to not cooperate with a House Intelligence Committee investigation.

Evidence introduced by the prosecution shows Stone hurling crude insults at Credico and, in an apparent reference to Credico's therapy dog Bianca, threatening to "take that dog away from you."

But Credico dealt a blow to the prosecution's case when he said he did not take that threat seriously.

"I know that he would never touch that dog. It was hyperbole by him," he said.

But he also said he was worried about antagonizing Stone, a self-described "dirty trickster."

"I did not want to rile him up," Credico said. "I can’t play on his level. He plays hardball — he throws a lot of junk — I didn’t want to get hit."