Bannon testifies that Trump campaign saw Stone as link to WikiLeaks

Stephen Bannon, President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump anti-reg push likely to end up in court Biden set to make risky economic argument against Trump Hillicon Valley: Tech companies lead way on WFH forever | States and counties plead for cybersecurity assistance | Trump weighing anti-conservative bias panel MORE's former White House adviser and campaign CEO, testified in court on Friday that the campaign saw Roger StoneRoger Jason StoneSunday shows preview: States begin to reopen even as some areas in US see case counts increase Brzezinski says she arranged call with Twitter CEO to discuss banning Trump Trump taps new prosecutor for DOJ office at center of Flynn, Stone controversies MORE as a potential intermediary with WikiLeaks.

"I think it was generally believed that the access point or potential access point to WikiLeaks was Roger Stone," Bannon testified at Stone's criminal trial.

"I was led to believe he had a relationship with WikiLeaks and Julian AssangeJulian Paul AssangeFBI releases documents showing Roger Stone, Julian Assange communications Judge orders Chelsea Manning's release from jail Lawyers: Chelsea Manning recovering after suicide attempt MORE," he added, referring to the site's founder.

ADVERTISEMENT

Bannon said he was compelled to testify for the prosecution in the trial because of a subpoena.

Stone is facing charges of making false statements, obstruction and witness tampering over his claims of having a back-channel dialog with WikiLeaks during 2016 as the group was releasing stolen emails from Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonStakes high for Collins in coronavirus relief standoff Poll: Biden leads Trump by 5 points in Minnesota Pelosi makes fans as Democrat who gets under Trump's skin MORE's campaign chairman.

Stone had made the claim publicly in 2016 and in private conversations with Bannon before he even joined Trump campaign, the former White House adviser testified on Friday.

Prosecutors showed an email that Stone had sent to Bannon on Aug. 18, 2016 — the day after Bannon was announced as the campaign CEO.

"Trump can still win —but time is running out," Stone wrote. "Early voting begins in six weeks. I do know how to win but it ain’t pretty."

Bannon said he saw value in Stone because he recognized his expertise in "opposition research, dirty tricks, the things that campaigns use when they’ve got to make up some ground." But he testified that the campaign never asked him to contact Assange or WikiLeaks.

Bannon said he knew something big was coming from WikiLeaks in October 2016 in part because of the media hype.

“Drudge had a double siren, that means it’s of national importance,” Bannon said, referring to the right-wing news aggregator.

But Bannon said he has a different reason for remembering the weekend that WikiLeaks released a trove of emails from John Podesta, Clinton's top campaign aide. The document dump came on the same day that an "Access Hollywood" tape leaked showing Trump making crude remarks about sexual assault.

"I just remembered the weekend they came out we called 'Billy Bush weekend,'" Bannon said.