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Bannon testifies that Trump campaign saw Stone as link to WikiLeaks

Stephen Bannon, President TrumpDonald TrumpNoem touts South Dakota coronavirus response, knocks lockdowns in CPAC speech On The Trail: Cuomo and Newsom — a story of two embattled governors McCarthy: 'I would bet my house' GOP takes back lower chamber in 2022 MORE's former White House adviser and campaign CEO, testified in court on Friday that the campaign saw Roger StoneRoger Jason StoneDOJ investigating whether Alex Jones, Roger Stone played role in Jan. 6 riots: WaPo Nearly a quarter of Trump's Facebook posts in 2020 included misinformation: analysis Federal prosecutors investigated Proud Boys ties to Roger Stone in 2019 case: CNN 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 AssangeBiden DOJ to continue to seek Assange extradition Assange, Snowden among those not included on Trump pardon list Trump grants clemency to more than 100 people, including Bannon MORE," he added, referring to the site's founder.

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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 ClintonMedia circles wagons for conspiracy theorist Neera Tanden The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by The AIDS Institute - Senate ref axes minimum wage, House votes today on relief bill Democratic strategists start women-run media consulting firm 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.