Bannon testifies that Trump campaign saw Stone as link to WikiLeaks

Stephen Bannon, President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden says voters should choose who nominates Supreme Court justice Trump, Biden will not shake hands at first debate due to COVID-19 Pelosi: Trump Supreme Court pick 'threatens' Affordable Care Act MORE's former White House adviser and campaign CEO, testified in court on Friday that the campaign saw Roger StoneRoger Jason StoneFederal prosecutor speaks out, says Barr 'has brought shame' on Justice Dept. The agony of justice Our Constitution is under attack by Attorney General William Barr 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 AssangePsychiatrist says Assange told him he was hearing imaginary voices, music Assange extradition hearing delayed over coronavirus concerns The Intercept's Glenn Greenwald discusses U.S. case against Assange 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 ClintonThe Memo: Trump furor stokes fears of unrest Bloomberg rolls out M ad buy to boost Biden in Florida Hillicon Valley: Productivity, fatigue, cybersecurity emerge as top concerns amid pandemic | Facebook critics launch alternative oversight board | Google to temporarily bar election ads after polls close 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.