Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon testified for the prosecution Friday in the federal trial of political operative and longtime Trump adviser and confidant Roger Stone.
Bannon, who told prosecutors that he would not have come to testify against Stone if he had not been subpoenaed, testified that Stone had “implied that he had a connection with WikiLeaks,” but did not ever state it directly.
PROSECUTORS SAY ROGER STONE LIED TO CONGRESS, AS DEFENSE CLAIMS ‘NO CORRUPT INTENT’
Bannon also testified that the Trump campaign did not have direct access to WikiLeaks, and noted that he viewed Stone as the “access point.” But Bannon added that Stone never said he had access to “non-public” documents, but only had access to documents that were on the WikiLeaks website for anyone with a computer to access.
Bannon estimated that he had been in touch with Stone about 10 to 12 times from when Bannon joined the Trump campaign in August 2016 through Election Day, but noted that WikiLeaks was not a major topic of conversation during the campaign.
Bannon also said he has been in touch with Stone since leaving his White House role in August 2017, but said he has never discussed Russian interference in the 2016 election with Stone.
Stone’s criminal trial began on Wednesday morning. The 67-year-old is facing charges stemming from former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation for alleged witness intimidation and false statements to the House Intelligence Committee.
The Special Counsel’s Office, which turned the case over to the Department of Justice after the conclusion of their investigation, claims that Stone lied about his interactions related to WikiLeaks’ release during probes by Congress and Mueller’s team.
It remains to be seen whether Stone will choose to testify in his own defense during the trial. Stone’s lawyers argued that the former Trump adviser did not appear before the House Intelligence Committee with the intention of lying.
Stone is not accused of conspiring with Russia or WikiLeaks in the hacking or publishing of emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. However, prosecutors alleged during opening statements that after Stone learned in July 2016 that WikiLeaks was going to release hacked DNC emails, he emailed then-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort saying he had an idea to “save Trump’s ass.”
Stone also allegedly emailed Bannon, saying that Trump could still win the election, “but it ain’t pretty.” Prosecutors also said they had evidence that Stone called Trump twice during the same time period, but they did not know what was said.
Stone’s case drew national attention after he was arrested in a January pre-dawn raid by armed FBI agents. U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson later issued a gag order in the case, after Stone’s frequent statements to the media and a controversial Instagram post featuring an image of Jackson with crosshairs.
Fox News’ Jake Gibson, Ronn Blitzer and The Associated Press contributed to this report.