Donald Trump ally Roger Stone responded Wednesday to Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s claim that he had advance knowledge of the release of Podesta’s emails, calling it a “vile smear” that he “categorically denies.”
Podesta said on the Clinton campaign airplane Tuesday: “I think it’s a reasonable assumption to — or at least a reasonable conclusion — that Mr. Stone had advance warning and the Trump campaign had advance warning about what Assange was going to do.”
“I think there’s at least a reasonable belief that Mr. Assange may have passed this information onto Mr. Stone,” Podesta added.
Stone told The Daily Caller, “I had no advance knowledge. They don’t tell me who they’re hacking, they don’t tell me who they’re not hacking, and I’m not clearing what they put out. It’s an absurdity, it would be funny if it wasn’t so outrageous.”
“I’ve admitted I’ve been in communications with Assange through an intermediary, they don’t tell me what they’re going to release. My comments have been about the gravity about what they are releasing and the accuracy,” Stone added.
Podesta claimed that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is in cahoots with the Russian government, something Stone called “false.” Podesta also said it wasn’t a coincidence that the initial batch of emails were released on the same day as the audio tape of Donald Trump saying he grabs women by the “pussy.”
Stone told TheDC that the release was actually delayed by Assange. “I was led to believe that there would be a major release on a previous Wednesday,” Stone said. The Trump ally did tweet out last Monday, “Wednesday@HillaryClinton is done. #Wikileaks.”
“As I understand it, there have been both numerous threats on Assange’s life,” Stone said as one of the reasons why the release was delayed. He also added that Assange’s “own circle of advisers” had “believed [Assange] was being used by the Trump campaign.”
Stone said that Daniel Ellsberg, the military analyst who leaked the “Pentagon Papers” to The New York Times in 1971, is among Assange’s inner circle. TheDC reached out to Elssberg to confirm Stone’s claim and has not received a response by press time.
Stone said Ellsberg and others “may have persuaded Assange that he looks partisan by moving ahead with these Hillary disclosures. So for all those reasons, evidently he decided to change his timing. I respect whatever timing he decided on as long as the material gets out to the American people.”
In response to claims that Assange is doing Trump’s bidding, Stone said, “if he has any negative information, or any information on Donald Trump he should most definitively release it to the American people.”
“They can hack into the Trump organization, I imagine they will find some unbelievable blue prints for some buildings that will be built,” Stone added. The longtime Trump confidant stressed that Trump doesn’t use email besides one account that “his secretary monitors.”
Stone has maintained that Clinton campaign efforts to connect hackings to the Russian government is “an attempt to deflect.” “The issue is not who hacked the material, it is who hacked the material. The attempt here is to draw attention from the content of the material, which appears to be quite colorful, ” Stone said.
He also added, “I don’t need the Wikileaks to educate me on the illicit activities, including money laundering for Russian interests, of the Podestas.”
The Podesta Group, which John Podesta’s brother runs, was included in the Panama Papers as a lobbyist for Russia’s biggest bank. “John Podesta makes Paul Manafort look like Mother Theresa,” Stone said.