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Roger Stone denies collusion with Russia during Trump campaign

Republican political consultant Roger Stone testified Tuesday to a House committee investigating whether President Trump's aides had improper contacts with Moscow during last year's campaign.

Stone later denied to reporters that he had cooperated with Russian agents or operatives during the race, and said he knew of no one else who did so either.

"I am aware of no evidence whatsoever of collusion by the Russian state or anyone in the Trump campaign," Stone said after he had appeared for nearly three hours in a closed-door session of the House Intelligence Committee.

But Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) told reporters that Stone, a combative Republican operative who began his career under President Nixon, had declined to answer some of the panel's questions, raising the possibility that Stone might be called back under subpoena.

"We hope that he will cooperate in the future," Schiff said. "If not it will be necessary to subpoena him to bring him back and answer those important questions."

Schiff declined to say what questions Stone had declined to answer.

Like Trump, Stone is outspoken and given to spinning conspiracy theories. He left the Trump campaign soon after it was launched in mid-2015 but continued to maintain contact with Trump.

He landed in the Democrats’ cross-hairs partly due to his own boasts and tweets.

Congressional investigators are especially interested in learning how Stone was able to predict last summer that WikiLeaks would soon disclose digital documents related to Democrat Hillary Clinton’s campaign  — a prediction that proved accurate.

WikiLeaks released thousands of private emails pilfered from computer networks used by the Democratic National Committee days later, including some that undermined Clinton's campaign.

Stone said after his testimony Tuesday that he had refused to identify his source. He said an "opinion journalist," who he said was in touch with fugitive WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, had told him that the anti-secrecy website was planning to publish the stolen emails.

In another incident last summer, Stone appeared to also foreshadow the release of emails allegedly stolen by Russian hackers from the Gmail account of Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta, by tweeting that “it will soon [be] Podesta’s time in the barrel.”

Podesta's pilfered emails appeared online soon after.

Stone released a 47-page statement to the committee that accused Democrats on the panel of making "probably false statements" about links between Trump campaign aides and Russia.

Though Stone volunteered in March to appear before the panel, he called the closed-door hearing "a political proceeding" and accused the committee of cowardice for not letting him testify in public.

The panel is one of four congressional committees investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether Trump aides and family members had improper contacts with Moscow.

Stone said he had not heard from special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, who is overseeing a separate criminal probe into Russian contacts with Trump's aides and into the White House response to the scandal. 

Investigators from Mueller's office are expected to begin interviewing White House aides in coming weeks, an official familiar with the probe said.

Roger Stone in Florida in March (Michael Ares / Palm Beach Post)
Roger Stone in Florida in March (Michael Ares / Palm Beach Post)

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