-- Political strategist Roger Stone, longtime friend and adviser to President Trump, doubled down on his defense against allegations that he or others in the Trump campaign may have colluded with Russia in its interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
“I have had no contacts or collusion with the Russians,” Stone told ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos on “This Week” on Sunday. “There is no collusion, none -- at least none that I know about, in Donald Trump's campaign for president.”
Stone also slammed the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam Schiff of California, saying he is “full of Schiff.”
At a public hearing last week, Schiff stated that Stone made comments in August 2016 about his communication with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, and that questions remained about Stone's comments about Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta, and his contacts with a hacker persona known as Guccifer 2.0.
Stephanopoulos asked Stone about a tweet he sent on August 21 which read, “Trust me, it will soon be Podesta’s time in the barrel.”
Weeks later, Podesta’s emails were hacked and posted to WikiLeaks. U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia was behind the email hacking of Podesta and other Democrats.
“That was your tweet,” Stephanopoulos said to Stone on Sunday. “And two months later the emails came out.”
“Correct,” Stone said. But, he said his tweet made no mention of Podesta’s emails. Stone insisted he was referring to Podesta’s business dealings.
“I never made any reference to John Podesta’s email. There were a dozen stories about his business dealings published after that [tweet],” Stone said.
Stone has volunteered to appear before the House Intelligence Committee as part of its investigation into whether Russia interfered in the 2016 election and said he'd like to testify in a public hearing, rather than behind closed doors.
When Stephanopoulos asked if the committee has accepted his offer and whether Stone might receive immunity from prosecution in exchange for his testimony, the GOP strategist would only confirm that the House committee has received his offer to appear.
In regard to his contacts with the hacker known as Guccifer 2, Stone questioned whether U.S. intelligence services are correct in their assessment that the hacker is tied to Russia.
“Number one, I don’t concede Guccifer is a Russian agent,” he said. “Just because the intelligence services say something, as we know from history, does not make it true.”
Further, Stone said he has made all of his communications with the hacker public and that any suggestion the exchanges amounted to collusion with Russians are “absurd.”
“The inference that my communication -- actually my exchange with Guccifer 2, which is entirely on Twitter, both public and private, and which I have now made entirely public, -- constitutes collusion with the Russians is absurd,” he said, adding that the communications occurred before Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails were hacked and leaked to the public.
“My brief exchange with [Guccifer 2] is six weeks after the hacking of the and publication of the DNC documents, which I'm accused of colluding with him on. In other words, I would need a time machine in order to collude,” he said.
Stephanopoulos also asked Stone about former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, whose name, like Stone’s, has come up in reports on the federal investigation of Russia’s election interference.
“I have been a friend of Paul Manafort's for, I don't know, almost 50 years. We go back to Young Republicans together. He has vehemently denied any wrongdoing and I choose to take him at his word,” Stone said.