Roger Stone, a longtime confidant of President Donald Trump’s and a former consultant on his 2016 campaign, told the Washington Times on Friday that his conversation with Guccifer 2.0, the person or persons believed to be responsible for hacking the Democratic National Committee, was “completely innocuous.”
U.S. government officials have concluded that Guccifer 2.0 is likely an alias for hackers directed by the Russian government, and that their hacks were carried out with the intent of interfering with the 2016 election.
“It was so perfunctory, brief and banal I had forgotten it,” Stone said of his conversation with the hacker persona. “The content of the exchange is, as you can see completely innocuous and perfunctory.”
The conversation between Stone and Guccifer 2.0, which took place via Twitter direct messages, was first reported on Wednesday by The Smoking Gun. The report did not include details on what the conversations were about. However, citing two sources, The Smoking Gun reported that FBI agents investigating the DNC hack have obtained “detailed records” on Guccifer 2.0’s Twitter account.
Stone, saying The Smoking Gun report mischaracterized the conversation, then provided screenshots of at least some of his DMs with Guccifer 2.0 to the Washington Times and Salon. The conversations Stone provided took place in mid-August and early September, and do not indicate collusion between hackers and Stone.
However, the fact alone that the conversations took place could invite further scrutiny into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia. Stone is one of several Trump campaign officials reportedly under FBI investigation for possible links to Russia. Stone has dismissed the investigation as a “witch hunt.”
“I myself had no contacts or communications with the Russian State, Russian Intelligence or anyone fronting for them or acting as intermediaries for them,” Stone said in an email to Salon about The Smoking Gun’s report. “None. Nada. Zilch. I am not in touch with any Russians, don’t have a Russian girlfriend, don’t like Russian dressing and have stopped drinking Russian Vodka.”
In July, Guccifer 2.0 claimed responsibility for breaching DNC email accounts and providing the documents to WikiLeaks. Security experts and DNC officials immediately suspected the hack was the work of Russian government hackers. But in a Breitbart story published on Aug. 5, Stone pushed back on that suspicion and accused Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign of “dishonest blame-casting.”
“The DNC being hacked by one person didn’t look sinister enough,” Stone wrote. “Time for the victim card! Blame the Russians! Blame Putin! Blame Trump!”
Stone later faced scrutiny for seemingly-prescient tweets about other documents released via Wikileaks. For example, in August he tweeted “it will soon” be Clinton campaign manager John Podesta’s “time in the barrel.”
Weeks later, WikiLeaks published 20,000 pages of emails allegedly from Podesta’s account.