Trump adviser and longtime confidant Roger Stone on Thursday told NBC’s The Today Show he had zero contact with “the Russians” before, or during the 2016 presidential election.
Pressed on allegations appearing in The New York Times claiming he was being investigated by the FBI for possible Russian connections, Stone told Matt Lauer the claims were unequivocally false, adding the FBI never even reached out to him for questioning.
“Let’s make sure we get this on the record. Did you at any time as a representative of the Trump campaign, or after your time with the Trump campaign, have regular contact with Russian officials during the election?” Lauer asked.
“Categorically, positively not,” Stone responded.
“Even if it wasn’t someone who identified themselves as working with the Russian government? You’re sure there was no contact?” Lauer pressed.
“Absolutely not,” Stone replied.
Lauer went on to ask whether Stone thought it “weird” the timing of the Obama administration’s sanctions against Russia and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s vow to retaliate – which never came to fruition following a call placed to a Russian ambassador by Gen. Michael Flynn in which he allegedly discussed sanctions.
“After that phone call there was no Russian retaliation for those sanctions. Does it smell bad to you?” Lauer questioned.
“Well not as bad as the fact that the same exact story that we have read ran almost word-for-word recycled in fact from January 20, the day Donald Trump was inaugurated – the same story with the same lack of proof.”
“Doesn’t this seem strange to you?” Hallie Jackson followed up.
“I think the Russians would like to have better relations with both Donald Trump and the US. We now understand Gen. Flynn committed no crime, but the exposure, the disclosure of the fact that he was monitored by the government, that is a crime.”
President Donald Trump also addressed the media’s Russian narrative in a Tweet Thursday saying the New York Times and fake news media were pushing the story because they were upset over losing the election.
The Democrats had to come up with a story as to why they lost the election, and so badly (306), so they made up a story – RUSSIA. Fake news!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 16, 2017
Stone went on to discuss the internal politics within the Trump administration, where White House aides have steadily been trickling out leaks to the media.
Stone reiterated to the Today Show his suspicion that Trump Chief of Staff Reince Priebus may be the chief leaker.
“We see a leak in the Washington Post that the president is ‘like a clueless child.’ That didn’t come from Steve Bannon or Kellyanne Conway or Steven Miller, that I assure you,” Stone stated.
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