Trump Adviser Roger J. Stone Communicates With Hackers

This weekend, Roger J. Stone Jr., a political consultant and advisor to President Donald Trump, said that within the last year he has communicated with an online hacker “Guccifer 2.0” and that the exchange was “completely innocuous.”  Furthermore, he claims that he had forgotten about the private Twitter exchange because it was “brief and banal.”

“Guccifer 2.0” is an anonymous online account that is believed to be at the forefront of Russian intelligence officials. The Washington Times argues that the hacker is a self-described Romanian. Either way, American intelligence agencies have “high confidence” that the hacker compromised the Democratic National Committee (DNC). In addition, Guccifer 2.0 was a persona created to release “U.S. victim data” and related materials to WikiLeaks. The New York Times said that during the presidential campaign Guccifer 2.0 used social media to urge reporters and Republicans to request specific documents. The U.S. government told CNN to conclude that Guccifer 2.0 is a front for the Russian military intelligence to hack the DNC and influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.

Before the week of March 5, Mr. Stone remained adamant in denying any knowledge about the DNC or Russian hackers. However, according to a report in the online news site The Smoking Gun, Stone has confirmed his association with Guccifer 2.0. Moreover, Stone released screenshots of the messages between him and Guccifer 2.0 and posted them on his blog. The messages said that Stone was “delighted” to see Guccifer 2.0 reinstated after Twitter’s temporary ban on the account. Two days later, Stone privately messaged Guccifer 2.0 and asked them to retweet a column about the prospects for the 2016 presidential election being “rigged.”

After Trump’s recent firing of Michael Flynn for private communication and ties with the Russian ambassador, Stone’s connection continues to reflect negatively on Trump. Stone’s communication with the DNC hacker delegitimizes the competency of Trump’s advisors and his administration. Furthermore, Trump has known Stone for decades, and Stone advised Trump both informally and formally throughout Trump’s 2016 campaign.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Stone tweeted profanity-laced and unsubstantiated claims on Twitter. Moreover, he wrote that he has a “perfectly legal back-channel” to Julian Assange. According to U.S. intelligence, Assange’s organization, WikiLeaks,  stated that the published emails related to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign were provided by Russian intelligence. Stone was recorded on video during a Florida rally that he has “actually communicated with Assange.” However, in an interview with CBS he denied having “direct conversations” with Assange. The Guardian reported that he had not have “advance knowledge” of the matter of either subsequent disclosures or who “did or did not hack.”

Lauren Livingston