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Roger Stone Charged With Obstruction in Mueller Probe

Roger Stone, a longtime Republican strategist and sometime confidant of President Donald Trump, was arrested in Fort Lauderdale on Friday after being indicted by a grand jury as part of the U.S. probe into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia before the 2016 U.S. election.

Stone, 66, is facing seven counts: one count of obstruction of an official proceeding, five counts of false statements, and one count of witness tampering, according to the U.S. Justice Department.

Stone will make an initial appearance at 11 a.m. Friday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Lurana S. Snow at the federal courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, according to the special counsel’s office.

A self-described political showman and dirty trickster whose career dates to the Nixon administration, Stone was a Trump campaign aide until his abrupt departure in August 2015, but he remained an informal adviser.

Stone has given varying accounts about whether he had advance knowledge that WikiLeaks would post a cache of private emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee, some of which embarrassed Democratic leaders and led to the resignation of the party chairwoman in the final weeks of the 2016 presidential campaign.

Even so, he has acknowledged exchanging private Twitter messages with an account claiming to be Guccifer 2.0, a hacker persona linked to the Russian government. A U.S. indictment of 12 Russian hackers thought to be responsible for the DNC email theft referred to an unnamed American close to senior members of the Trump campaign who was in contact with the hackers. Stone told CNN just after the July indictment that he was “probably” that person.

Before the emails were made public in October of 2016, Stone gave a speech and posted a series of tweets that seemed to foreshadow their disclosure and acknowledge that he served as a “backchannel to Assange,” referring to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Since then he has denied any prior knowledge of the stolen emails. U.S. prosecutors and intelligence agencies say that hackers commissioned by the Russian government were responsible for the theft.

CNBC, citing unnamed people familiar with the matter, reported on May 3 that Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating Russian election interference, was focusing on interactions between Stone and Trump’s deputy campaign chairman, Rick Gates, who pleaded guilty in February to two counts stemming from the Russia probe and is cooperating with Mueller.

Gates had a longtime business relationship with the campaign’s chairman, Paul Manafort, who once ran a Washington lobbying firm with Stone. Manafort is cooperating with Mueller after pleading guilty in September [2018] to conspiring against the U.S.

As recently as May 7, Stone was saying that he hadn’t been contacted by Mueller’s team. He has denied taking part in any collusion with Russians.