In the spring of 2016, longtime political operative Roger Stone had a phone conversation that would later seem prophetic, according to the person on the other end of the line.
Stone, an informal adviser to then-candidate Donald Trump, said he had learned from Wiki Leaks founder Julian Assange that his organization had obtained emails that would torment senior Democrats such as John Podesta, then campaign chairman for Hillary Clinton.
The conversation occurred before it was publicly known that hackers had obtained the emails of Podesta and of the Democratic National Committee, documents that WikiLeaks released in late July and October. The U.S. intelligence community later concluded the hackers were working for Russia.
The person, who spoke to The Washington Post on the condition of anonymity because of the federal investigation into Russian campaign interference, is one of two Stone associates who say Stone claimed to have had contact with Assange in 2016.
The second, former Trump adviser Sam Nunberg, said in an interview Monday that Stone told him that he had met with Assange — a conversation Nunberg said investigators for special counsel Robert Mueller recently asked him to describe.
Stone’s possible connection to Assange has been under scrutiny since the 2016 campaign, when he made public claims that he was in contact with the London-based WikiLeaks founder. Since then, Stone has emphatically denied any communication with Assange or advance knowledge of the document dumps by Wiki Leaks, which embarrassed Clinton allies and disrupted the 2016 campaign. WikiLeaks and Assange have also said they never communicated with Stone.
Potential contacts with Wiki Leaks have been probed by federal investigators. Peter Carr, a spokesman for Mueller’s office, declined to comment.
Stone, a longtime Trump friend, briefly worked for his presidential campaign in 2015 and then remained an adviser.
In an interview Monday, he again denied that he had any advance notice about the hacked emails or any contact with Assange. He said he only recalled having one conversation with anyone in which he alluded to meeting the WikiLeaks founder — a comment he said he made as a joke to a long-winded Nunberg “to get him off the phone.”