Mar 13, 2018

Report: Roger Stone claimed he spoke to Julian Assange in 2016

Roger Stone speaks to reporters at the Capitol right after appearing before the House Intelligence Committee. Photo: Mark Wilson / Getty Images

Political operative Roger Stone, an informal adviser to the Trump campaign, told two of his associates in 2016 that he'd been in touch with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, per the Washington Post. An anonymous Stone associate cited in the report — the other is Sam Nunberg — claimed that Stone discussed hacked emails from the DNC and Hillary Clinton campaign chair John Podesta in Assange's possession in the spring of 2016.

Why it matters: If the claims about Stone are true, he would have known about the hacked DNC and Podesta emails — which the U.S. intelligence community determined came via a Russian hack — months before their eventual release by WikiLeaks later in the summer and fall of 2016.

  • Nunberg said Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team asked him to describe a conversation he had with Stone in 2016, in which Stone claimed he met with Assange.
  • Stone's response, provided to WashPost: "I wish him no ill will, but Sam can manically and persistently call you ... I said, 'I think I will go to London for the weekend and meet with Julian Assange.' It was a joke, a throwaway line to get him off the phone. The idea that I would meet with Assange undetected is ridiculous on its face."
  • More Stone: "The allegation that I met with Assange, or asked for a meeting or communicated with Assange is provably false."
  • Stone says he never left the country in 2016.

Go deeper

Netanyahu says July 1 deadline for West Bank annexation won't change

Photo: Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday at a Likud Party faction meeting at the Knesset, Israel's parliament, that his July 1 deadline for starting the process of annexation in the West Bank will not change, according to people in attendance.

Why it matters: The White House and the State Department have stressed over the last few weeks that the deadline set by Netanyahu is "not sacred" to the Trump administration — and that any discussion of annexation needs to be in the context of renewed Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

Trump threatens to move Republican convention from North Carolina if capacity reduced

President Trump on stage during the 2016 Republican National Convention in Ohio. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images

President Trump threatened in a series of Monday tweets to move this summer's Republican National Convention from Charlotte if North Carolina's Democratic governor, Roy Cooper, doesn't allow the event to be held at full capacity.

The state of play: Mandy Cohen, the state's health and human services secretary, said last week that the GOP should "plan for the worst" as mass gatherings will be a "very big challenge" if the number of coronavirus cases in the state continues to increase, per NPR.

The wreckage of summer

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

We usually think of Memorial Day as the start of the summer, with all of the fun and relaxation that goes with it — but this one is just going to remind us of all of the plans that have been ruined by the coronavirus.

Why it matters: If you thought it was stressful to be locked down during the spring, just wait until everyone realizes that all the traditional summer activities we've been looking forward to are largely off-limits this year.