In a new development now under scrutiny by the special counsel probing alleged Russian influence into the 2016 presidential election, veteran Republican political strategist Roger Stone has admitted to a previously undisclosed meeting with a Russian national in May 2016.
The flamboyant Stone briefly served as an adviser to the Trump campaign in 2015, momentarily creating controversy over whether Stone left on his own volition or was dismissed by Trump. Stone remained an informal adviser and media surrogate to Trump for the duration of the election cycle.
According to The Washington Post, Stone was lured to the meeting by a promise of acquiring damaging information on Donald Trump’s presidential foe, Hillary Clinton.
The report, confirmed by a second GOP strategist, Michael Caputo, to CNN reveals a Russian business associate of Caputo brokered an introduction to Stone with Henry Greenberg.
In a pair of letters dated June 15 written by Stone and Caputo’s attorney addressed to the House Committee on Intelligence, Stone admitted to the introduction and meeting with Greenberg in Florida.
Stone is said to have met Greenberg, who claimed he had access to political intelligence on Clinton and demanded Trump pay $2 million for the harmful information.
Swiftly rejecting the ultimatum, Stone claims he told Greenberg, “(Trump) doesn’t pay for anything.”
At the conclusion of the meeting, Caputo claims he contacted Stone, who declared the meeting was a “waste of time” due to an excessive amount of money demanded by Greenberg.
While both men have submitted to interviews with congressional investigators, neither have admitted to the meeting prior to Sunday’s story published by the Post.
Although both Stone and Caputo have deep ties to GOP politics and were at times associated with the Trump campaign, neither were working in an official capacity with the Trump presidential bid when the meeting took place.
Both Stone and Caputo now believe Greenberg, who has used the alias Henry Oknyasnky and has claimed to be a past FBI informant, was part of an FBI sting operation.
Despite both Stone’s and Caputo’s claims over Greenberg’s motives, no evidence exists to support either man’s speculation Greenberg was acting on behalf of the FBI.
“I want to know who at James Comey’s FBI thought it was a good idea to direct a violent international criminal in our country illegally to contact my family and Stone’s family,” Caputo said.
For his part, Greenberg originally denied taking part in the meeting but later told the Post he met with Stone along with an ex-Clinton Foundation employee from Ukraine named Alexei who had brought up the demand for money.
Responding to the report, President Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, told CNN’s Jake Tapper it was highly unlikely Trump was aware of the meeting prior to or after the meeting took place.
[AP] [Washington Examiner] [Photo courtesy Michael Schwartz/Getty Images via Axios]