Roger Stone, a Donald Trump confidante and longtime Republican dirty trickster, communicated privately with a Russian hacking group identified by U.S. intelligence officials as the culprit in the theft of emails related to the Democratic presidential campaign.
Stone, who is under FBI investigation for his alleged ties to Russia, communicated through private Twitter messages with the "hacktivist" known as Guccifer 2.0 during the presidential campaign, reported The Smoking Gun.
Guccifer 2.0 claimed to be a lone activist committed to “fight all those illuminati,” and Stone promoted those claims, but U.S. intelligence officials believe with "high confidence" that Russia's intelligence service, GRU, operated the hacker's Twitter, WordPress and "burner" emails used to communicate with the media -- including The Smoking Gun -- and other individuals.
A source told the website that Stone, who admitted over the weekend to back-channel communications with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, exchanged private direct messages with Guccifer 2.0, in addition to exchanges on their public Twitter accounts.
Stone said, in a series of profane and combative tweets defending Trump's baseless claims that Barack Obama had wiretapped his campaign, that he had “never denied perfectly legal back channel to Assange who indeed had the goods on #CrookedHillary."
He made a similar claim in August to a group of Florida Republicans and in October to CBS News, and he seemed to know ahead of time that WikiLeaks would release emails stolen from John Podesta, Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman.
Last week, Stone denied any having "direct conversations" with Assange and advance knowledge of hacked data dumped online by WikLeaks.
The Smoking Gun, which has reported extensively on its own communications with the hackers, asked Stone whether he had exchanged private messages with Guccifer 2.0, to which he replied via text: "don't recall."
Stone, who was paid $50,000 for two months of work at the start of the Trump campaign, told the website that "numerous people who work for me have access to my twitter feed.”
The FBI is reportedly investigating Stone, as well as former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, former adviser Carter Page and former national security adviser Michael Flynn, for alleged contacts with Russian officials during the presidential campaign.
The Smoking Gun revealed that investigation was being run out of the FBI's San Francisco office, and two sources told the website reported that agents had obtained detailed records for the Guccifer 2.0 Twitter and WordPress accounts.
The sources did not say whether the records were obtained through a search warrant or grand jury subpoena, and the sources weren't sure whether investigators had gathered enough evidence to seek an indictment against anyone connected to the Guccifer 2.0 hacks.
Both Twitter and WordPress are based in San Francisco, and any records obtained by FBI agents would include IP addresses, which The Smoking Gun reported would not likely identify where Guccifer 2.0 was based because the hackers took steps to cover their tracks.
But agents would have obtained tweets and direct messages sent by the Guccifer 2.0 account, which would include any private communications with Stone -- who has known Trump for decades and is connected with both Breitbart News and Alex Jones' InfoWars website.
Stone claimed recently on the pro-Kremlin RT network that a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court had approved a wiretap of his phone calls and monitoring of his email accounts.
He told the Russian network that he wasn't sure if that was true, but he also claimed that a grand jury had been convened.
Stone, who has a reputation for dishonesty and exaggeration, did not say where he'd gotten that information.