President Donald Trump may have further complicated his legal defense with a phone call to Roger Stone, who is at the center of multiple investigations into potential Trump campaign collusion with the Kremlin.
Ryan Lizza reported in The New Yorker that two sources with direct knowledge revealed President Trump called Roger Stone on the morning of May 11th.
“Why is the President still reaching out to figures in the middle of the Russia investigations?” Lizza asked. “Previous reports have noted that Trump has also been in touch with Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn, two figures targeted by the F.B.I.’s Russia probe. Add Stone to the list of former top Trump aides who, despite being under investigation, are still winning attention from the President.”
The Roger Stone report on @CNN is false – Fake News. Have not spoken to Roger in a long time – had nothing to do with my decision.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 10, 2017
Stone’s alleged role in suggesting the White House fire FBI Director James Comey makes the call from President Trump look like a cover-up.
“Firing the F.B.I. director, according to several legal scholars, could be obstruction of justice. This made it worse,” The New Yorker concluded. “The President of the United States was not just talking to one of the subjects of the F.B.I. probe but also, if the CNN and Politico reports were accurate, colluding with Stone to terminate the head of the investigation.”
Roger Stone’s claims of a “back channel” to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is one of the multiple angles being investigated.
“Is it a coincidence that Roger Stone predicted that John Podesta would be a victim of a Russian hack and have his private e-mails published and did so even before Mr. Podesta himself was fully aware that his private e-mails would be exposed?” House Intelligence Committee ranking member Adam Schiff (D-California) wondered at a March hearing.
Former Obama White House ethics counsel Norman Eisen told The New Yorker, “Trump just added another item to the investigators’ checklist.”
Stone has publicly sparred with Jared Kushner, who is also under FBI scrutiny.
“Sources tell me the president’s son-in-law enjoys a very lively text exchange with Joe Scarborough, and that Scarborough’s repeated attacks on Steve Bannon, not to mention some of these attacks on the president, clearly are being manipulated by Jared Kushner,” Stone said in April. “Joe Scarborough is no friend of the president, he revels in passing fake news.”
Earlier this month, the FBI raided the Annapolis office of a Republican firm linked to Stone and Manafort.
Both Roger Stone and Paul Manafort have turned over documents to the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Stone has had his Twitter account shut down twice so far in 2017.