There is an insane amount of news right now. So much so that this fact is likely getting buried under the legitimately terrifying John Bolton hiring to help run Trump’s foreign policy, the Austin bomber, and the looming government shutdown that President Trump tweeted about this morning—but this is a big deal. Roger Stone has advised Donald Trump since the 1980s, and during the 2016 election, he admitted to communicating with “Guccifer 2.0” after The Smoking Gun learned that the two had exchanged direct messages on Twitter (which are private messages that no one else can see). Per TSG:
Stone said he thought his “entire communication” with “Guccifer 2.0” “was on twitter for the world to see.” The “brief exchange was public,” Stone contended. The 64-year-old Stone, who revels in his reputation as a dirty trickster, added he was unsure that the “Guccifer 2.0” on Twitter “is really him.” With the exception of “Guccifer 2.0” replying to one Stone tweet and directing a second tweet at the Republican operative, their Twitter accounts reflect no public back-and-forth communication.
Last night, The Daily Beast confirmed what we all suspected:
Guccifer 2.0, the “lone hacker” who took credit for providing WikiLeaks with stolen emails from the Democratic National Committee, was in fact an officer of Russia’s military intelligence directorate (GRU), The Daily Beast has learned. It’s an attribution that resulted from a fleeting but critical slip-up in GRU tradecraft.
That forensic determination has substantial implications for the criminal probe into potential collusion between President Donald Trump and Russia. The Daily Beast has learned that the special counsel in that investigation, Robert Mueller, has taken over the probe into Guccifer and brought the FBI agents who worked to track the persona onto his team.
This is not the first time that Stone has been connected to a suspected Russian cutout. He tweeted about Wikileaks a lot during the election, demonstrating possible advance knowledge about John “Podesta’s time in the barrel” a couple months before his e-mails were leaked by Wikileaks every day during the run up to the election in October. Or his vague prediction that may or may not have come true: Wednesday@HillaryClinton is done. #Wikileaks (Stone was suspended from Twitter so the links to those tweets are no longer available, but here are the remnants of one in my piece examining Russian influence in Trump’s campaign from October 2016).
Stone wrote an article in Breitbart, titled “Dear Hillary: DNC Hack Solved, So Now Stop Blaming Russia.” The entire thing points the finger at Guccifer 2.0 for orchestrating the DNC hack:
I have some news for Hillary and Democrats—I think I’ve got the real culprit. It doesn’t seem to be the Russians that hacked the DNC, but instead a hacker who goes by the name of Guccifer 2.0.
At best, Roger Stone was being unwittingly manipulated by Russian military intelligence. At worst, he was consciously aiding an operation to deflect blame off the Kremlin and on to a surrogate covertly backed by the Kremlin. This is real bad news for Roger Stone, and if you’re looking for an explanation for Sam Nunberg’s blitz across cable news to separate his “father figure,” Roger Stone, from the Russia investigation, this is likely it based off of what we know right now. Roger Stone was communicating with Russian military intelligence during the 2016 election and the special counsel tasked to investigate Russian influence in the 2016 election has subpoenaed Sam Nunberg’s communications with Roger Stone. No wonder Nunberg was so spooked.
Jacob Weindling is a staff writer for Paste politics. Follow him on Twitter at @Jakeweindling.