MIAMI (CBSMiami) – In a wide-ranging interview, Roger Stone told CBS4 Miami that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is wasting his time prosecuting Paul Manafort because Manafort is never going to "roll over" on the President.
Stone said he spoke to Manafort, his longtime friend and former business partner, on Thursday.
"He's feisty and combative and he's not going to plead guilty," Stone told CBS4. "And he's not going to roll over on this President."
Manafort is facing a litany of charges including money laundering and failing to report his work on behalf of the pro-Russian Ukrainian government. None of the charges are directly related to the 2016 US Presidential election or Manafort's time as Donald Trump's campaign manager.
"Why they keep loading up charges on him to pressure him makes no sense to me," said Stone, "because there is nothing he can tell them that will make Donald Trump vulnerable. There is no Russian collusion."
The special counsel has also been examining Stone's role in the 2016 election and whether he was a conduit for information between the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks, the website controlled by Julian Assange that published emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman, John Podesta.
US intelligence agencies believe the emails were stolen by the Russian government and then given to WikiLeaks to embarrass Clinton and influence the election.
"I reject the idea that Assange is a Russian operative," Stone said.
Jim DeFede Interview With Roger Stone: Part II
Stone also rejected the idea that Assange could have been an unwitting dupe, used by the Russians.
"I think he's a journalist," Stone said. "He does the same thing you do. He gets his information from whistleblowers and he publishes it. I don't think we know where he gets his information."
Stone said he refuses to believe the Russians were involved in the hacking of the Democratic Party emails.
Despite bragging during the campaign that he had "communicated" with Assange, Stone now denies any direct knowledge.
"I never had any advance notice of the content, source or exact timing of the WikiLeaks disclosures," he insisted. "And I never got anything from WikiLeaks or Julian Assange or anyone else and that includes allegedly hacked emails."
Stone's name was back in the news last week after the Wall Street Journal published a story about an August 4, 2016 email Stone wrote to his former associate, Sam Nunberg, in which Stone wrote that he had "dined" with Assange the night before.
Stone said it was a joke and has provided plane tickets and boarding passes showing he was on a flight from Los Angeles to Miami at the same time he was supposedly with Assange.
"I never discussed WikiLeaks or the WikiLeaks disclosures with candidate Trump or President Trump," Stone said.
Nevertheless, Stone's name keeps coming up in the Mueller probe. Witnesses interviewed by Mueller's team say they are asked about Stone.
Jim DeFede Interview With Roger Stone: Part III
Stone said neither he nor his attorneys have been notified that they are the subject or the target of Mueller's investigation. Stone refused to say if he would agree to be questioned by Mueller.
"That is a question that we'll get to if he puts in a request," Stone said. "I would cooperate with an inquiry generally speaking, but let's take it as it comes."
Stone could potentially offer Mueller a lot of information on Trump. Stone has known Trump for nearly 40 years and was his Washington lobbyist in the Eighties.
Asked if the President should to agree to an interview with Mueller, Stone said, "I think not. I think that's unadvisable. At this point I don't think there is any evidence of Russian collusion or conspiracy or coordination. But I do think he could conceivably be vulnerable to some sort of process crime – perjury, lying to an FBI agent, so on."
Stone said he spoke to the President six weeks ago.
"I think we largely talked about the economy and how it was roaring back," said Stone, adding that the President does most of the talking when he calls.
Stone said they did not discuss the Mueller investigation.
Stone said he believed the President continued doing a good job in office, although Stone said the recent allegations against EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt were troublesome.
"Those are really problematic allegations," Stone said. "I gather that [Pruit] is extremely able and very capable but you can't drain the swamp and allow swamp-like activity."
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