WASHINGTON -- Trump campaign associates have denied coordinating with the Russians during the presidential election. But one of the president’s close friends and advisers is now acknowledging some contact with a Twitter handle U.S. officials considered a front for Russian intelligence.
“There’s no collusion here,” Roger Stone told CBS News correspondent Jeff Pegues, while he admitted to contact with Guccifer 2.0, the Twitter handle that released hacked election information believed stolen from Democratic Party servers.
“At the time I had my one and only communications with it,” Stone said.
“Well wait a second, you had more than just one contact with this person, you had one, two, at least three between August 12th and September 9th,” Pegues said.
“Right, I would refer to it as an exchange,” Stone replied.
That “exchange” appears to have started after Guccifer’s first account was suspended and then re-activated in mid-August.
“Delighted you are reinstated,” Stone wrote.
Guccifer responded: “do u find anything interesting in the docs i posted?”
A day later, according to messages confirmed by Stone, he asked Guccifer to retweet an article Stone had written.
“PLZ RT: How the election can be rigged against Donald Trump,” Stone wrote,
Guccifer replied “done” and later on the same day “please tell me if i can help you anyhow.”
Earlier this year U.S. intelligence concluded that the Guccifer sites were a front for Russian military intelligence; Stone says he had no idea.
“In a way you’re encouraging them to release more information,” Pegues said.
“That’s called networking, remember I have no idea that this gentleman is allegedly a Russian,” Stone said.
“Well did you at any point think it was bizarre that all of a sudden this persona was putting out this damaging information about Democrats?” Pegues asked.
“I do know this, I have not coordinated with him or communicated with him or directed him to do any of it,” Stone replied.
On at least 16 different occasions during the 2016 campaign, Guccifer disclosed Democratic Party data targeting Hillary Clinton and Democratic candidates in at least six different states.
Last weekend, Arizona Sen. John McCain called for Stone to testify in upcoming hearings. Stone defiantly told CBS News that his response to that is: game on.