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Trump longtime ally Stone charged in US Special Counsel probe

Roger Stone faces one count of obstruction of an official proceeding, five counts of making false statements and one count of witness tampering.

Political Strategist Roger Stone stands outside the hearing room prior to testimony by Google CEO Sundar Pichai during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, 11 December 2018. Picture: AFP

WASHINGTON - Roger Stone, US President Donald Trump’s longtime ally and presidential campaign adviser, was arrested on Friday, charged with obstruction, witness tampering and making false statements, according to a grand jury indictment made public by US Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office.

Stone, who has repeatedly said in interviews that he was likely to be indicted, is scheduled to appear at the federal courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, later on Friday, Mueller’s office said.

Stone has faced scrutiny for his support for Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign, when he implied he had access to information obtained by hackers that could embarrass Democrats, including Trump’s rival for the White House, Hillary Clinton.

A lawyer for Stone did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Stone had previously denied to Reuters that he had engaged in any criminal wrongdoing. WikiLeaks did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Stone, who was indicted on Thursday, faces one count of obstruction of an official proceeding, five counts of making false statements and one count of witness tampering, according to the Special Counsel’s Office.

According to the indictment, Stone had talked to senior Trump campaign officials about what was called Organisation 1, “and information it might have had that would be damaging to the Clinton Campaign.”

Organisation 1 matches descriptions of Wikileaks, which is dedicated to publishing secret and classified information provided by anonymous sources.

Stone was also “contacted by senior Trump campaign officials to inquire about future releases” by “Organisation 1,” according to the indictment.

Additionally, Stone “took steps to obstruct” investigations by intelligence committees in the House of Representatives and Senate into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, prosecutors said.

Stone had “sent and received numerous emails and text messages during the 2016 campaign in which he discussed Organisation 1, its head, and its possession of hacked emails.”

Stone still possessed many of those communications when he gave false testimony about them, prosecutors said in the indictment.

He also tried to persuade a witness to provide false testimony and withhold information from the congressional investigations, the indictment said.

Senator Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, had no immediate comment, according to an aide. Representatives for the heads of the two congressional committees that interviewed Stone could not be immediately reached.

US prosecutors pointed to two other individuals, including an unnamed political commentator with an online publication who regularly spoke with Trump throughout the campaign, a description that matches Jerome Corsi. They also described a radio host who Stone had known for more than 10 years, which matches the profile of Randy Credico.

Corsi declined to comment and Credico did not immediately respond to request for comment. White House officials could not be immediately reached.

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