Deny and Leak: Stone and Leave.EU Downplay Russia Ties
Yesterday, Roger Stone leaked a statement via Russian asset Wikileaks ahead of his appearance before the Senate branch of the Russia Inquiry.
In the Info Wars style statement, he vehemently denied any involvement of the Kremlin in the 2016 presidential election, despite a mountain of evidence from security service, public, and private sources which indicate otherwise.
Unsurprisingly, the statement was seized upon by the alt-right and across other, established Russian disinformation channels, all chanting the now familiar “Fake News” mantra.
Stone follows in the public denial footsteps of Jared Kushner and Trump Lawyer, Michael Cohen – with the latter now being forced to attend a public session, rather than the private hearing he may have hoped for.
In the rambling document, loaded with denial and hyberbole while short on facts, Stone point blank denied the involvement of Russia and claimed his own reputation had been attacked. The move was deliberately calculated, in the full knowledge the scrutiny of his statement would not be public.
This tactic is proving significantly popular with Trump's team as their time under fire arrives.
Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, underwent two days of questioning in private on Capitol Hill in July this year, releasing a public denial along the Stone lines before doing so. In truth, his evidence session prompted members of the committee to state the full inquiry may take up to two years, and also resulted in a call for more documentary evidence from the Trump White House.
The pattern repeated again, with Trump lawyer Michael Cohen releasing a public statement in anticipation of his hearing despite requests not to misbehave. The Committee responded more aggressively, cancelling Cohen's private hearing and rescheduling him for an open evidence session on October 25th.
In their statement on the issue, the Senators made no bones about their displeasure, writing: "The Committee expects witnesses in this investigation to work in good faith with the Senate."
A key area of questioning for Stone likely surrounded his personal relationship with Paul Manafort, due to be indicted for his role in Russian collusion, and Stone's active participation with hacker Guccifer 2.0 and Wikileaks in the distribution of hacked DNC emails which damaged Hillary Clinton's campaign.
Nigel Farage, a person of interest in the separate FBI investigation into Russian interference, has been linked to Stone as a potential go-between for fugitive Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.
Farage and his colleagues from Leave.EU, who have been closely tied to Russia and the Trump campaign, as well as Wikileaks, are now working closely on election influence projects across the world, in an alleged partnership with PR Firm Goddard Gunster. Additionally, they are operating an AI focused company, Big Data Dolphins, out of Arron Banks' Bristol officers and Mississippi – a further tie to Trump's key people and Russia.
Subject to ongoing investigations by both the UK Electoral Commission and the Information Commissioner's Office, Leave.EU have started to issue public statements denying any Russia connection, through spokesperson Andy Wigmore as he talked to Guardian journalist Carole Cadwalladr.
While the investigations continue, the CIA, NSA and FBI have released sufficient reports, through declassification of intelligence, to confirm Russia did target the US election. Former FBI director James Comey was also explicit on this in his own sworn testimony at his very public hearing.
EU and NATO documents, along with media and corporate investigations have also confirmed that the UK, France, Germany, and most recently Catalonia were targeted by Russia, supported by their detached and (previously) deniable assets.
Facebook and Twitter have also now been drawn into investigations, with Zuckerberg's platform handing over specific evidence of Russian funding and Twitter being requested to produce its own records.
Unfortunately for those denying Russian involvement, their remains some apparent misunderstanding about how they are connected to Putin's Kremlin and its Alternative War.
It is well established that right-wing parties across Europe have fallen to Russian influence and in some cases, that of Marine Le Pen's Front National for one example, vast sums of money were funnelled to their campaigns. They have been collaborating globally during this period, which has led the discovery of the joint enterprise guided by a single doctrine.
While the UK is currently the only nation not taking active steps to counter or investigate Russia's actions, it is likely to be drawn in over the coming years and the longer the delay, the more painful the outcome will be.
Britain leaves the EU, its biggest partner in trade and peace, in March 2019 following a referendum marred by as yet officially unacknowledged Russian influence.