Roger Stone Trial: Charges, Potential Witnesses and What It Means for Trump

Longtime Donald Trump associate Roger Stone will be in federal court this week for a trial that is expected to shed even more light on the president's 2016 campaign and its contact with WikiLeaks.

Jury selection for the trial, which is expected to last up to two weeks, begins Tuesday morning in Washington D.C. Opening statements will immediately follow the selection of the jury, starting either late Tuesday or early Wednesday. If convicted, Stone could face as long as 20 years in prison.

Stone, 67, is at the center of the question of whether the Trump campaign conspired or cooperated with WikiLeaks or Russia to leak stolen emails from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton's campaign during the 2016 election.

Before teaming up with Trump's campaign as an adviser, Stone was a longtime Republican operative. He worked as a strategist for past presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. He had also been a friend of Trump's for more than 30 years.

The trial is likely to be a spectacle. Stone has already been banned from discussing the trial on social media after posting a photo of the judge with crosshairs next to her head. He's also held various events and started a GoFundMe to try to raise money for his legal fees. Recently, prosecutors fought with Stone's lawyers over whether or not they could show a clip from the film "The Godfather Part II" during the trial.

"It seems he is determined to make himself the subject of a story," U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the District of Columbia said of Stone in July.

Here's everything you need to know about the Stone trial:

Charges

Stone was arrested by the FBI in a pre-dawn raid in January after being indicted on charges he lied to Congress and obstructed justice in the House Intelligence Committee's probe into Russian election interference.

Overall, the 24-page indictment included one count of obstructing an official proceeding, five counts of making false statements and one count of witness tampering. The charges were a result of former special counsel Robert Mueller's two-year probe into Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Shortly after he was released on bond, Stone did an interview with conspiracy theorist Alex Jones during which he said he would fight the charges.

"There are no circumstances under which I would plead guilty to these charges. There are no circumstances under which I would bear false witness against the president," Stone said. He also alleged that the charges were "bogus" and that he was possibly being framed.

Potential Witnesses

Former White House adviser Steve Bannon, Trump's deputy campaign chairman Rick Gates, conservative author Jerome Corsi and radio host Randy Credico are likely to testify in the trial.

Bannon and Stone were in contact during the 2016 campaign, according to emails obtained by The New York Times. In those emails, Stone suggested he had information that WikiLeaks was planning to release information that would be damaging to the Clinton campaign.

roger stone trial begins
Roger Stone, former adviser to President Donald Trump, leaves the E. Barrett Prettyman United States Court House May 30, 2019, in Washington, D.C. Stone's trial begins on Tuesday and is expected to last up to two weeks. Chip Somodevilla/Getty

According to the indictment, Stone and Corsi also exchanged multiple emails about WikiLeaks in 2016. Corsi told CNN after Stone was first arrested that he would be "happy to testify" and that he was "going to tell the truth, to the best of my ability."

Prosecutors also say that Stone asked Credico to act as a messenger between him and WikiLeaks' Assange. He later asked Credico to lie to Congress about the communication, texting him to "stonewall it" and even threatened to take away Credico's dog.

One person who will not be called to the witness stand is Assange, who is currently in jail in London.

What the Trial Means for Trump

Stone has vowed that he would never flip on the president but the trial is likely to stir up even more drama for Trump, who is facing an ongoing impeachment investigation from House Democrats.

The trial could produce evidence that challenges what Trump told the special counsel about WikiLeaks and the hacked emails. In written testimony, Trump said he "did not recall" being told during the campaign that Stone or anyone else had discussions about the WikiLeaks hack. If it turns out that Trump lied to the special counsel, it could be a crime.

Stone's trial is also going to put the Mueller report back into the national spotlight at the same time House Democrats consider whether Trump's attempt to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate political rival Joe Biden was an impeachable offense. While Mueller's report did not find any collusion with Russia, it did not exonerate the president's behavior.

Days before the trial began, Stone told CBS 12 News that it's been "quite some time" since he last spoke to Trump. But he did come to the president's defense in the Ukraine controversy.

"I think the president's done nothing wrong," Stone said. He added that he "read the transcript of that phone call, as did every American, and I still don't see any impropriety about what the president did."

Roger Stone Trial: Charges, Potential Witnesses and What It Means for Trump | U.S.