Dispatch January 31, 2019

Roger Stone’s Successful WikiLeaks Backchannel

If the allegations prove true, Roger Stone’s indictment doesn’t just reveal the Trump campaign attempted to establish a backchannel to WikiLeaks; it shows that they succeeded, gaining inside knowledge that helped create a scandal that dogged Hillary Clinton’s candidacy.

Stone’s first tip from his intermediaries: Focus on Hillary’s health.

  • According to the indictment, the first WikiLeaks dump in July 2016, “a senior Trump campaign official was directed to contact STONE about any additional releases of damaging information.” (Stone has pleaded not guilty to the charges.)
  • Stone allegedly passed the request to Jerome Corsi, who responded that it “would not hurt to start suggesting HRC old, memory bad, has stroke—neither he nor she well. I expect that much of next dump focus.”
  • The right-wing media obliged, beginning an all-out push to paint Clinton as suffering from a whole host of (fabricated) neurological problems. That speculation soon spread to Trump surrogates like Rudy Giuliani and Katrina Pierson—and Donald Trump himself.

Then, WikiLeaks delivered.

  • After two weeks of right-wing fulmination, WikiLeaks joined in, coupling email exchanges in which Clinton and her aides discussed “decision fatigue” with an email from two months later about prescription sleep medication.
  • The insinuation: Clinton was looking into “wakeup pills” for herself.
  • The next day, WikiLeaks and Gateway Pundit resurfaced emails from 2012 in which Clinton and an adviser discussed a concussion she had recently suffered, before Corsi himself picked up the thread on Twitter.
  • After Clinton’s bout of pneumonia in September, Trump and the right-wing media turned her health into a major scandal—thanks in part to more strategically timed fodder from WikiLeaks, now including emails Russian hackers had stolen from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.

The emails show how the backchannel worked.

  • The emails WikiLeaks highlighted in August came from a Freedom of Information Act request related to Clinton’s private server but went almost entirely unnoticed up until then.
  • The timeline suggests Corsi’s insider information was correct: WikiLeaks did, in fact, have emails about Clinton’s health; they just needed their Trump-world accomplices to look for that specific needle in the haystack.

Manufactured furor over Clinton’s health is the latest in a series of impeccable synchrony discovered between WikiLeaks and the Trump campaign.

  • The most glaring example: when WikiLeaks began publishing emails from Podesta’s inbox just 29 minutes after The Washington Post published the “Access Hollywood” tape—something Corsi now claims Stone helped coordinate to change the news cycle in Trump’s favor.
  • A lesser-known instance: Russian propagandists and the Trump campaign pounced extraordinarily quickly on the one email exchange out of thousands that would help Trump with Catholic voters.

It’s been clear for a long time that the release of emails stolen from the Clinton campaign was the centerpiece of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. The indictment of 12 GRU agents last year showed how Russia allegedly got the emails to WikiLeaks in the first place. Stone’s indictment fills in some of the last remaining gaps as to how the last step—coordination between the Trump team and WikiLeaks—played out.