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Roger Stone, Ex-Adviser To Trump Campaign, Is Indicted By Grand Jury

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Roger Stone is set to appear in federal court. He was arrested in Florida. And he's been indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. The indictment says that Stone spoke with senior Trump campaign officials about organization one, which we believe to be WikiLeaks, and information it might have had that would have been damaging to the Clinton campaign. Here is reaction from White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

SARAH SANDERS: This has nothing to do with the president and, certainly, nothing to do with the White House.

INSKEEP: So Sanders says, although at one point in this indictment, we are told that someone in the Trump campaign directed a senior official to direct Roger Stone to ask Wikileaks if there was more damaging information available on Hillary Clinton. We're joined now by a former member of the Trump campaign, Sam Nunberg, who is on the line. Good morning, sir.

SAM NUNBERG: Good morning. Thank you for having me on.

INSKEEP: Having seen this indictment, which we've described on the air, is there any reason in your mind to doubt that Roger Stone acted as an intermediary between the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks?

NUNBERG: You know, it's not an easy question to answer, Steve. I know that your audience will want a yes or no. What I would say is that, if your audience can understand, I and Roger worked in and around with the president from 2011 to mid 2015. I was fired on August 3. It was, basically, a coup by Corey Lewandowski and Hope Hicks. Roger quit that next Friday. And through that time, there had been different maturations of the campaign. Certainly, in the indictment, when it says that Stone - that somebody directed senior officials, that was at a time when Rick Manafort - Rick Gates...

INSKEEP: Paul Manafort, sure. Yeah.

NUNBERG: ...Paul Manafort and Rick Gates were there. Paul was a close ally and friend of Roger's. Roger was well aware that Paul was going to be on the campaign before he was, you know, that things - that there were movements being made.

INSKEEP: Yeah.

NUNBERG: What I would basically say to Sarah Huckabee and directly to the president here is be careful because Roger was in constant communication with then-candidate Trump. I had warned Roger not to do these things. I didn't think he should do these things, one - because it looked at that time that Hillary Clinton was going to win the election. And she would go after him. No. 2 - if she didn't and James Comey had kept his job, he would certainly heavily investigate Roger. Then No. 3 - if the president were to win who's president today, it's not as if he would do anything to help Roger. And I think it's important for your audience to understand Roger's not had any - I'm not a special pleader here for him on this. But he hasn't had his legal fees paid as opposed to others, such as Corey Lewandowski and Hope Hicks. And...

INSKEEP: Are you - wait. Let me just stop you for a second there, Sam Nunberg. Are you telling me that you were aware that Roger Stone was on his way to serving as a conduit of some kind or communicator of some kind...

NUNBERG: No.

INSKEEP: ...For getting stolen emails out there and that you warned him not to do that sort of thing?

NUNBERG: No, I'm not, Steve. What I'm telling you...

INSKEEP: What did you warn him not to do that you thought he was going to do?

NUNBERG: Make public statements that he was in communication, which I didn't know were true. And they, apparently, weren't true, if you read the indictment - to make himself look - make himself a suspect because, Steve, he is not indicted here in this indictment for having any contact or doing any hacking. He's not indicted here for strategizing on when these emails were released. He had none. He was bluffing. He was trying to ingratiate himself and make himself relevant in the process. He's indicted here for allegedly lying to HPSCI and for witness...

INSKEEP: That's the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, right - and for witness tampering. That is...

NUNBERG: ...And for witness tampering.

INSKEEP: That is true. But his behavior is described. And he is, in fact - and this gets to the big question. Did the president, in some way, collude with Russia to get help during the presidential election? This describes a friend of the president, Roger Stone, serving as an intermediary between WikiLeaks, which is alleged by U.S. intelligence to have gotten a bunch of emails from Russian-connected people, connecting between them and the presidential campaign.

NUNBERG: Now I think you're misdescribing it because he - Roger was trying - excuse me. Roger was trying to get - to be an intermediary, but he wasn't. These were people that conspired against themselves. They're the gang that can't shoot straight. That's the irony of all this. The people in here - if you go through this, Roger - I mean, basically, they're indicting Roger for lying about when he spoke to Jerome Corsi and/or Randy Credico. They're talking about...

INSKEEP: You're naming a couple of people who aren't specifically named in the indictment. But you're making a good guess as to who they may be. Is that correct?

NUNBERG: Correct.

INSKEEP: Yeah, OK.

NUNBERG: And Roger - I think, once again, this does not show that Roger or the Trump campaign had those emails and/or did - and/or colluded directly with Russia. So with that said, I'm not going to - I'm not here to defend Roger's actions during the investigation either because that was one of the reasons, Steve, that I didn't talk to him after my grand jury because I didn't want to be called back to the grand jury. I didn't want to get him in trouble for anything if he talked to me about anything. And I think that this is something that's, therefore, sad. It didn't have to happen had he just simply cooperated and been truthful because...

INSKEEP: Sam...

NUNBERG: At the end of the day, he has not been charged for hacking.

INSKEEP: Sam Nunberg...

NUNBERG: He has not been charged for - yes.

INSKEEP: Sam Nunberg, thanks for taking the time to talk with us. I really appreciate it.

NUNBERG: Thank you, Steve.

INSKEEP: Sam Nunberg is a former Trump campaign official. NPR's Tamara Keith has been listening along with us and is on the line. Tamara, what do you hear there?

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: Well, there's a lot there. Sam Nunberg does point out that he has also testified before the grand jury and also has testified before congressional committees about this time. What does stand out is that in this indictment, there are numerous instances where Roger Stone talks to Trump campaign officials and tells them things that are going to happen. And then those things, more or less, do happen.

INSKEEP: Yeah.

KEITH: On October 4, 2016, the indictment alleges that he was in communication with a couple of different Trump campaign-affiliated people, telling them, don't worry. Wikileaks is going to come through. They're going to have a dump of stuff every week until the election. And then on October 7, WikiLeaks started releasing Clinton campaign emails in tranches every few days.

INSKEEP: Just got a few seconds here, Tamara Keith - how important were those WikiLeaks email dumps to the overall campaign that you covered?

KEITH: Well, let's just say the first dump came on the day that the "Access Hollywood" video came out. It was the darkest moment of the Trump campaign. And pretty quickly, the attention turned away from that and to the drip, drip, drip of emails from the Clinton campaign that were leaked out.

INSKEEP: Tamara, thanks for the insight - really appreciate it.

KEITH: You're welcome.

INSKEEP: NPR's Tamara Keith talking with us on this day that we have learned of the indictment and arrest of President Trump's friend and longtime adviser Roger Stone. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.