Before there was WikiLeaks, there was The Smoking Gun, which was founded in 1997 to bring us “exclusive documents–cool, confidential, quirky–that can’t be found elsewhere on the Web…using material obtained from government and law enforcement sources, via Freedom of Information requests, and from court files nationwide.” It was natural that anyone seeking to leak emails stolen from the Democratic National Headquarters or other top Clinton aides would reach out to The Smoking Gun, and that’s exactly what happened. Yesterday, TSG wrote up an extensive article on their contacts with Guccifer 2.0, the “online persona that U.S. officials say was created by Russian government officials to distribute and publicize material stolen during hacks of the DNC, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and Gmail accounts used by Clinton staffers like John Podesta, the campaign’s chairman.”
The main focus of their article was Roger Stone, however, who had significant online contacts with the Guccifer 2.0 persona, called him a hero, and defended him extensively against accusations that he wasn’t who or what he claimed to be. It’s a fascinating article, and it just became much more urgently interesting this morning after BuzzFeed News reported that they essentially busted Nigel Farage coming out of a meeting with Julian Assange today in Ecuador’s London embassy.
Before I get to that, though, I need to provide you with some background. Julian Assange is the founder and leader of WikiLeaks, which was the conduit the Russians used to disseminate the Clinton emails. This is the assessment of our intelligence agencies. Guccifer 2.0 openly admitted to providing WikiLeaks with the material, so if Guccifer 2.0 is a Russian-created persona, that settles the matter. Assange has lived in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012 because he is facing rape charges in Sweden and fears that he will either be imprisoned for that alleged crime or extradited to the United States.
The reason people are so interested in Roger Stone’s connections to Julian Assange is because he is a longtime close associate of Donald Trump and business partner with his campaign manager Paul Manafort, and he freely admitted on more than one occasion that he had a backchannel to Assange that provided him with advance notice on (at least the general outlines) of what they would be leaking before they actually leaked it.
But, before I get to that, let’s establish when Guccifer 2.0 contacted The Smoking Gun:
“Guccifer 2.0” surfaced on June 15, a day after The Washington Post reported that the DNC had been hacked and that security experts concluded that the Russian government was behind the intrusion.
In an e-mail to TSG, the hackers wrote, “Hi. This is Guccifer 2.0 and this is me who hacked Democratic National Committee.” After bragging that the DNC hack was “easy, very easy,” “Guccifer 2.0” noted that, “The main part of the papers, thousands of files and mails, I gave to Wikileaks.” Attached to the introductory e-mail were an assortment of documents stolen from the DNC’s servers.
While “Guccifer 2.0” subsequently shared additional documents with TSG and other reporters (and posted stolen material to the WordPress blog), the most damaging DNC material appeared on Wikileaks in late-July, days before the Democratic National Convention opened in Philadelphia.
The June 15th date is especially significant because security experts had fingered the Russians the day before, so the emergence of Guccifer 2.0 appears to have been an effort to confuse the issue. Less than a week later, Guccifer 2.0 gave an interview to Vice News in which he (they) denied working for the Russians and claimed to be Romanian. Unfortunately for the hackers, when the Vice reporters tried to talk with him [them] in Romanian, things did not go well.
Roger Stone comes into the story on August 8th (keep that date in mind):
During an August 8 speech, Stone said, “I actually have communicated with Assange” and then referred to a Wikileaks “October surprise.” Stone subsequently stated that while he had never met or spoken to the Wikileaks founder, the men had a “mutual friend” who served as an “intermediary.”
Ever since, people have been trying to discover if what Stone said was true and who his intermediary might have been. This interest only grew as it became clear that Stone definitely did have advance notice that John Podesta’s emails had been hacked.
On August 21, Stone tweeted that it would soon be Podesta’s “time in the barrel.” Stone’s Twitter predictions became more precise in the days before Wikileaks began publishing the contents of Podesta’s Gmail account on October 7. On October 1, Stone declared that “Wednesday @HillaryClinton is done.” Two days later, Stone tweeted that he was confident that “my hero Julian Assange” would soon “educate the American people.” In an October 5 tweet, Stone reported that, “Payload coming” and included the hashtag “Lockthemup.”
Stone also went on [Alex] Jones’s show on October 2 to declare that, “I’m assured the motherlode is coming Wednesday.” He added, “I have reason to believe that it is devastating.” Stone also claimed that Assange was fearful that “the globalists and the Clintonites are trying to figure out how to kill him.”
Though Stone missed the Wikileaks release date by two days, Podesta told reporters that it was a “reasonable conclusion” that “Mr. Stone had advanced warning and the Trump campaign had advanced warning about what Assange was going to do.”
Now, when I saw that Nigel Farage was visiting the Ecuadorian embassy today and couldn’t remember why seconds after he left the premises, I immediately looked to see if he had any obvious contacts with Roger Stone. It was a little easier to establish their contacts than I anticipated it would be:
Notice the date of this tweet: August 8th.
That’s the exact same day that Roger Stone announced that he had been contact with Assange through an intermediary.
Case possibly solved, right?
But who is Nigel Farage and does he have any connection to Donald Trump?
First, here’s a U.K. Telegraph piece from February 27th, 2017.
Nigel Farage enjoyed a dinner with Donald Trump and his daughter Ivanka on Saturday night after visiting the White House and discussing Brexit with the President’s advisers.
The former Ukip leader was yesterday pictured eating with the President, his family and close advisers at Trump International Hotel.
He earlier went to the White House where it is understood that he met Steve Bannon, Mr Trump’s chief strategist, and updated him on Brexit.
As that piece relates, Mr. Farage is the former head of the UK Independent Party, which is a far-right anti-immigrant Euroskeptic party that was a driving force behind pushing England to leave the European Union. Former British Prime Minister David Cameron has referred to them as “fruitcakes, loonies, and closet racists,” but they’re really not all that closeted. The UKIP movement is loosely equivalent to our own Tea Parties and perhaps even more closely analogous to Trump’s core supporters.
From Roger Stone’s tweet, we can place their dinner sometime between the Brexit vote on June 23rd, 2016 and August 8th.
Skipping ahead to the present, WikiLeaks dumped a bunch of CIA files on the internet yesterday, which also makes Farage’s visit today to Assange especially interesting.
When I read the news about the CIA leak yesterday, I half-jokingly remarked: “maybe Stone’s involved in this leak, too, and this is how Trump tries to get the Intelligence Community to back off their push to have him ousted for Russian collusion. It’s a bit of a problem that that possibility actually seems rational in this insane environment.”
I felt guilty even saying something like that aloud, but I also knew it wasn’t crazy to wonder about such possibilities. Call it a sign of the times.
We definitely know that Roger Stone had advanced warnings of the leaks and The Smoking Gun article suggests that there is evidence that Stone communicated with Guccifer 2.0 by direct message on Twitter. Stone has himself admitted getting his inside information from an intermediary with Julian Assange. He has admitted to dining with Nigel Farage in the relevant time period. Nigel Farage just met with Donald and Ivanka Trump and Steve Bannon less than two weeks ago. Nigel Farage just visited the Ecuadorian embassy in London where Assange lives and couldn’t remember why when questioned about it on the sidewalk outside.
Finally, while Stone says a lot of untrue things and even some seemingly deranged things, I wouldn’t automatically discount this:
Stone claimed recently on the pro-Kremlin RT network that a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court had approved a wiretap of his phone calls and monitoring of his email accounts.
He told the Russian network that he wasn’t sure if that was true, but he also claimed that a grand jury had been convened.
If a grand jury hasn’t been convened, one surely should be at this point.
Nigel Farage has named Vladimir Putin as the world leader he most admires, praising the Russian president’s handling of the crisis in Syria.
But the Ukip leader had less kind words for Angela Merkel, describing the German chancellor as “incredibly cold”.
In fact, his exact words when asked which leader he most admires were: “As an operator, but not as a human being, I would say Putin. The way he played the whole Syria thing. Brilliant.”
That’s almost an exact echo of how our new president talks about Vladimir Putin. And it should be noted that Putin supported Brexit and sees Angela Merkel as his most influential foe. His goal is to destroy the European Union, weaken NATO, and discredit the West. That is why he supports the UK Independence Party and undoubtedly why the newly-elected UKIP leader Paul Nuttall says he “believes Russian President Vladimir Putin and Syrian President Bashar Assad are ‘on our side’ in Britain’s fight against Islamic extremism.”
When Neera Tanden, who many expected to become Clinton’s White House chief of staff, accused Putin of funding the UKIP and Farage last September, it was Steve Bannon’s Breitbart News who raced to Farage’s defense.
Speaking to Breitbart London’s Editor-in-Chief Raheem Kassam on Breitbart News Daily, outgoing UKIP leader Mr. Farage said that the comments made by longtime Hillary Clinton confidante Neera Tanden were “slanderous” and that anyone using the epithet “far right” to describe people who believe in nation-state democracy “have lost the plot”.
So, did Nigel Farage serve as Roger Stone’s intermediary?
It looks like a strong possibility to me. Make sure Sen. Mark Warner gets wind of this because he’s the ranking member on the Senate Intelligence Committee, and he says that running down this story is the most important thing he’s ever done in his life.
Now he’s got a big lead.