Offering John Podesta Emails While Selling Deleted Hillary Emails

Back in April 2017, I noted something problematic with Democratic theories about the advance knowledge of Roger Stone — and by association, the Trump camp — of Russia’s hack and leak plans: Democrats have largely focused on Stone’s warning, on August 21, 2016, that “it would soon be the Podesta’s time in the barrel,” arguing it reflected foreknowledge of the October 2016 dump of John Podesta’s emails. Stone has said he was talking about blaming Tony Podesta for his corruption, and while that does appear to be a projection-focused defense of Paul Manafort as his own corruption posed problems for the Trump campaign, none of that explains how Stone implicated John in his brother’s sleaze.

That one comment aside, virtually every time Stone predicted a WikiLeaks October Surprise, he implied it would be Clinton Foundation documents or other ones she deleted from her home server, not Podesta emails. That is, while Stone appears to have known the general timing of the October dump, Stone didn’t predict the Podesta emails. He predicted emails deleted from Hillary’s home server, emails that never got published. Here’s how it looks in a timeline (partly lifted from this CNN timeline).

August 12, 2016: Roger Stone says, “I believe Julian Assange — who I think is a hero, fighting the police state — has all of the emails that Huma and Cheryl Mills, the two Clinton aides thought that they had erased. Now, if there’s nothing damning or problematic in those emails, I assure you the Clintonites wouldn’t have erased them and taken the public heat for doing so. When the case is I don’t think they are erased. I think Assange has them. I know he has them. And I believe he will expose the American people to this information you know in the next 90 days.”

August 15, 2016: Stone tells WorldNetDaily that, “’In the next series of emails Assange plans to release, I have reason to believe the Clinton Foundation scandals will surface to keep Bill and Hillary from returning to the White House,’ … The next batch, Stone said, include Clinton’s communications with State Department aides Cheryl Mills and Huma Abedin.”

August 26, 2016: Stone tells Breitbart Radio that “I’m almost confident Mr. Assange has virtually every one of the emails that the Clinton henchwomen, Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills, thought that they had deleted, and I suspect that he’s going to drop them at strategic times in the run up to this race.”

August 29, 2016: Stone suggests Clinton Foundation information might lead to prison. “Perhaps he has the smoking gun that will make this handcuff time.”

September 16, 2016: Stone says that “a payload of new documents” that Wikileaks will drop “on a weekly basis fairly soon … will answer the question of exactly what was erased on that email server.”

September 18, 2016 and following: Stone asks Randy Credico to get from Assange any emails pertaining to disrupting a peace deal in Libya, making it clear he believes Assange has emails that WikiLeaks has not yet released.

In a Sept. 18, 2016, message, Mr. Stone urged an acquaintance who knew Mr. Assange to ask the WikiLeaks founder for emails related to Mrs. Clinton’s alleged role in disrupting a purported Libyan peace deal in 2011 when she was secretary of state, referring to her by her initials.

“Please ask Assange for any State or HRC e-mail from August 10 to August 30–particularly on August 20, 2011,” Mr. Stone wrote to Randy Credico, a New York radio personality who had interviewed Mr. Assange several weeks earlier. Mr. Stone, a longtime confidant of Donald Trump, had no formal role in his campaign at the time.

Mr. Credico initially responded to Mr. Stone that what he was requesting would be on WikiLeaks’ website if it existed, according to an email reviewed by the Journal. Mr. Stone, the emails show, replied: “Why do we assume WikiLeaks has released everything they have ???”

In another email, Mr. Credico then asked Mr. Stone to give him a “little bit of time,” saying he thought Mr. Assange might appear on his radio show the next day. A few hours later, Mr. Credico wrote: “That batch probably coming out in the next drop…I can’t ask them favors every other day .I asked one of his lawyers…they have major legal headaches riggt now..relax.”

As I further noted, when WikiLeaks started dumping Podesta emails in October (including excerpts of Hillary’s private speeches), Stone focused more on accusing Bill Clinton of rape, another projection-based defense of Donald Trump (especially in light of the Access Hollywood tape) than he focused on the Podesta emails.

In other words, Stone may not have exhibited foreknowledge of the Podesta dump. By all appearances, he seemed to expect that WikiLeaks would publish emails obtained via the Peter Smith efforts — efforts that involved soliciting Russian hackers for assistance. That actually makes Stone’s foreknowledge more damning, as it suggests he was part of the conspiracy to pay Russian hackers for emails they had purportedly already hacked from Hillary’s server and that he expected WikiLeaks would be an outlet for the emails, as opposed to just learning that Podesta’s emails had been hacked some months after they had been.

It was Guccifer 2.0, not Assange, who claimed anyone had Clinton server documents (including in a tweet responding to my observation he was falsely billing documents as Clinton Foundation ones).

And Guccifer 2.0 was (according to Politico, not WSJ) in the loop of this effort, so may have been trying to pressure WikiLeaks to publish sets of files already sent, as he had tried to do with DCCC files earlier in August.

[Chuck] Johnson said he and [Peter] Smith stayed in touch, discussing “tactics and research” regularly throughout the presidential campaign, and that Smith sought his help tracking down Clinton’s emails. “He wanted me to introduce to him to Bannon, to a few others, and I sort of demurred on some of that,” Johnson said. “I didn’t think his operation was as sophisticated as it needed to be, and I thought it was good to keep the campaign as insulated as possible.”

Instead, Johnson said, he put the word out to a “hidden oppo network” of right-leaning opposition researchers to notify them of the effort. Johnson declined to provide the names of any of the members of this “network,” but he praised Smith’s ambition.

“The magnitude of what he was trying to do was kind of impressive,” Johnson said. “He had people running around Europe, had people talking to Guccifer.” (U.S. intelligence agencies have linked the materials provided by “Guccifer 2.0”—an alias that has taken credit for hacking the Democratic National Committee and communicated with Republican operatives, including Trump confidant Roger Stone—to Russian government hackers.)

Johnson said he also suggested that Smith get in touch with Andrew Auernheimer, a hacker who goes by the alias “Weev” and has collaborated with Johnson in the past. Auernheimer—who was released from federal prison in 2014 after having a conviction for fraud and hacking offenses vacated and subsequently moved to Ukraine—declined to say whether Smith contacted him, citing conditions of his employment that bar him from speaking to the press.

Two interesting issues of timing arise out of that, then.

First, to the extent that Stone’s tweets during the week of October 7 (the ones that exhibited foreknowledge of timing, if not content) predicted the timing of the next leak, they would seem to reflect an expectation that deleted emails were coming, not necessarily that Podesta ones were.

[O]n Saturday October 1 (or early morning on October 2 in GMT; the Twitter times in this post have been calculated off the unix time in the source code), Stone said that on Wednesday (October 5), Hillary Clinton is done.

Fewer of these timelines note that Wikileaks didn’t release anything that Wednesday. It did, however, call out Guccifer 2.0’s purported release of Clinton Foundation documents (though the documents were real, they were almost certainly mislabeled Democratic Party documents) on October 5. The fact that Guccifer 2.0 chose to mislabel those documents is worth further consideration, especially given public focus on the Foundation documents rather than other Democratic ones. I’ll come back to that.

Throughout the week — both before and after the Guccifer 2.0 release — Stone kept tweeting that he trusted the Wikileaks dump was still coming.

Monday, October 3:

Wednesday, October 5 (though this would have been middle of the night ET):

Thursday, October 6 (again, this would have been nighttime ET, after it was clear Wikileaks had not released on Wednesday):

But it also makes the October 11 email — which was shared with still unidentified recipients via foldering, not sent — reported by WSJ the other day all the more interesting. The email seems to suggest that on October 11, the “students” who were really pleased with email releases they had seen so far were talking about the Podesta emails.

“[A]n email in the ‘Robert Tyler’ [foldering] account [showing] Mr. Smith obtained $100,000 from at least four financiers as well as a $50,000 contribution from Mr. Smith himself.” The email was dated October 11, 2016 and has the subject line, “Wire Instructions—Clinton Email Reconnaissance Initiative.” It came from someone calling himself “ROB,” describing the funding as supporting “the Washington Scholarship Fund for the Russian students.” The email also notes, “The students are very pleased with the email releases they have seen, and are thrilled with their educational advancement opportunities.”

In a follow-up, WSJ confirmed the identities of three of the four alleged donors (they’re still trying to track down the real ID of the fourth).

He reached out to businessmen as financial backers, including Maine real-estate developer Michael Liberty, Florida-based investor John “Jack” Purcell and Chicago financier Patrick Haynes. They were named in an email reviewed by the Journal as among a group of people who pledged to contribute $100,000 to the effort, along with $50,000 of Mr. Smith’s own money.

If the Smith conspirators were referring to the Podesta emails stolen by GRU in the same breath as a funding solicitation for Clinton Foundation ones, it suggests that whoever Smith’s co-conspirators were, as late as October 11, they were referring to the Podesta emails in the same breath as the Clinton server ones they were still hunting for.

As I said in July, I provided information to the FBI on issues related to the Mueller investigation, so I’m going to include disclosure statements on Mueller investigation posts from here on out. I will include the disclosure whether or not the stuff I shared with the FBI pertains to the subject of the post. 

20 replies
  1. greengiant says:

    Just as Manafort and Stone have a history going back to Nixon in Stone’s case Peter Smith had quite a history as a GOP operative. Apparently the WSJ used him as a source or at least as a bird dog in their 1992 to 2000 diatribe against the Clintons. Which makes Robert Mercer an admirer of Smith’s work. Just reading the WSJ in the Clinton years would explain every anti Clinton thought in Mercer’s head. Those who missed this seem to assume Mercer is oddly self directed in his crusade.

  2. maybe ryan says:

    I wonder if this operation would be the sort of thing you might talk about with friends from church.
    Say for example, you were in private equity and your church friends included a banker for Paul Manafort?
    Is it true that in certain Protestant churches, the rite that corresponds most closely to Catholic confession is known as immunity? If a church friend were given immunity, by a lord other than Our Lord, would the penance required, rather than 3 Hail Marys or 3 Our Fathers, be the names of 3 co-conspirators?
    Just some hypotheticals I came up with. Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.

  3. Marinela says:

    Wondering if they had Hillary deleted emails, but decided they were not interesting. So they went with John Podesta emails.

    Also, anybody knows if the republicans were hacked? Hard to believe they were not hacked as well. The compromat would be the republicans damaging emails that were never released to the public.

    • pseudonymous in nc says:

      More likely that they drew a blank or were stung by fakes or made payments and didn’t get anything in return. The Podesta emails (especially after the first release) were mostly not interesting — the fact that people with too much time on their hands divined a child abuse conspiracy from them is an indication of how little substance was there.

      This post persuades me that the Podesta dump was kind of chaff. The initial DCLeaks/GRUciffer 2.0 releases seemed to pick out a few bits of the Podesta mail archive, but the rest was held in reserve while meatier DCCC/DNC docs and emails were pushed out over the summer. It’s as if the expectation was that hack-and-leak would eventually capture Clinton server or Clinton Foundation emails by the end of the campaign — “Russia, if you’re listening…” — but the clock ran out, and the stuff they already had was sufficient to flood the zone with but-her-emails through October at which point Comey made his intervention.

  4. Kevin Finnerty says:

    I only studied criminal law in preparation for the bar, so I’m very, very rusty on the subject. But I have a question about criminal conspiracies for the experts. If Peter Smith, some unknown Russian intelligence agents, and some members of the Trump campaign were in a conspiracy related to the Podesta hack, and Smith was murdered by Russian intelligence agents (assuming they were part of the conspiracy), could that crime also be imputed to other members of the conspiracy?

  5. jf-fl says:

    Your timelines are amazing resources.   However whenever people get too deep analyzing public statements of a very stable genius like trump, or a truth-teller like stone… I just wonder when signal turns into noise.   Obviously it depends on the signal but in general with many in Team Trump the signal noise barrier is more shallow than non-stable, unhidden geniuses.      Perhaps this is one of those cases where your sources are guiding your analysis though, in which case I will promptly shut up and wait.

    Primary point is it’s entirely possible stone knew exactly what was in the stolen emails AND ALSO spread disinformation about them.   Anyone who could speak english and had access to fox news would know that the words FOUNDATION and BENGHAZI (and related tropes) are how you own one side’s brain-dead, reflexive partisans.

    One line from All the President’s Men which may well make it into the ConFraudUs sequel: “The truth is, these are not very bright guys… and things got out of hand.”

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      That’s a variation on the idea that incompetence or negligence is less punishable than an intentional act.  As, “I have no recollection of that, Senator,” is a relatively lesser problem than lying under oath, and obstruction is a lesser crime than what it obstructs.

      I agree that the Don and many people around him don’t look like they could shoot a duck if it were perched on the muzzle.  But they know how to lie, cheat, and steal to enrich themselves, and to game the system without committing an obvious or provable crime.

      The too dumb to prosecute defense doesn’t go far with these guys, any more than it did with Nixon’s.

  6. oldoilfieldhand says:

    I’ve seen what one misguided executive can do to a corporation’s personnel and assets. “Not very bright guys” and their unquestioning, loyal minions who are empowered with the might of the world’s only military superpower scare the shit out of me.

  7. Lizardo says:

    Smith foldering message: “the Washington scholarship fund for Russian students”

    NRA/Torshin/Butina : “US-Russia exchange program”

    Don jr/ veselnitskaya: “discussing a Program on US Adoption of Russian Children”

  8. pseudonymous in nc says:

    One more for the timeline of that week, though I’ve mentioned it before: October 4th was when Assange gave his rambling videolink speech to the Berlin 10th anniversary conference. It was initially treated as a dud or a bluff until the Friday when the ‘Access Hollywood’ tape showed up and the first Podesta emails were subsequently dropped:

    (And Michael Cohen landed at Heathrow on the 6th.)

    Is the implication here that the Podesta release was a kind of fallback for at least some of the actors involved? The strategy and rough timing had been decided, the summer drip-feed of leaks had got the press hooked, and lacking the jackpot prize of Clinton server emails, the decision was made to go with whatever stolen goods they had in the assumption that it would be treated as an October surprise.

    It’d be gruesomely ironic if P*zz*g*t* and the Q lunacy came about because the Smith project and they needed a backup plan.

  9. LowdenF23c says:

    Off topic (please forgive the idle speculation).

    Turkey has claimed they have proof (audio, video!?!?!?) of Khashoggi’s murder by the Saudis.  Given that Turkey has released pastor Andrew Brunson. and also given that Trump most definitely doesn’t want a lot of scrutiny of MSB….What are the odds that the Administration finds a rationale for returning Fethullah Gulen back to Turkey in return for keeping the evidence quiet?

    There was recently an incident at Gulah’s Pennsylavania compound where his security detail fired off a warning shot to scare off an intruder?  A hunter lost in the woods, perhaps.  But, maybe not.

  10. Thomas says:

    I am so tired of hearing about “Hillary’s deleted emails.” No one pushes back on this, even though the pushback facts are public information.

    The right wing media (and MSM!) continue to repeat the “deleted email” story as if Hillary herself was sneaky and sitting there deleting “damaging emails.” (And about what!? Just dangle an unsubstantiated accusation)

    The facts are this: A fucking team of lawyers reviewed her emails and worked with investigators to screen out personal and duplicate emails. They swore affidavits about the contents. The “deleted email scandal” is fake news.

    There was never anything to the story at all. Right wing members of Congress and their staffers picked one part of the process and made up a scandal, and then shopped it and repeated it again and again and again.

    The Republican Party uses this tactic constantly. They are liars. They repeat their smears with rigorous discipline, and then when their lies are debunked, they are quiet. Until another lie about another “scandal” starts making the rounds, and then they add the previously debunked lie to a “list of particulars,” which consists of previously debunked lies.

    They recycle the same lies over and over. They aren’t held accountable for being serial pathological liars.

    In addition to the lies they tell to smear people, they also tell delusional crackpot falsehoods about public policies. They tell lies that defy science and observable, provable fact. They assault truth and the rule of law by pandering to prejudice, ignorance and superstition.

    The wealthy in this country deserve to be taxed at 90% again. They have too much money, obviously, since they use it to promote false personal smears, crackpot delusions, vicious prejudice, worthless superstitions and all out assaults on science and critical thinking.

    Where are the rich liberals pushing back? If they can’t be bothered to counter this amoral trash heap in the media being financed by deep pockets, then they deserve to be taxed at 90% too.

    • Marinela says:

      There is a manipulation, propaganda machine from the so called “conservatives”, but they are really way out on the right. They operate with a very deliberate plan, with talking points that get repeated over and over, regardless on what the topic is.

      They suffocate all meaningful discussions. What is scary to me is how efficient they are.

      I always question people that are trying to tell me how to think, but some people are wired differently (scientific research explains this phenomenon) and these people believe these narratives.

      The rest are enablers that are cashing in on the backs of the “deplorable”.

      Until we learn how to meaningfully communicate with opposing ideologues, there is just frustration all around.

      Don’t know how to fix it, I am frustrated, enraged, etc, but I don’t think repeating the tweets (even to criticize them) and all the normalizing from the media works for the divide.

      And I don’t think the solution will come from the rich liberals.

      Vote them out, millenniums, etc, is perhaps the silver lining, hope. They have the good energy and are more open minded than the older generation.

      Thinking about all the lives destroyed in the course of less than two years since Trump took office, in the USA, and around the world, and in many cases for no good reason.

  11. Greenhouse says:

    What made this ratfucker so confident that there was a payload coming from Russia/Guccifer, filtered through wikileaks? I mean, Stone didn’t actually see any incriminating emails. Am I missing something? Did Stone realize he had been suckered by Guccifer’s “false billing”, and thus his subsequent predictions were really just his usual ratfucking or bluffing, perhaps to get Comey to reopen email investigations? Whatever it was, Comey seems to have become the October Surprise.

    • Marinela says:

      Comey did it because of the internal pressure from the political FBI agents that were colluding with Mitch McConnell.

      • pseudonymous in nc says:

        At very least, Comey knew that it would leak to Jason “what can I say to my daughter?” Chaffetz. But he still fucked up. And while Wiener is a creep, he was also probably set up by Stone’s acolytes.

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