Former White House strategist Steve Bannon gave sharply contradictory accounts under oath of his discussions with convicted felon Roger Stone about WikiLeaks, a review of official records by The Post shows.
On Jan 16, 2018 — roughly five months after he left the White House – Bannon told members of the House Intelligence Committee repeatedly that he and political operative Stone had never discussed WikiLeaks or its boss Julian Assange at any time during their relationship. The testimony, part of Rep. Adam Schiff’s Russia Investigation, was declassified and made public on May 7.
Bannon, 66, the former chairman of Breitbart News and CEO of Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, said exactly the opposite on Nov 8, 2019.
He was called as a witness for the prosecution in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s case against Roger Stone, who was charged with lying to Congress about his role in the WikiLeaks scandal, in which Democratic party emails hacked by the Russians and harmful to Hillary Clinton’s campaign were published. Stone has always denied involvement.
Under questioning from Department of Justice prosecutor Michael Marando, Bannon bluntly said that Stone had in fact discussed Assange and WikiLeaks with him before Bannon took over Trump’s campaign in August 2016, according to a transcript of Bannon’s trial testimony.
“There does appear a glaring and irreconcilable conflict in what Bannon stated in testimony before Congress and the court. What is striking is that this was not a peripheral point but one of the main areas of inquiry,” said Jonathan Turley, a professor at George Washington University Law School who testified during President Trump’s impeachment hearings.
“He has two diametrically opposite sworn statements in a high-profile controversy with dozens of attorneys in attendance,” Turley told The Post.
Though the transcript indicates Stone’s lawyers were aware of inconsistencies between Bannon’s statements on the stand and his testimony to the House Intelligence Committee, they declined to press him on the conflicting testimony.
“I expressly directed my lawyers to raise this stunning contradiction and to this day it remains a mystery as to why they didn’t,” Stone told The Post Friday, adding that he even considered dumping his counsel and representing himself.
Stone attorney Robert C. Buschel, who questioned Bannon on the stand, declined to comment.
On Feb. 20, Stone was sentenced to 40 months in prison. The longtime Trump confidante and famed “dirty trickster” was convicted of seven counts, including witness tampering and making false statements to Congress.
Stone, who is currently free on appeal, savaged Bannon over the flip-flop.
“I am deeply disappointed by Mr. Bannon’s now-documented betrayal,” he said. “I believe the prosecutors suborned perjury by Steve Bannon and I have no idea what deal he may have made for immunity or for non-prosecution.”
He reiterated his longstanding position that he had “no memory of ever discussing anything regarding WikiLeaks or Julian Assange” with his old colleague.
Bannon has offered extensive testimony to the House Intelligence Committee and spoke multiple times with Mueller in connection to the Russia probe. Despite his inconsistencies, he has never been charged with a crime.
“The comparison to the Flynn prosecution is striking,” said law professor Turley. “The investigators did not believe that [former National Security Advisor Michael] Flynn intentionally lied in their [FBI] interview. However, he was charged with false statements.”
William A. Burck, an attorney for Steve Bannon, told The Post his client may have misunderstood Schiff’s questions.
“Steve was asked a series of disjointed, compound and confusing questions over the course of days of statements and testimony. And he was not even provided the emails in question to refresh his memory,” Burck said. “In contrast, the prosecutors asked proper questions using the relevant emails—which is how an investigation is supposed to be done. The difference lies not in his testimony but in what you get from poor questioning versus proper questioning. As anyone reading the full transcript knows, Steve’s testimony, procured by subpoena, was accurate and consistent.”
STEVE BANNON’S DUELING STATEMENTS
Bannon testifying before the House Intelligence Committee on Jan. 16, 2018:
Adam Schiff: “Did Mr. Stone ever discuss with you … his communications with WikiLeaks?”
Schiff: “Or his connections with Julian Assange?”
Bannon testifying at Stone’s criminal trial on Nov. 8, 2019:
Defense attorney Robert Bushel: “Before you joined the Trump campaign on August 14th, 2016, did you ever hear Roger Stone discuss any connections that he had with Julian Assange or WikiLeaks?”
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