Published: Fri, November 08, 2019

Jury selected for longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone's trial

Jury selected for longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone's trial

The Trump confidant is accused of lying to Congress, witness tampering and obstruction of justice in connection to the Mueller probe, which investigated alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russians in the 2016 election.

Stone, who is facing charges of lying to Congress and obstructing the 2016 Russian Federation investigation, became ill and left the courtroom minutes after the first juror was called to testify.

"Mr. Stone is not feeling well", defence attorney Robert Buschel told Judge Amy Berman Jackson at the bench shortly after the potential jurors were sworn in.

'I will defeat them in court, ' Stone said earlier this year of his indictment.

By the end of the day on Tuesday, the pool of jurors had been narrowed down from 82 to 34 people. "The truth looked bad for the Trump campaign, and the truth looked bad for Donald Trump".

A trove of Stone's communications with Trump insiders including exchanges with former chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon, campaign chairman Paul Manafort, and Manafort deputy Rick Gates likely will figure prominently in the case.

Jackson said Monday that the parties are in "excellent shape to be prepared for tomorrow".

After a 12-member jury was selected, opening statements began in the trial in federal court in Washington.

Stone's trial could fill in some of the gaps that were redacted from the 448-page Mueller report.

The charges against the veteran Republican political operative - a self-described "dirty trickster" and "agent provocateur" - stem from former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation that documented Russian interference in the 2016 United States election to help Trump win.

Stone, a near friend of Trump's for over three decades that briefly served as an advisor to his 2016 presidential campaign, has maintained innocence.

Although Trump campaign bosses praised Stone at the time the WikiLeaks release took place, he has since argued that he actually took no action and simply let his interlocutors believe he was stage-managing events that were playing out on their own. US intelligence agencies and Mueller concluded the hacking was done by Russian Federation.

The trial may renew attention on efforts by Trump's 2016 campaign to capitalise on emails embarrassing to his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton that USA intelligence officials have concluded were stolen by Russian state-backed hackers.

Charging documents in Stone's case describe a message from one of Stone's contacts depicting the person in a photo taken outside the Ecuadorian Embassy - implying that he'd visited Assange - and other messages in which Stone and associates discuss the prospect of more "dumps" from WikiLeaks.

Stone and some of his associates may have been links in a chain that connected Trump in New York City with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in London, who at the time had confined himself in the Ecuadorian Embassy there.

Stone was arrested last January in an unexpected predawn raid at his home in Florida.

Jury selection is scheduled to commence following months of unusual public silence from Stone, who has been gagged by the judge in his case following a flap this year over his posts on social media. Ahead of his trial, Stone is prohibited from speaking publicly about the case and is barred from using any form of social media.

Rogow read from a letter Stone's lawyers received from the committee that said the interview would cover topics including Russian cyber activities and potential leaks between Moscow and political campaign officials.

If the jury finds Stone guilty on all counts, he could face up to 20 years in prison.

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