http://www.politico.com/story/2017/09/25/roger-stone-testimony-congress-trump-243119

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Roger Stone finally came face to face Tuesday with the man he bad-mouthed for months: top House Democratic Russia investigator Rep. Adam Schiff. When he left, a swaggering Stone said he was as convinced as ever that the probe is little more than a "political exercise."

But after Schiff and his House Intelligence Committee colleagues grilled Stone for three hours in a closed-door interview at the Capitol, the lawmaker tersely accused Stone of refusing to answer at least one significant question — and suggested the longtime Trump associate could be compelled to return under the threat of a subpoena.

Schiff declined to say what question Stone wouldn't answer, but Stone himself told reporters: He wouldn't divulge the name of the person who acted as his go-between with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange last year. Stone has come under scrutiny for seeming to predict WikiLeaks' October dump of emails hacked from the account of Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign chairman, John Podesta. 

That hack, which intelligence officials believe was orchestrated by Russia and funneled to WikiLeaks, is at the center of the committee's probe into whether anyone from President Donald Trump's campaign coordinated the interference effort with the Kremlin. Stone, though, insists he has no knowledge of any such cooperation.

"I expressed my view that I’m aware of no evidence whatsoever of collusion by the Russian state or anyone in the Trump campaign or anyone associated with Donald Trump," Stone told reporters. He said he had not communicated with Trump about the testimony. "I’m not even sure he is aware that I am testifying today.”

Though his hearing was private, Stone described his interactions with committee members as entirely "professional," saying he did not call Schiff any names to his face. (He had previously called the the California Democrat "Schiffhead" and hurled other obscenity-laced insults at him.) Rather, Stone said lawmakers were all courteous and that they treated him fairly, despite his dim view of the probe overall.

Stone's comments to reporters were bereft of the fury he packed into a 47-page opening statement distributed the day before, and he appeared upbeat and relaxed after the hearing. But he nonetheless brought some of his usual drama to the appearance.

The typically smartly dressed Stone joked as he approached the media, "I wanted to give you an opportunity, all, to see fine English tailoring." He described his interview as "frank" and described what he said were sometimes testy exchanges between Republicans and Democrats on the committee. In particular, he said, a top Republican on the panel, Rep. Trey Gowdy, took exception to an aside Schiff made about Russian President Vladimir Putin. He said his dim view of many of the committee's Democrats was unchanged, though he called Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) a nice guy.

Stone became a focus of the Russia probe because he indicated in August 2016 that he had communicated with Assange through back channels. Later that month, he seemed to foreshadow the email dump when he prophesied that it would soon be “Podesta’s time in the barrel.” WikiLeaks began publishing Podesta’s emails in October. 

Stone also revealed earlier this year that he’d been in contact with Guccifer 2.0, believed to be a Russian-affiliated hacker at the center of a separate hack of the Democratic National Committee. In both cases, he said Tuesday, his communications were legal and not part of any effort to collude with a foreign power. He said the person who connected him to Assange was a journalist who he could not name because their conversation was "off the record."

He was more sober when describing the potential fate of his longtime business partner Paul Manafort, who has become an increasingly clear target of a separate criminal probe led by special counsel Robert Mueller. Stone indicated that Manafort's attorneys had informed him that Manafort expects to be indicted. 

Manafort chaired Trump's campaign in the summer of 2016, and he has come under scrutiny since for his ties to pro-Russian interests. Stone said Manafort's attorneys didn't know when he might be indicted or on what charge. He also said he had spoken with Manafort since the FBI raided Manafort's home in August.

"He believes as I do that it was outrageous," Stone said. "They not only took away two folders of documents — all of which they already had — but they photographed all of his custom Italian suits in his closet. I cannot imagine for what reason."

A spokesman for Manafort declined to comment. Stone said he himself has not had any contact with Mueller or the FBI.

Stone had raised expectations of a theatrical showing Tuesday, not least because he had said he would bring a reporter and cameraman to Capitol Hill with him. On Tuesday, Stone arrived with a reporter for InfoWars — the conspiracy-peddling pro-Trump website anchored by ally Alex Jones — who trailed him until he entered the secure hearing room.

Even while he testified behind closed doors, Stone’s presence was evident. Five supporters, who identified themselves as members of Blacks for Trump, a group that often shows up at Trump rallies in support of the president, gathered outside the hearing room to show support for Stone. Their shirts read “Trump & Republicans are not racist.”

After briefly holding court outside the room, the men left when a Capitol Police officer approached them about whether they had permission to be in a staff-only area.

Clearly relishing his moment at the center of Washington intrigue, the flamboyant Stone wrote in a Sunday tweet that InfoWars was “embed[ding] a reporter and cameraman in Camp Stone for my epic testimony.”

"Never pass up a chance to have sex, be on television or testify before a House Congressional Committee,” he added in another

And a day before his appearance before the panel, Stone posted a photo of himself reading a book titled "The Russians," which he captioned: “Preparing for my testimony before the House Intelligence Committee tomorrow 9am.”

Stone said the intelligence committee hadn’t asked him to restrict his comments to the press. But he has demanded that it release full transcripts of his interview “so that there will be no confusion or misinformation about my testimony.” 

Stone had long demanded that he testify in an open session, which would have provided a live-television platform for his colorful denunciations of the Russia probe. He had previously been slated to appear before the committee in July, only to have his hearing canceled. In a subsequent tirade on Jones’ InfoWars show, Stone ripped Democrats as “pimps” for the delay.

Stone said he hasn’t had more than preliminary contact from Senate investigators who are conducting a parallel Russia probe. But he said he’d happily appear, without a grant of immunity, if senators call on him.

Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Stone has “always been a person of interest" to the committee. And Burr's Democratic counterpart, Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, agreed that the Senate committee would "probably" want to talk to Stone as well.

Stone has proudly styled himself as a master of dark political arts since he served as an aide on Richard Nixon’s 1968 campaign. After a years-long business relationship with Trump, the men linked up in 2000 for the developer’s short-lived flirtation with a presidential bid on the Reform Party ticket.