Key Dem says Trump advisers were 'lying through their teeth' when testifying about Russia contacts

WASHINGTON — A top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee says he believes longtime Donald Trump adviser Roger Stone and an associate were “lying through their teeth” when they testified before his panel and they both should be investigated for perjury.

Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., made the comments about Stone and another one-time Trump adviser, Michael Caputo, during an interview for the Yahoo News podcast “Skullduggery.”

Swalwell focused on recent revelations that, at Caputo’s instigation, Stone met during the 2016 campaign in Florida with a Russian immigrant and sometime FBI informant named Henry Greenberg who offered “dirt” on Hillary Clinton.

Neither Stone nor Caputo mentioned the meeting when they testified last year before the House Intelligence Committee about their contacts with Russians—a failure that both men have attributed to the fact that they had forgotten about it.

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Roger Stone through the years
Political advisor Roger Stone poses for a portrait following an interview in New York City, U.S., February 28, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
UNITED STATES - JANUARY 03: Attorney Roy Cohn (c.) with Roger Stone (l.) and Mark Fleischman (r.). (Photo by Richard Corkery/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
American Ronald Reagan and Roger Stone at the Chrysler Plant, Detroit, Michigan, September 20, 1980. (Photo by Robert R. McElroy/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 06: Roger Stone speaks to the media at Trump Tower on December 6, 2016 in New York City. Potential members of President-elect Donald Trump's cabinet have been meeting with him and his transition team over the last few weeks. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON - MARCH 21: Paul Manafort, Roger Stone and Lee Atwater are young political operatives who have set up lobbying firms. (Photo By Harry Naltchayan/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
CORAL GABLES, FL - DECEMBER 09: Roger J. Stone Jr. discusses and signs copies of his book 'The Man Who Killed Kennedy: The Case Against LBJ' at Books and Books on December 9, 2013 in Coral Gables, Florida. (Photo by Vallery Jean/Getty Images)
CORAL GABLES, FL - DECEMBER 09: Roger J. Stone Jr. discusses and signs copies of his book 'The Man Who Killed Kennedy: The Case Against LBJ' at Books and Books on December 9, 2013 in Coral Gables, Florida. (Photo by Vallery Jean/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - JULY 21: Roger Stone, Ex-Donald Trump Advisor, talks with Jonathan Alter during an episode of Alter Family Politics on SiriusXM at Quicken Loans Arena on July 20, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Ben Jackson/Getty Images for SiriusXM)
CLEVELAND, OH - JULY 18: Political operative Roger Stone attends rally on the first day of the Republican National Convention (RNC) on July 18, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. An estimated 50,000 people are expected in downtown Cleveland, including hundreds of protesters and members of the media. The convention runs through July 21. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
HILTON HOTEL MIDTOWN, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - 2016/07/16: Roger Stone attends Donald Trump introduction to Governor Mike Pence as running for vice president at Hilton hotel Midtown Manhattan. (Photo by Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - CIRCA 2002: Portrait of Roger Stone (Photo by Pat Carroll/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
American Ronald Reagan and Roger Stone at the Chrysler Plant, Detroit, Michigan, September 20, 1980. (Photo by Robert R. McElroy/Getty Images)
NEW YORK CITY - AUGUST 19: Roger Stone attends Roger Stone Exclusive Photo Session on August 19, 1987 at Alan Flusser Boutique in New York City. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
UNITED STATES - MAY 12: Portrait of Roger Stone (Photo by Pat Carroll/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
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“And so to say that there was ‘failure of memory’ by both individuals to recall this meeting, I just don’t buy it,” Swalwell told Yahoo News’s chief investigative correspondent, Michael Isikoff, and editor in chief, Daniel Klaidman.

“I think they just lied through their teeth to protect the fact that they were willing and eager to take a meeting with Russians who were offering dirt,” he added.

Swalwell added that he and other committee Democrats, led by Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the ranking member on the panel, have pushed to have transcripts of closed door testimony of Stone and Caputo sent to special counsel Robert Mueller, but they have been blocked from doing so by the committee chairman, Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif.

Stone and Caputo have been “shielded  by Republicans who will not allow Mueller’s team to see the transcripts,” Swalwell said.

“The Nunes team has refused to cooperate with us on that and at least send [the transcripts] over to Mueller,” he added. “And so yes, I do believe that both Caputo and Stone, that special counsel should be able to look at that for perjury.”

The Washington Post first reported this week that in May, 2016, Stone — at Caputo’s suggestion — had met with Greenberg in south Florida and that the Russian immigrant said he could provide Trump with damaging information about Clinton for a sum of $2 million.

Stone says he rejected the offer on the spot. “You don’t understand Donald Trump,” Stone said he told Greenberg, according to the Post account. “He doesn’t pay for anything.”

The precise context for the meeting remains unclear – including where Greenberg might have gotten the “dirt” he claimed to have. Both Stone and Caputo have said nothing came of it and they now believe they were being set up by the FBI.

Yet neither Stone nor Caputo mentioned the meeting when they testified last year behind closed doors before the intelligence panel and were specifically grilled about their election season contacts with Russians. Both men had  adamantly denied any contact at all with Russians during the campaign. “I didn’t talk to anybody who was identifiably Russian during the two-year run-up to this campaign,” Stone told the Post in April 2017.

Download or subscribe on iTunes: “Skullduggery” by Yahoo News

More recently, Caputo was questioned about the Greenberg meeting by special counsel Robert Mueller’s prosecutors, prompting him to notify the committee that he wanted to amend  his testimony. He also tipped off Stone to the questions about the Greenberg meeting, prompting Stone to amend his testimony as well.

Swalwell suggested Stone’s contacts with Russians are of particular significance because the committee has “good reason to believe” he was in regular contact with Trump during the campaign.

“Stone is a self-proclaimed dirty trickster,” Swalwell said. “He was close with Donald Trump. He was communicating with individuals associated with the Russian hacks. It would be very hard for me to believe that if he was in contact with Donald Trump regularly throughout the summer of 2016 and the fall, that he would not be passing along to Mr. Trump his efforts to obtain Hillary Clinton’s deleted emails — or efforts that were passed along to him that others were taking to obtain the emails.”

Stone, for his part, has denied any wrongdoing and, during his prepared statement to the committee last year (which he released to the press), the veteran GOP consultant specifically accused Swalwell  of misrepresenting his “innocuous” Twitter messages with a Russian o-line persona in order to imply there was “collusion” between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. Both men have accused congressional Democrats of spreading what Stone called “bogus charges” about Russian collusion – with no evidence to back them up — in an effort to sully their reputations. “God damn you to hell,” Caputo said last month after testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee, saying legal costs associated with the ongoing Russian investigation had “forced” his family from its home and “crushed” his children.

Swalwell emphasized that, despite a public report released by the House Intel Committee’s GOP majority, the overall committee’s investigation is not over and that the panel is expecting to receive new documents from Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie and hear testimony from another witness whose identity has not yet been released. When asked if, based on the testimony to date, he believes there are grounds to bring articles of impeachment against Trump, Swalwell paused for a moment — and then suggested that a lot would depend on the outcome of the November congressional election and whether Democrats retake control of the House, giving investigators like Swalwell subpoena power for the first time.

He said that “because impeachment is the harshest remedy, I think you want to present to the American people and our colleagues an impenetrable case. And the best way to do that would be to have subpoena power — to look at communication logs, to look at bank records, to look at travel records and be able to show and really tighten up the case — to prove it beyond any reasonable doubt that people would have.”

More “Skullduggery” from Yahoo News:

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