WASHINGTON — Sam Nunberg, a longtime associate of Roger Stone, told TMN on Friday that he is confident Stone did not know the actual identity of Guccifer 2.0, whom the Justice Department named as an alias for Russian military officials seeking to sway the 2016 election.
“Roger, I could tell you, always told me that he did not believe that Guccifer was Russian. He did not believe that the Russians actually hacked the emails from the DNC or Podesta,” Nunberg said. “Under what Roger told me, I don’t see how he’s part of a grand conspiracy there.”
Nunberg noted that it was more likely Stone believed the emails were actually stolen from Seth Rich, a 27-year-old DNC staffer who was fatally shot on a Washington, D.C. street in the early morning hours of July 10, 2016. The killing remains unsolved.
In a newly unsealed indictment Friday, the Justice Department claimed that 12 members of the Russian military’s intelligence branch assumed the identity of Guccifer 2.0, purportedly a lone Romanian hacker, in order to disseminate stolen emails.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said during a press conference that the hackers corresponded with American citizens, but emphasized that the indictment does not state that the Americans knew the hackers’ true identities.
The American participants included a “person who was in regular contact with senior members of the presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump,” but a name is not specifically mentioned.
However, details of a conversation between Guccifer 2.0 and the unnamed person mirrors messages released publicly by Stone, a conservative political operative with ties to Donald Trump dating back decades.
Nunberg also suggested that Stone’s contact with the Trump team may have been overstated in the indictment.
“Roger certainly was in contact with [former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort] when Manafort was controlling, was the head of the campaign,” Nunberg said. “I’m not sure the kind of contact he had with the campaign once Manafort was out.”
“With that said, that would hurt the argument that when the wide breadth of these emails were released that Roger was in frequent communicado with the Trump campaign because I don’t believe he was,” Nunberg added. “I could be wrong. That’s for others to answer.”
Manafort resigned from his position in August 2016, weeks after WikiLeaks released emails that been hacked from the Democratic National Committee.
Friday’s indictment comes three days before President Donald Trump is scheduled to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland, a something that Nunberg called into question.
“Why would they do that?” Nunberg asked. “[Rosenstein is] setting up the president. That’s almost entrapment by him trying to get the president to hold it back.”
Nunberg briefly served on the Trump campaign in its early days, but drew headlines this year after he publicly refused to cooperate with Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III, who is probing potential collusion between the Russian government and the Trump campaign.
After a swath of colorful media appearances, which the White House derided, Nunberg relented and ultimately worked with investigators.