Steve Bannon called as Stone prosecution witness

New York radio host Randy Credico departs federal court following his appearance at the federal trial of Roger Stone in Washington Friday Nov. 8 2019

New York radio host Randy Credico departs federal court following his appearance at the federal trial of Roger Stone in Washington Friday Nov. 8 2019

Donald Trump's campaign viewed Roger Stone as an "access point" to WikiLeaks and tried to use him to get advanced word about hacked emails damaging to Hillary Clinton, a former top presidential adviser testified Friday.

Bannon appeared as reluctant witness in Stone's criminal trial in federal court under subpoena and said he otherwise would not have taken the stand.

However, when Bannon was asked why he emailed Stone on Oct 4, 2016 - the date WikiLeaks announced the dump of Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta's emails - Bannon replied, "Because Roger was the guy who knew about WikiLeaks and knew Julian Assange".

Under cross examination by Stone's attorney, Robert Buschel, Bannon stated that the Trump campaign had no official "access point", per se.

Stone, a colorful political operative and Trump ally, is charged with witness tampering and lying to Congress about his attempts to contacts WikiLeaks about damaging material during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Credico is a key witness in the government's case against Stone, a long-time Republican operative who is charged with obstructing justice, witness tampering and lying to the House of Representatives intelligence committee in its investigation into Russian Federation interference in the 2016 election.

The White House had no immediate comment.

The government accuses Stone of pressuring Credico to cover up Stone's lies and seeking to prevent him from cooperating with the government.

Marando read the transcript of Bannon's grand jury testimony, noting that Bannon had said, "I think it was generally believed that the [Trump campaign's] access point [to Assange] would be Roger Stone".

The indictment claims that Stone spoke to senior Trump campaign officials about information that could damage Clinton's campaign.

USA intelligence agencies and former Special Counsel Robert Mueller determined that the emails were stolen by Russian state-backed hackers as part of Moscow's efforts to meddle in the election and boost Trump's candidacy. "I was forced to go to the grand jury and I'm forced to come here today". Credico said Stone pressed him to "go along" with a false account of the operative's contacts with WikiLeaks during the 2016 USA presidential campaign.

Credico, who finished his testimony earlier in the day, denied that he was an intermediary with WikiLeaks.

Stone called a Credico a "rat" and a "stoolie" in a threatening April 2018 email.

However, prosecutor Aaron Zelinsky did try to beat back a claim that Stone's defense attorney, Bruce Rogow, made on Wednesday, when he passed off Stone's reference to Pentangeli as a joke about Credico's impressions of the character.

"My lawyers are dying to rip you to shreds. I am going to take that dog away from you". Credico testified that he did not believe that Stone's threats to kidnap his dog were honest, saying under cross-examination by Stone's defence attorney, Buschel, that "it was hyperbole by him".

The radio host told the court he's had his dog Bianca, a small breed known as a coton de tulear, since 2006.

"Then I won't do it then", he said, imitating the politician's accent and shrug to laughter.

When the prosecution started to ask Credico to tell the jury about movie characters and public figures he imitates, Judge Amy Berman Jackson said she had been expecting him to "treat us" to an example.

Thursday's testimony detailed the acrimonious collapse of the relationship between the liberal Credico and Stone, a longtime conservative operative who revered Richard Nixon so much that he has the disgraced former president's face tattooed on his back.

The trial has been colourful at times, with Credico's courtroom impersonation of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and testimony and evidence presented about threats by Stone to Credico's dog.

Credico testified he promised to help get Assange to appear on Stone's radio show and pass along messages, but he never followed through.

Bannon also said he has been in touch with Stone since leaving his White House role in August 2017, but said he has never discussed Russian interference in the 2016 election with Stone. "He's a good guest to have on". But Credico said he and Stone never discussed WikiLeaks before late August 2016, making it impossible that he was the "trusted intermediary" that Stone had been referring to for months.