Roger Stone does not testify as closing arguments set in federal trial

Roger Stone's defense team rested its case Tuesday afternoon, with the usually outspoken Stone opting not to take the stand in his federal criminal trial.

Instead, Stone's team played a partial recording of his 2017 testimony before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, which prosecutors allege included false statements regarding Stone's knowledge of WikiLeaks and their publication of hacked Democratic National Committee emails. The defense’s argument is that Stone’s statements were true, even if he may have intended to lie.

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“In order for Roger Stone to be convicted of a false statement, the statement must be proven false. It does not matter if a defendant believes he is lying,” Stone’s legal team argued in a motion for acquittal filed Tuesday. “Right or wrong, he gets the benefit of the truthful answer or a poorly worded question.”

This argument relies on what Stone's defense claims is the government’s failure to prove that the 67-year-old lied about having just one intermediary between himself and WikiLeaks. The prosecution claimed during their opening statement that Stone used both radio host Randy Credico and author Jerome Corsi as intermediaries. The defense argued that “the government did not prove that either Jerome Corsi or Randy Credico were intermediaries between Julian Assange or WikiLeaks, and Roger Stone,” and that they did not sufficiently show that they were intermediaries “[r]egardless of Roger Stone’s belief about whether either were intermediaries[.]”

The motion claimed that while the prosecution may believe it is enough that Stone directed Credico to contact Assange, there is no proof that Credico actually made contact and was thus not truly an intermediary.

“There is no such crime as attempted false statement,” the motion argued, later adding, “Credico did not pass messages to Assange, even if Stone wished that Credico did, and even if Credico falsely reported to Stone that he had.”

The defense claimed that this undermines the charges against Stone, as the prosecutors did not adequately meet their burden of proof.

Stone’s decision not to take the stand, while common in criminal defense trials, goes against his prior approach of making public statements in his own defense.

After his indictment, Stone often spoke out about the case, making multiple media appearances and posting about the case on social media. This eventually prompted U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson to issue a gag order prohibiting Stone from talking about the case after an Instagram post that featured an image of Jackson with crosshairs.

The defense rested its case after playing the recording for the jury.

Earlier in the day, the prosecution rested their case after recalling a former FBI agent who had previously testified about a series of phone calls between Stone and then-candidate Trump -- including three calls on July 14, 2016 -- the day that a massive hack of the Democratic National Committee's servers was reported.

The prosecution's case did not provide any dramatic new evidence about whether Trump was aware of the impending WikiLeaks releases, but emphasized that senior campaign officials were deeply engaged in trying to figure out what was happening with WikiLeaks.

Trump's former deputy campaign manager Rick Gates also testified Tuesday and recalled a July 2016 car ride with Trump, during which the candidate was on the phone with Stone. Gates said that after the call Trump said that Stone told Trump that more information was coming from WikiLeaks.

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Gates also testified that it was his understanding that Stone had a source providing him information about WikiLeaks beyond what the general public was receiving.

On cross-examination, Stone's defense brought up the charges Gates once faced alongside his former boss and onetime Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Gates eventually reached a plea agreement that included cooperating with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

Closing arguments in Stone's trial are expected to take place Wednesday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.