A longtime ally to President Donald Trump testified in a closed-door session before the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday and spoke to the press after, taking questions about his testimony in an unusual move for a witness in the committee's often intentionally secret Russia investigation.
Roger Stone arrived on the Hill Tuesday morning and met with the committee, which is investigating whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 election, for several hours.
"I expressed my view that I'm aware of no evidence whatsoever of collusion by the Russian state or anyone who was on the campaign or anyone associated with Donald Trump," Stone told reporters immediately after his interview.
While other witnesses in the House and Senate Russia hearings have often avoided the press, opting for brief, written statements or none at all, Stone is known for being vocal and not shy of the spotlight. He had requested a public hearing.
Stone also said after Tuesday's interview that attorneys for Paul Manafort, Trump's former campaign manager, "informed" Stone's attorneys that Manafort expects to be indicted, but Stone was not clear on the charge.
In Stone's opening statement to the committee, which was published by several news outlets on Monday night, he called the investigation a "political proceeding" and accused "a number" of its members of making "irresponsible, indisputably, and provably false statements in order to create the impression of collusion with the Russian state without any evidence that would hold up in a US court of law or the court of public opinion."
Stone also attacked several of the Democrats on the committee by name in the statement, something he has also been known to do on Twitter. After the Tuesday meeting, he told reporters his opinion of the Democrats was largely unchanged.
"There were certainly some partisan clashes," Stone said, of the meeting. "But nothing that made me uncomfortable." He also described the exchanges in the meeting as "frank."
A Republican on the committee, New York Rep. Pete King, walked out of the meeting and also described it as "businesslike."
Texas Rep. Mike Conaway, the Republican leading the committee's Russia investigation, did not take questions afterward but told reporters Stone's comments were "accurate."
"I recognize that those who believe that there was collusion between the Trump camp and the Russian state, now say Stone, 'MUST HAVE' been involved, but that is not based on one shred of evidence. ... I have no involvement in the alleged activities that are within the publicly stated scope of this Committee’s investigation," Stone told the committee, according to his prepared remarks.
California Rep. Adam Schiff, the committee's top Democrat, spoke to reporters after Stone had left, saying there was "one area" where Stone would not answer members' questions. Schiff did not elaborate beyond saying if Stone did not cooperate in the future, it would be "necessary" to subpoena him.
Lissandra Villa is a politics reporter with BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC.
Contact Lissandra Villa at email@example.com.
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