This will come as a tremendous shock to anyone who reads the news, but a high-profile member of Donald Trump's presidential campaign has been lying. Take a breath, collect yourself, maybe switch to decaf to calm the nerves.
We already knew that Roger Stone, the long-time Trump confidant, had been in contact with a Russian hacker via Twitter DMs during the campaign, long before, in an unrelated matter, he got himself permanently banned from the site. But now Stone is facing allegations that he was much more active in trying to get damaging information on Hillary Clinton from foreign nationals. In a new report out Sunday, the Washington Post found that in May 2016, well into the presidential campaign, Stone met with a man who had a "viscous Russian accent." Per the Post:
The man, who called himself Henry Greenberg, offered damaging information about Hillary Clinton, Trump’s presumptive Democratic opponent in the upcoming presidential election, according to Stone who spoke about the previously unreported incident in interviews with The Washington Post. Greenberg, who did not reveal the information he claimed to possess, wanted Trump to pay $2 million for the political dirt, Stone said.
“You don’t understand Donald Trump,” Stone recalled saying before rejecting the offer at a restaurant in the Russian-expat magnet of Sunny Isles, Fla. “He doesn’t pay for anything.”
That might be the truest thing anyone has ever said about Trump, in any situation. But as the Post explains, the meeting was in fact set up through Trump campaign communications official Michael Caputo after Greenberg approached a business partner of his. Caputo texted Stone after to ask how the meeting went. Stone replied that Greenberg wanted "big &$" (presumably "money") in exchange for information, and Caputo asked if there was anything interesting; Stone tersely replied "no."
Now, both Stone and Caputo are claiming that they were set up by the FBI, accusing Greenberg of being an informant. The Post has found that Greenberg has in fact provided information to the FBI but there's no evidence yet that supports the claim that he was working for them when he set up a meeting with Stone. There is, however, lots of evidence—like everything above—that shows that Stone took a meeting with a foreign national to get dirt on a political opponent. It's one more sign of Trump affiliates revealing covered-up Russian connections and misleading Congress.
Meanwhile, Trump's best and brightest took to the airwaves on Sunday morning to defend Stone. Unfortunately for Stone, Rudy Giuliani is the best that's left.
Since joining Trump's legal team, Giuliani has been earning a reputation as an unhinged talking head who keeps painting his client into corners, but in this case he's essentially reheating the president's favorite half-formed defense: "If we tried to collude and failed then we didn't do anything wrong."