Two associates of Trump adviser Stone questioned in Russia probe

(Reuters) – Two associates of Roger Stone, a longtime political adviser of U.S. President Donald Trump, were questioned in the past two days in the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election campaign, a lawyer and one of the men said on Friday.

Jerome Corsi, a right-wing commentator who contributes to conspiracy theorist websites, was questioned by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s prosecutors on Thursday but had a planned grand jury appearance for Friday put on hold, Corsi’s lawyer said. Reuters reported on Wednesday that Corsi had been subpoenaed.

The lawyer, David Gray, declined comment on the content of Thursday’s questioning, although he said earlier this week that he and Corsi believed it would be about his communications with Stone, who in recent months has been the subject of scrutiny by Mueller’s office. Gray has said Corsi and Stone communicated by phone and email between 2016 and 2018.

Investigators appear focused on Stone’s contacts with Wikileaks and its founder Julian Assange, according to sources familiar with the interviews of a series of Stone’s associates who have been contacted by Mueller’s team. Before the election, Wikileaks published emails hacked from the Democratic Party and the personal email account of John Podesta, candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman.

Another Stone associate, comedian and talk show host Randy Credico, appeared as scheduled for his grand jury appearance at a federal courthouse in Washington on Friday. He brought his therapy dog with him, an accommodation approved by Mueller’s team.

Like Corsi, Credico was subpoenaed by the special counsel’s office. Credico told Reuters before Friday’s appearance that he met with representatives of Mueller’s team in New York. He said he was questioned extensively but declined to elaborate.

Stone, for decades a Republican political operative, was at one point in contact with Credico as a possible intermediary to Assange. Credico interviewed Assange for a radio program and visited him in 2017 in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London where he took refuge six years ago to avoid extradition to Sweden in a sexual molestation investigation.

Mueller’s office is looking into whether Stone had advance knowledge of material detrimental to Clinton that U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded was obtained by Russia through hacking, the sources said.

Russia denies U.S. allegations of meddling in the election. Stone has denied having any advance knowledge. He has said he has neither been interviewed by Mueller’s team nor summoned before a grand jury.

Reporting by Chris Wattie in Washington, Mark Hosenball in London and Nathan Layne in New York; Editing by Grant McCool