In one of the major developments unfolding in the long-running investigation by the special counsel Robert S. Mueller, Roger J. Stone was indicted on Friday.
The evidence disclosed that a top campaign official in 2016 dispatched Stone, a longtime adviser to President Donald Trump, to get information from WikiLeaks about the thousands of hacked Democratic emails.
Stone appeared briefly in Federal District Court in Fort Lauderdale on Friday morning, his ankles and waist shackled in front of a packed courtroom.
Stone, known for his dapper wardrobe, was dressed simply in a navy blue cotton polo shirt, blue jeans and his trademark round, black-rimmed glasses. His demeanor was flat.
He posted a $250,000 bond, was ordered to surrender his passport and agreed to appear later, in federal court in Washington.
Afterward, outside the courthouse, Stone vowed to beat the investigation, which he called politically motivated.
“There is no circumstance whatsoever under which I will bear false witness against the president, nor will I make up lies to ease the pressure on myself,” he told reporters. “I look forward to being fully and completely vindicated.”
He then flashed twin V-formation hand signs reminiscent of his one-time boss, former President Richard M. Nixon.
The New York Times reported that Mueller revealed the most direct link yet between the Trump campaign’s and WikiLeaks’ parallel efforts to use the Democratic Party material stolen by Russians to damage the election campaign of Hillary Clinton.
One excerpt from the indictment said:
“After the July 22, 2016, release of stolen DNC emails by Organization 1, a senior Trump campaign official was directed to contact Stone about any additional releases and what other damaging information Organization 1 had regarding the Clinton Campaign. Stone thereafter told the Trump Campaign about potential future releases of damaging material by Organization 1.”
Stone was charged with seven counts, including obstruction of an official proceeding, making false statements and witness tampering.
Mueller did not say that Stone’s interactions with WikiLeaks were illegal, nor that the Trump campaign engaged in a criminal conspiracy with the organization.
The effort began well after it was widely reported that Russian intelligence operatives were behind the theft, which was part of Moscow’s broad campaign to sabotage the 2016 president election.
FBI agents arrested Stone before dawn Friday, appearing at his Fort Lauderdale, Fla., home with ballistic vests and guns drawn.
Agents typically use those tactics as a precaution to secure possible evidence and protect themselves in case a suspect fights arrest.
FBI agents were also seen carting hard drives and other evidence from Stone’s apartment in Harlem.
The indictment is the first in months by Mueller, who is investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and possible coordination with Trump campaign associates.
White House press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders sought to broadly distance Trump from the charges.
“The charges brought against Mr. Stone have nothing to do with the president,” she told CNN.
Asked whether he directed a campaign aide to contact Stone about the WikiLeaks emails, she repeated that the charges did not involve the president.
On Friday, Trump returned to an oft-repeated talking point, suggesting that the special counsel’s investigation — and news media coverage of it — was biased.
“Greatest Witch Hunt in the History of our Country! NO COLLUSION!” He wrote on Twitter. “Border Coyotes, Drug Dealers and Human Traffickers are treated better. Who alerted CNN to be there?”
The indictment does not mention whether Stone or any other Trump associate knew about the Russian operative’s plans before they hacked the Democrats.