Chuck Ross, DCNF
CNN host Anderson Cooper poured cold water on a conspiracy theory floated Friday night by California Rep. Eric Swalwell.
Swalwell, a Democratic member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, discussed Twitter messages exchanged during the 2016 presidential campaign between President Donald Trump’s longtime friend Roger Stone and WikiLeaks.
Swalwell hyped the messages, first reported by The Atlantic in February, suggesting a scheme between Stone and WikiLeaks, the group that published emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta.
Cooper clearly didn’t buying that theory, and he let Swalwell know it.
“Just for the record, the text exchanges over Twitter and direct message between Stone and WikiLeaks, the ones that have at least been released, and I assume those are the only ones, they don’t really show anything,” said Cooper, who interviewed Swalwell and Stone on Friday.
Cooper summarized the messages, which he said showed that WikiLeaks asked Stone to cease claiming to have connections to the group.
Stone first contacted WikiLeaks on Oct. 13, 2016, to complain that the group was publicly “attacking” him even though he was a vocal supporter of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
“We appreciate that. However, the false claims of association are being used by the democrats to undermine the impact of our publications. Don’t go there if you don’t want us to correct you,” the WikiLeaks account responded.
“It doesn’t seem like there’s any smoking gun there,” Cooper told Swalwell.
Swalwell and other Democrats have questioned whether Stone had advanced knowledge of the hacked emails that WikiLeaks released. They point to Stone’s comments during the campaign that he was in communication with Assange.
Stone has denied knowing about the hacks and now says that he was in contact with Assange through an intermediary. Stone, who was interviewed by House Intel in September, has also asserted that his Twitter exchanges with WikiLeaks prove that he did not coordinate with the group.
“The content of the exchange with WikiLeaks shows neither any claim by me to have any information beyond what Assange himself had said publicly and reiterates the statement by WikiLeaks that I had not communicated with them prior to the release of the DNC emails that were both accurate and so damaging to Hillary,” Stone told The Daily Caller in February.
Swalwell also made what appears to be a false claim about whether the House Intelligence Committee was provided with Stone’s messages.
“Another issue, though, Anderson, that is that in our investigation, we should have been able to subpoena all of the records rather than having to wait and see what reporters were able to dig up and find about Roger Stone’s communications,” Swalwell told Cooper.
“We weren’t able to do that,” he continued, accusing House Intel Republicans of being “unwilling” to subpoena the records.
Swalwell’s claim is undermined by The Atlantic report that he initially cited in the interview.
The Stone-WikiLeaks messages were also provided to the House panel, according to that article.
“A screenshot of the exchange, which has not been previously reported, was provided to the House Intelligence Committee last year by a third-party source,” reads The Atlantic report.