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Roger Stone Denies Russian Collusion in Combative Statement

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Roger Stone Denies Russian Collusion in Combative Statement

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WASHINGTON — Longtime Trump ally Roger Stone on Tuesday denied any involvement with Russia during the 2016 presidential election and accused a House panel investigating the interference of making "irresponsible" and "provably false statements."

"I am aware of no evidence whatsoever of collusion by the Russian state or anyone in the Trump campaign, or anyone associated with Donald Trump," Stone told reporters after a nearly four-hour interview with members of the House intelligence committee.

Stone is the latest Trump associate to appear before one of the congressional committees investigating Russia's role in last year's election. The president's oldest son, Donald Trump Jr., and son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner, have also visited Capitol Hill in recent months to meet with lawmakers behind closed doors. Like Stone, they have denied coordinating with Moscow to influence the election.

"While some may label me a dirty trickster, the members of this committee could not point to any tactic that is outside the accepted norms of what political strategists and consultants do today," Stone said in the prepared text of his opening statement. "I do not engage in any illegal activities on behalf of my clients or the causes in which I support. There is one 'trick' that is not in my bag, and that is treason."

Stone specifically called out the committee's ranking member, Rep. Adam Schiff of California, and other Democrats who he said have made false statements about him and his role in the 2016 election.

"I view this as a political proceeding because a number of members of this committee have made 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 U.S. court of law or the court of public opinion," Stone said.

Stone told reporters afterward, however, that he felt he had been treated fairly and would be open to appearing again.

"There were certainly some partisan clashes and maybe some disagreements, I would say some differences of opinion, but nothing that made me uncomfortable," he said.

The outspoken and often bombastic Trump confidant is of interest to the committee for his communication with Guccifer 2.0, an online persona who took credit for hacking the Democratic National Committee. Stone called the exchanges, which he released with his opening statement, "innocuous at best."

He also said he has not been contacted by Robert Mueller, the special counsel who is leading the federal investigation into Russia. Stone said Trump should fire Mueller and predicted the former FBI head would manufacture a case against the president.

Stone also denied having any direct contact with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. Wikileaks released troves of emails hacked from the chairman of Hillary Clinton's campaign, John Podesta, the month before the election.

"I will not let myself be a punching bag for people with ill intentions or a political agenda," Stone said. "Understand that I will expose the truth in every forum and on every platform available to me."

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