Donald Trump ally Roger Stone pleads not guilty to Russia investigation charges

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An adviser to Donald Trump has pleaded not guilty to seven charges over alleged Russian interference in the 2016 US election.

Roger Stone was arrested by FBI agents last week and charged by the office for Special Counsel Robert Mueller with allegations of making false statements, witness tampering, and obstructing an official proceeding.

He faced a federal judge in Washington after being granted a $250,000 (£190,000) bail in Florida on Friday, where he told reporters he was not guilty and “looked forward to being fully and completely vindicated”.

The 66-year-old political consultant entered his plea for the first time on Tuesday, having earlier accused authorities of trying to make him look guilty by bringing more agents to arrest him than took down Osama bin Laden.

He told Sky News the Mueller investigation into alleged Russian collusion was doing everything it can to “make me look like a criminal” and accused his office of treating him “like a drug kingpin”.

He also told reporters 29 FBI agents had “terrorised his wife and dogs” during the pre-dawn raid at his Florida home.

He said: “I feel kind of violated. I mean, I’m accused of a series of non-violent process crimes – not conspiracy, not the receipt of stolen material from WikiLeaks, not the co-ordination of its release.

“It is alleged that I was less than truthful with Congress – that’s false.”

Also among the charges against him are details of conversations he allegedly had about stolen Democrat emails posted by WikiLeaks in the weeks before the election.

The emails, belonging to Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, are said to have been hacked by Russian intelligence officers.

Stone – who was the focus of a Netflix documentary in 2017 about the unlikely rise of Mr Trump from a businessman to the presidency – has been under scrutiny for several months, but has always maintained his innocence.

Stone is the latest in an increasing line-up of Trump advisers who have been arrested and charged since the Republican took office in January 2017.

Among them is former election campaign chief Paul Manafort, who in September pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy against the US and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice.

Ten other counts were dropped as part of a plea deal to co-operate with the Russia investigation.

Former national security adviser Michael Flynn pleaded guilty in December 2017 to lying to the FBI about conversations with Sergei Kislyak, then Russian ambassador in Washington.

His sentencing was delayed in December so that he could also continue to help the investigation.

Michael Cohen, a former lawyer for Mr Trump, is another ex-ally who has agreed to work with Mr Mueller.

Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison and fined nearly $2m (£1.5m) after admitting lying about campaign finance – including paying hush-money to porn star Stormy Daniels – and committing tax and bank fraud.

Political consultant Rick Gates, 46, also admitted to lying to the FBI as part of the Russian investigation and filing false paperwork with the Justice Department related to Ukrainian lobbying in November 2016 and February 2017.

Gates, the father of four young children, faces up to six years in prison.

The first to plead guilty in the Mueller probe was George Papadopoulos, a former campaign aide who also admitted he had lied to the FBI over possible collusion with Moscow.

He was sentenced to 14 days behind bars and was also given a £7,300 ($9,500) fine and community service, and was told he would spend a year on parole.

(c) Sky News 2019: Donald Trump ally Roger Stone pleads not guilty to Russia investigation charges

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