Longtime Trump confidant Roger Stone and Trump campaign aide Michael Caputo claim to have been targeted in a setup by U.S. law enforcement during the 2016 campaign to pin then-candidate Donald Trump.
In a Washington Post report Sunday, Stone claims that he met with a man in May 2016 who offered dirt on Trump’s 2016 rival, Hillary Clinton. However, the man, who identified himself as Henry Greenberg, said he wanted Trump to pay $2 million for the damaging information and therefore was shut down, according to Stone.
Stone recalled telling the man that he didn’t understand Trump, a wealthy New York real estate businessman. “He doesn’t pay for anything,” Stone claims to have said to the man at a restaurant in Florida.
Afterwards, the report shows a screenshot of a text exchange between Stone and Caputo, who set up the meeting after Greenberg reached out to a Russian immigrant business partner of Caputo’s.
“How crazy is the Russian?” Caputo asked.
Stone replied the meeting was a “waste of time” because the man wanted “big” money for information.
The meeting is being scrutinized by special counsel Robert Mueller’s team, which is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Both Stone and Caputo have suggested that the man, who has periodically used the name Henry Oknyasnky, was used by U.S. officials who were hostile to Trump. Records reviewed by the Post show he is a Russian national who has claimed to work as an FBI informant.
In a 2015 court filing related to his immigration status, Greenberg said he had provided information to the FBI for 17 years. However, the report notes there is no evidence to suggest Greenberg was working for the FBI when he interacted with Stone. The FBI and Mueller’s team declined the Post’s requests for comment.
Caputo says he used his crowdfunding effort to do research on Greenberg, and in a statement claimed the man had a lifelong history of violent criminal activity in Russia and the United States.
“I want to know who at James Comey’s FBI thought it was a good idea to direct a violent international criminal in our country illegally to contact my family and Stone’s family,” Caputo said.
Trump and his allies have accused the Justice Department and FBI of targeting him for political purposes, most recently jumping on reports of there being an FBI informant who spoke with members of his campaign with suspicious ties to Russia. That informant has been identified by the media as Stefan Halper, a U.S. professor from Cambridge University.
Greenberg initially denied that a meeting took place in text messages with the Post, but he later did acknowledge one took place. He further said that the demand for money came not from himself but a Ukrainian friend he identified as Alexei, who claimed to have been fired from the Clinton Foundation.
Stone and Caputo say they did not disclose the meeting to the House Intelligence Committee, which also had conducted a Russia investigation, because they had forgotten about it. Both have sought to amend their testimony.
Stone, a well-known political trickster, previously claimed he had no contact with Russians during the 2016 campaign. He now says Mueller might charge him with a crime unrelated to the 2016 election in an effort to silence him and could try to use the Greenberg meeting as leverage to coax out testimony against Trump. Stone has repeatedly said Trump has no reason to be concerned about him.
“He has no reason to be afraid of me — I am his most loyal supporter,” Stone said in a brief exchange with the Washington Examiner in April.
Editor’s note: This story has been corrected to say the Post report notes that there is no evidence to suggest Greenberg was working for the FBI in his interactions with Stone. A previous edition stated incorrectly that there was no evidence to prove the man was an FBI informant.