Jury selection in the trial of Roger Stone, the longtime confidant and adviser to President Donald Trump, got off to a freakish start on Tuesday as Stone left the proceedings due to what he said was food poisoning shortly after an observer was taken out of the courtroom on a stretcher after appearing to have a seizure.
The high-profile trial could bring out new details about what former special counsel Robert Mueller found regarding the Trump campaign and Russian interference in the 2016 election. Mueller's investigation, which documented Russian efforts to boost Trump's candidacy through a campaign of hacking and propaganda, led to criminal charges against several Trump advisers and campaign aides.
Stone is just the second from this group not to plead guilty. Manafort was convicted by a Virginia jury a year ago.
Stone pleaded not guilty in January after a grand jury in Washington, D.C., returned an indictment with one count of obstructing a proceeding, five counts of making false statements to Congress and one count of witness tampering - because prosecutors allege that he tried to persuade another witness to lie to Congress too. That committee is now spearheading the impeachment inquiry.
Roger Stone, with his wife, Nydia Stone, right, arrive at the federal court in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019.More news: Target Releases Black Friday Deals
Right after WikiLeaks unveiled hacked emails from the Democratic Nationwide Committee on July 22, 2016, the indictment states, a senior Trump marketing campaign official "was directed" to make contact with Stone about extra releases and about "what other damaging information" WikiLeaks experienced "regarding the Clinton marketing campaign".
Stone, whose history in Republican political circles dates back to the Nixon administration, has consistently criticized the case against him as politically motivated.
By the end of the day on Tuesday, the pool of jurors had been narrowed down from 82 to 34 people.
Credico is due to testify later in the trial, which could run at least two weeks.
The juror acknowledged that she had unfavorable views of Trump.More news: O’Neill set for Stoke job as Bookmakers close the market
That warning did not stop Stone's lawyers from trying to strike the very first one, a woman who once served as a communications director for the White House Office of Management and Budget under Democratic President Barack Obama and whose husband is a Justice Department national security attorney. Jackson denied a request from Stone's lawyers to excuse her. He is accused of lying to lawmakers about WikiLeaks, tampering with witnesses and obstructing a Household Intelligence Committee probe into regardless of whether the Trump marketing campaign coordinated with Russian Federation to tip the 2016 election.
The indictment against Stone describes him as the conduit between the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks, which disseminated stolen Democratic National Committee emails in the summer of 2016. "Stone responded that 'Organization 1" would release 'a load every week going forward.' The election was in November 2016.
The high-ranking official is believed to be former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, who is listed among potential trial witnesses along with Mr Trump's former deputy campaign manager Rick Gates, radio host Randy Credico and conservative author Jerome Corsi. Assange is in London fighting extradition to United States on charges of conspiring to hack government computers and violating a federal espionage law.
Court proceedings were interrupted when a man sitting in the back of the courtroom appeared to experience a seizure, leading to everyone being order out of the courtroom.More news: Super Smash Bros Ultimate Terry Bogard DLC detailed and released