Roger Stone, the longtime political operative and confidant of President Donald Trump, revealed that he attended a meeting with a Russian national during the 2016 presidential campaign – and claimed he was offered "political dirt" on Hillary Clinton in exchange for $2 million.
The meeting, which was not previously disclosed by Stone despite prior interviews with congressional investigators, occurred in late May 2016 and is now a subject in the ongoing investigation into Russia's alleged election interference efforts by special counsel Robert Mueller, according to the Washington Post.
The man who Stone met with went by the name of Henry Greenberg, but reportedly did not share the information he claimed to have had. Stone rejected the information in exchange for $2 million, and he allegedly scoffed at the idea that Trump would pay for such an offer.
"You don’t understand Donald Trump," Stone claimed he told Greenberg during their meeting in Sunny Isles, Florida, the Post reported. "He doesn’t pay for anything."
After the meeting ended, Stone received a text from Michael Caputo – then a Trump campaign communications official – who asked him, "How crazy is the Russian?" the Post reported.
Stone said Greenberg wanted "big" money, and that the meeting was a "waste of time." Caputo then asked if there was "anything at all interesting" about meeting with Greenberg, to which Stone replied, "No."
Caputo said he was probed by prosecutors about Stone's meeting during a questioning session last month, but did not disclose that it took place. But, now both Caputo and Stone have alleged that they were "the targets of a setup by U.S. law enforcement officials hostile to Trump."
"I was under the understanding that he was an American citizen of Russian descent," Caputo told CNN. "I had no reason to believe that, I just assumed it."
Despite repeated claims by the president, however, the Justice Department's inspector general report released last Thursday determined that political biases did not impact the FBI's investigation into Clinton.
Nonetheless, Stone and Caputo "cite records — independently examined by The Post — showing that the man who approached Stone is actually a Russian national who has claimed to work as an FBI informant," the Post reported. "There is no evidence that Greenberg was working with the FBI in his interactions with Stone, and in his court filing, Greenberg said that he had stopped his FBI cooperation sometime after 2013."
Greenberg has quite a murky past, and the Post reported that additional documents showed he has also gone by the name Henry Oknyansky. "Under that name, he claimed in a 2015 court filing related to his immigration status that he had provided information to the FBI for 17 years," the Post reported.
The Post further elaborated: "He attached records showing that the government had granted him special permission to enter the United States, because his presence represented a 'significant public benefit.'"
Despite several instances of Trump campaign officials having failed to disclose meetings, conversations or otherwise encounters with Russians, Caputo's lawyer defended his client for not disclosing the meeting to congressional investigators.
"Mr. Caputo had simply forgotten about this brief encounter in 2016," he told CNN.
On Sunday morning, Trump expressed frustration with the Post, though he never specifically mentioned the story about Stone.