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Washington – Jurors began deliberations Thursday in the trial of Roger Stone, a veteran Republican political operative charged with lying to Congress and other charges stemming from the special counsel’s Russia investigation.

Stone, a longtime confidant of President Donald Trump, was indicted in January as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election tampering.

He is accused of lying to Congress about his attempts to communicate with the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks, tampering with witnesses and obstructing a House Intelligence Committee investigation into whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia to tip the 2016 election.

Several witnesses have highlighted how Trump campaign associates were eager to gather information about emails the U.S. says were hacked by Russia and then provided to WikiLeaks. Stone was regarded as an “access point” to WikiLeaks due to his frequent boasts of having insider access to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

Defense attorneys have countered that Stone and the campaign’s curiosity about the WikiLeaks emails was natural and legal. They claim Stone never intentionally deceived Congress and that he was simply wrong in his testimony after committee members unexpectedly peppered him with WikiLeaks-related questions.

Stone faces seven separate counts and could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

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