Roger Stone, an ally of and unofficial campaign adviser of President Trump, testified Tuesday in a closed hearing of the House Intelligence Committee.  Though Stone requested an open hearing, it was at the Committee’s insistence that the interview be closed.

This is the latest in the efforts of Congress to root out alleged collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign and/or Trump associates.

Stone was called to testify because he had a private Twitter conversation with infamous hacker Guccifer 2.0.

The Business Insider reports:

President Donald Trump’s former campaign adviser and longtime confidant Roger Stone testified before the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, six months after admitting that he exchanged private messages with a hacker implicated in a massive cyberattack that targeted the Democratic National Committee last year.

Stone told Business Insider in March that he had a private conversation on Twitter with the person, nicknamed “Guccifer 2.0,” and that the interaction was so “brief and banal, I had forgotten it.”

“Not exactly 007 stuff even if Gruccifer 2.0 [sic] was working for the Russkies,” Stone said. “Meaningless.”

In his opening statement to the committee, which was leaked Monday night, Stone cast doubt on the intelligence community’s assessment that Guccifer 2.0 was a front for Russian intelligence.

He pointed to a report written by Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), publicized by The Nation in August, claiming that the theft of DNC emails was not a hack, but a leak.

“Now that more information is in the public domain, the very question of whether Guccifer 2.0 hacked the DNC must be revisited in light of the VIPS report cited by The Nation,” he said.

After his testimony, Stone told reporters that he believed the DNC hack was an “inside job,” pointing again to the report in The Nation.

On Monday night, Stone released a statement in which he denies any collusion with Russians and notes that there is “not one shred of evidence” that he or anyone on the Trump campaign did so.

He also released the private Twitter messages between himself and Guccifer 2.0

Fox News reports:

[O]n Monday night, [Stone] defended himself in a lengthy statement.

“While some may label me a dirty trickster, the members of this committee could not point to any tactic that is outside the accepted norms of what political strategists and consultants do today,” he said in the statement. “I do not engage in any illegal activities on behalf of my clients or the causes in which I support. There is one `trick’ that is not in my bag and that is treason.”

Stone has also released a series of supporting documents, including direct messages he exchanged with Guccifer 2.0, the unnamed hacker who has taken credit for breaking into Democratic National Committee email servers.

In addition, he has denied advance knowledge of the leak of former Clinton Campaign chairman John Podesta’s emails and says he never colluded with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. He has long denied that he worked with Russian officials to influence the presidential election.

“I recognize that those who believe that there was collusion between the Trump camp and the Russian state, now say Stone, `MUST HAVE’ been involved, but that is not based on one shred of evidence,” Stone wrote. This is nothing more than conjecture, supposition, projection, allegation, and coincidence, none of it proven by evidence or fact,” Stone also says in the statement.

The contents of these private messages between Stone and Guccifer 2.0 were also released, and Fox News also reported these contents.

The direct messages on Twitter, exchanged over a month-long period, show Stone first congratulating Guccifer for being reinstated on Twitter after he was kicked off. They also show him asking that the account retweet a tweet about how the election could be rigged against Trump.

Guccifer writes: “I’m pleased to say that u r great man …. please tell me if I can help u anyhow.”

Stone doesn’t respond again until several weeks later, when Guccifer asks him about an article on a Democratic turnout model. Stone replies “pretty standard.”

Stone’s opening statement released Monday night includes his statement that as a political strategist, treason is not in his “bag of tricks.”

He further shares his family’s experience in 1956 Budapest and asserts that he “deeply resent[s] any allegation that I would collude with the oppressive Russian state.”

The New York Post reports:

“While some may label me a dirty trickster, the members of this committee could not point to any tactic that is outside the norms of what political strategists and consultants do today,” he said in the statement.

“I do not engage in any illegal activities on behalf of my clients and the causes in which I support. There is one ‘trick’ that is not in my bag and that is treason,” he said.

He said as a lifelong Republican and opponent of communism, he “deeply” resents claims that he helped the Russians influence the election.

“As someone whose political activism was born from the anti-communism of Sen . Barry Goldwater and President Ronald Reagan; and whose freedom seeking family members were mowed-down by Russian tanks on the streets of Budapest in 1956, I deeply resent any allegation that I would collude with the oppressive Russian state to affect the outcome of the 2016 presidential election ,” Stone said.

Following his three hours of testimony, Stone spoke with reporters.  He stated that he thought the DNC hack was an “inside job” and suggested that Paul Manafort is anticipating his own indictment.

The Hill reports:

He answered questions for over three hours behind closed doors, refusing to provide only one piece of information: the name of an intermediary through whom he says he communicated with Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks.

. . . .  When he emerged from behind closed doors on Tuesday afternoon, Stone said that he had “correct[ed] a number of the things that members of the committee had said about me” — but allowed that he believed some members of the panel didn’t “buy my claims.”

“A fair amount” of the questions were related to his communications with Assange, mostly from committee Democrats, Stone said.

The Republican leading the investigation, Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas), said only that Stone’s description of the meeting was “very accurate.” Committee member Peter King (R-N.Y.) described the interview as “businesslike” and “cordial.”

Stone provided a few other details about the byzantine investigations engulfing Trump allies. He said that he has not been contacted by special counsel Robert Mueller, who is heading the federal investigation into Russian election meddling.

He also said that counsel for former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort had contacted his own lawyers to tell them that he expected to be indicted in the federal probe.

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