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U.S. political consultant Roger Stone, a longtime ally of President Donald Trump, speaks to reporters after appearing before a closed House Intelligence Committee hearing investigating Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., September 26, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque(reuters_tickers)
By Patricia Zengerle
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. political consultant Roger Stone, a longtime ally of President Donald Trump, flatly denied all allegations of collusion between the president's associates and Russia during the 2016 U.S. election in a meeting with lawmakers on Tuesday.
In a 47-page opening statement seen by Reuters before his appearance in a closed hearing of the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, Stone said he viewed his appearance "as a political proceeding" and criticized Democrats on the panel.
Stone accused committee members of making "provably false" statements to create the impression of collusion with Russia.
He also accused the committee of cowardice because he was not allowed to testify in an open forum. He said he wanted the transcript of his interview to be released on the conclusion of his meeting with the committee.
"I am most interested in correcting a number of falsehoods, misstatements, and misimpressions regarding allegations of collusion between Donald Trump, Trump associates, The Trump Campaign and the Russian state," Stone said in the statement.
Aides to the leaders of the committee's investigation, Republican Representative Mike Conaway and Democrat Adam Schiff, declined comment.
As he walked into the session on Tuesday morning, Stone did not stop to talk to reporters, saying only that he intended to tell "the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth."
He was expected to be in the room for as many as four hours.
The House panel is one of the main congressional committees investigating allegations that Russia sought to interfere in the 2016 U.S. election and probing whether any Trump associates colluded with Moscow.
U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia sought to influence the election to boost Trump's chances of defeating former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, his Democratic opponent.
Russia denies any such efforts, and Trump has dismissed any talk of collusion.
Stone acknowledged his reputation as a tough political strategist, but said he did not engage in any illegal activities.
"There is one 'trick' that is not in my bag and that is treason," he said.
(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Susan Thomas)