But now Stone, a veteran adviser to President Donald Trump who has long cut a piratical figure on the political scene, appears to be engaged in his stiffest fight yet: the one for his own legal future.

On Friday, a stream of developments in the special counsel investigation underscored his peril. An old friend — a former procuress from New York whom Stone has employed as an administrative worker — testified about him to the federal grand jury hearing evidence in the inquiry. Another old friend, a New York City radio host, has been subpoenaed to appear before the same grand jury. And one of his close aides was held in contempt of court for ignoring his own subpoena, though the order was stayed.

For months now, Stone, 65, has been a key focus of the inquiry by the special counsel, Robert Mueller, into whether any Trump associates worked with Russian operatives who were secretly trying to tip the election in Trump’s favor. Stone is central to that question because he appeared to have advance knowledge of some of the moves that Russian hackers were making.

Stone dismissed the latest series of events on Friday afternoon, insisting that none of the three people knew anything about possible collusion with the Russians.

“None my associates have any such knowledge, and the ongoing attempt to interrogate them appears to be an effort to fabricate some other ‘crime’ to pressure me into testifying against the president,” he said. “It really has the smell of a witch hunt.”

Stone has acknowledged that before the 2016 election, he traded private messages with Guccifer 2.0, the mysterious online figure that was instrumental in helping WikiLeaks release a trove of information that eventually proved damaging to Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid. In an indictment unsealed last month, Mueller charged that Guccifer 2.0 was in fact a front for Russian intelligence officers.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

Alan Feuer © 2018 The New York Times