Longtime Donald Trump associate Roger Stone is heading down a road oft traveled by other Trump associates. In a recently taped fundraising plea, Stone assured his viewers that even though Special Counsel Robert Mueller was probing “every aspect” of his life to get him to flip on Trump, he wouldn’t do it.
“This I will not do,” Stone pledged resolutely, and then went on to qualify that statement in his very next breath. “When I say I won’t roll on the president, what I mean is I will not be forced to make up lies to bring him down.”
Wow, how defiant. Sure, Trump’s fringe base thinks that’s what Mueller’s doing—trying to squeeze Trump associates until they lie. But in the real world, Mueller’s actually looking for facts, which means Stone could totally flip on Trump, give up truths about the campaign, and still not violate the pledge he just made not to “make up lies.”
In other words, a doublespeaking double-crosser just left the door open to cooperate with Mueller even as he begged his likely pro-Trump viewership for money to cover his legal fees.
Stone’s appeal comes at a time when a grand jury has been hearing “more than a dozen hours” of testimony about whether Stone or other Trump associates knew in advance of the WikiLeaks plan to release a trove of hacked Democratic emails. In all, Mueller’s team has interviewed at least seven associates of Stone, according to the Washington Post.
Stone, who presciently predicted in August 2016 that Clinton campaign chair John Podesta would soon have his “time in the barrel,” has denied having any prior knowledge. The Post writes:
As Election Day neared in 2016, Stone continued his predictions. On Sunday, Oct. 2, he tweeted, “Wednesday @HillaryClinton is done. #WikiLeaks.” When there was no release on Wednesday, Oct. 5, he tweeted, “Libs thinking Assange will stand down are wishful thinking. Payload coming #Lockthemup.”
Two days after Stone’s “payload” tweet, WikiLeaks published the first tranche of Podesta’s emails — and then dropped new batches nearly daily before the November vote.
In addition, Stone made repeated public comments in which he claimed to have contact with WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange.
The Post reports that someone familiar with the investigation said Stone contact Randy Credico told the grand jury that Stone also claimed privately during the election he had a back channel to WikiLeaks. Mueller’s team is also examining whether right-wing journalist Jerome Corsi helped connect Stone with Assange. Finally, Stone’s testimony to Congress and its veracity is being scrutinized by Mueller.
The baseline here is whether Stone not only knew about WikiLeaks’s possession of the hacked emails and its intention to publish, but also whether he provided any material support in terms of when and how to do it. In addition, the special counsel is looking into Stone’s ongoing communications with the Trump campaign.
But in declaring he wouldn’t turn on Trump, Stone follows in the footsteps of Michael Cohen famously pledging he would “take a bullet” for Trump and, later, Paul Manafort being praised by his former boss for “refusing to break,” like ya know, that traitor Cohen.