Saved from the Swamp // A candid conversation with Roger Stone

Roger Jason Stone (born August 27, 1952) is a well-known American conservative political strategist and consultant. Since the 1970s, Stone has worked on the campaigns of numerous Republican politicians, including Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Jack Kemp, Bob Dole and Donald Trump. He was also a political lobbyist, and in 1980 he co-founded a Washington, DC-based lobbying firm together with Paul Manafort and Charles R. Black Jr.

A longtime supporter of Donald Trump, Stone first suggested that he run for president in 1998 when he was Trump’s casino business lobbyist in Washington. Stone officially left the Trump campaign on August 8, 2015. On January 25, 2019, in a predawn raid by 29 FBI agents acting on both an arrest warrant and a search warrant at his Fort Lauderdale, Florida, home, Stone was arrested in connection with Robert Mueller’s Special Counsel investigation and charged in an indictment with witness tampering, obstructing an official proceeding, and five counts of making false statements. In November of that year, a jury convicted him on all seven felony counts, and he was sentenced to 40 months in prison. On July 10, 2020, only days before Stone was scheduled to report to prison, Trump commuted his sentence. Then, on December 23, 2020, Trump granted him a full pardon.
I spoke to Roger Stone last week.

You were one of Donald Trump’s earliest supporters. What did you see in him back then that very few others did?
He has enormous courage. He will do whatever is necessary. He’s entertaining—which is nine-tenths of politics, because the only thing worse than being wrong in politics is being boring, and Donald Trump is never boring. He also has presence. Just like Ronald Reagan, when Donald Trump enters the room, he commands it. That’s a quality you can’t quite put your finger on. It’s more than charisma, but he has it. He was more than a television guy in the television age. He understood branding in a way that he was able to begin the 2016 race with virtually 100% name recognition. What other businessman or politician could say that? Almost none.

I’ve spoken to a number of people who were close to him in 2016, and they all said that at some point we would see him becoming presidential. Do you think he ever became presidential enough, or was that something he lacked? He never really became the president of all the people, choosing instead to remain the leader of a movement. Would you agree?
Those are two different questions. First of all, when those who have been legally defeated in an election start to use the machinery of government to remove you from the presidency, it’s tough to become the president of all the people. He was under attack from the moment he was elected, and his opponents never conceded that his presidency was legitimate. They broke the law and invented scandals in an attempt to remove him. Second, I believe that everything must be seen within the context of its time. They said that Theodore Roosevelt was an egomaniac, a narcissist, a publicity hound and a brawler, but he went down in history as one of our greatest presidents. Abraham Lincoln was thought to be quite strange in his time. He was quiet and had a tendency to keep to himself. He was an introvert doing an extrovert’s job. He drew a lot of criticism, but he also turned out to be one of our greatest presidents. So acting presidential isn’t defined by the ruling elite, it’s defined by the American people when they select a president. I would point out that even in defeat the president received seven million more votes than he previously got.

In giving you a pardon, he really came through for you in a very big way. It was the product of a great relationship that you enjoyed with him, and I assume still do.
Very much so. But it was also a matter of justice. The president looked at my case, and he could see that not only was there a political motive behind my indictment but the charges themselves were extraordinarily contrived. The judge displayed her bias in all of her pretrial rulings, essentially leaving me no cogent defense at all. Then there was substantial misconduct by the prosecutors, which will be the subject of a formal complaint, and then we learned about the epic misconduct of the jury forewoman, who hid her bias during the jury selection and trial, and deleted her social media postings after I was wrongfully convicted. I give Donald Trump enormous credit for recognizing the totally corrupt nature of the effort to essentially make certain that I die in a COVID-19 prison cell. I also thank G-d, to Whom I pray fervently, for saving me.

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