Roger Stone is a media personality extraordinaire best known as a "former" longtime political adviser to President Trump. He has been a Republican operative since the 1970s and is a veteran of eight presidential campaigns, starting in 1972 with Richard Nixon's re-election. Stone is a columnist, fashion expert and author of eight books, including his latest, The Making of the President 2016. His website Stone Cold Truth is always provocative.
Stone's colorful career is now the subject of a documentary, "Get Me Roger Stone," premiering Friday on Netflix. Over the past five years the filmmakers followed Stone, gathering insight into the man they call, "America's most powerful dirty trickster."
The following interview was conducted by phone Wednesday and edited for brevity.
Myra Adams: Shortly after President Trump fired FBI Director Comey, the New York Times quoted you saying, "Somewhere [President] Dick Nixon is smiling." Please explain what you mean by that statement.
Roger Stone: I understood that there would be immediate analogies to the so-called "Saturday Night Massacre," although the situations are really quite different. First, Nixon understood and now Trump understands the prerogatives of presidential power and when some government institutions have become politicized. The Watergate special prosecutor was politically motivated, just as I think Mr. Comey became politically motivated. Comey became a law unto himself — unaccountable to anyone — Republicans, Democrats, Congress, and the executive.
Adams: On Wednesday morning May 10, President Trump tweeted that you had nothing to do with his firing of Director Comey after CNN reported your involvement. Can you explain Trump's tweet and the genesis of this "fake news" story?
Stone: I am not the source of the CNN story nor the Politico story on which it was based, or the New York Times story that ran today. The New York Times and Politico both told me that they had multiple sources for their claim that I had argued in favor of firing Comey with the president. I have never been willing to discuss the content, scope, or the frequencies of my occasional conversations with the president, and I am not willing to start now. That said, I strongly support the president's decision, I think he did the right thing.
But anybody who knows Donald Trump knows that he is his own man, and at the end of the day, he makes his own decisions and is accountable for his administration. So the idea that I could talk him into anything is ridiculous.
Adams: Do you think that Trump fired Director Comey in a publicly humiliating manner?
Stone: I don't think that there will be any great public sympathy over the manner in which Comey was dismissed. Most Republicans want to know why he was not dismissed sooner and more abruptly, like within five minutes of Trump taking his hand off the Bible.
Adams: Has the FBI interviewed you regarding your alleged Russian/Wikileaks/Guccifer 2.0 connections that allegedly influenced the 2016 presidential election?
Stone: They have not. But if they did, here is what I would tell them:
Julian Assange and WikiLeaks are not Russian assets. That's your assessment. When the FBI or CIA use the word "assessment," they are signaling to you that they don't know anything or are telling you how they want it to be. If Mr. Pompeo, the CIA director, or Mr. Comey have evidence that would hold up in a U.S. court of law that Assange is a Russian asset, produce it! But they can't, because they don't have it. That's number one.
Number two, my exchange with Guccifer 2.0, who is also not a Russian asset, is benign based on the timing, the content and context. My exchange with him on Twitter, which is now entirely public, came six weeks after the publication of the DNC documents that Guccifer 2.0 takes public credit for hacking. Consequently, my collusion with him in that act would be impossible, unless I owned a time machine.
Adams: Since you have been asked to preserve records by the Senate Intelligence Committee, when are you scheduled to testify on Capitol Hill?
Stone: Both the House and the Senate Intelligence Committees have asked me to preserve and present documents within relatively specific areas. I will comply entirely with their request. But you asked the key question – when will I be asked to testify.
I know Sens. Warner, Feinstein and Franken have said things that are demonstrably, provably, false. Therefore, I should be able to testify in a public session that affords me the opportunity to take their words and demonstrate that they are liars. I do not want to testify behind closed doors where they can mischaracterize what I say.
Actually, the House Democrats have been worse!
On March 22, Congressman Schiff said that he had seen more than conclusive evidence of Russian collusion. Then on April 2, he said there was no evidence of Russian collusion. Which is it, Adam? I know you want to go to the U.S. Senate, but you are not getting there over my body.
In the same vein, Congressman Eric Swalwell, a nice-looking guy, a mannequin, is repeating that I bragged about John Podesta's email being hacked in advance. I never said any such thing! Either produce proof that I did, or shut the fuck up!
Adams: Regarding the WikiLeaks controversy, during our October 20, 2016 interview you mentioned a key source that could be construed as revealing and newsworthy when you said:
"I have heard about the information WikiLeaks has in regards to the current U.S. election, war, secret surveillance, arms sales, oil, internet manipulation and technology transfers. I am told the information is potentially politically devastating and 'indictable.' "
Then I asked you:
"Can you tell us a little something about who is telling you this information? If not a name, how about a nationality?"
"An American. That's all I wish to say. His actions and mine are completely legal. We seek information."
Roger, are you now ready to reveal the name of the "American" who was your primary WikiLeaks information source?
Stone: I am no more compelled to reveal my sources than say the New York Times. My source is a journalist. What he specifically told me in early August was that Wikileaks had a devastating portfolio of information about Hilary Clinton that would be released in October. That all turned out to be true. Then, some of the Wikileaks content I mentioned to you on October 20 has since been revealed in later disclosures.
When I have spoken about communications with Wikileaks and Assange, I have always qualified my source, describing him as either an "intermediary," a "go-between," or a "mutual friend." Now Wikileaks denies that he exists! But why did everything he tell me turn out to be true? That leaves me to conclude that Wikileaks, leaks!
Nonetheless, I think Julian Assange is a journalist and a hero. I think he publishes information from whistleblowers that the American people need to know.
Adams: Let's turn now to the "Get Me Roger Stone" movie premiering May 12 on Netflix. While you were watching the movie on April 24 at the Tribeca Film Festival were there any scenes that made you want to jump up and scream, "That's a lie"?
Stone: This is the greatest political documentary ever made! (laughs) The movie is neither a love letter nor is it a hit job. It is generally an accurate depiction of my life. Of course, there are things in there that I prefer the filmmakers did not focus on, and I can think of accomplishments that I wish were included.
Adams: Do you delight in the movie's characterization of you as "America's most powerful dirty trickster"?
Stone: Remember that one man's dirty trick is another man's civic participation. "Dirty trickster" is a moniker hung on me by the Democrats, usually ones I've beaten. But let's face it, I am a sharp-elbowed partisan. I have cultivated a bit of a reputation as a rogue, which is why the Democrats think I can be a patsy in their phony Russian collusion narrative, but they have another thing coming.
Adams: Given your continuous media exposure – much of it self-propelled – do you see yourself as playing a character on the media stage?
Stone: Don't confuse me with the Roger Stone character I sometimes play. What I mean by that is in our fast moving society saturated with media and internet outlets, you have to be over the top to get public attention. You have to be dramatic. You have to use sarcasm, humor and parody because you have break through. The only thing worse than being wrong is being boring, and I strive never to be boring.
Myra Adams is a media producer and political writer. She was on the 2004 Bush campaign's creative team and the 2008 McCain campaign's ad council.
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