Dispatch June 19, 2018

Why Roger Stone’s New Russian Contact Is a Big Deal

The Moscow Project has been tracking the Trump-Russia coverup for months, maintaining a list of contacts and meetings between Trump-world and Russia that’s now reached over 80 entries, dozens of lies about those entries, and Congressional negligence around most of them.

The latest addition? As The Washington Post reported this weekend, in May 2016, a Russian national approached Roger Stone and offered dirt on Hillary Clinton in exchange for $2 million.

If this example is anything like the others on our list, we’re likely to see an attempt to distance the president from Stone by pointing out that Stone wasn’t officially on the campaign at the time. After all, Trump has claimed to barely even know Paul Manafort, his campaign manager.

But no distancing can hide the depth of Trump and Stone’s relationship, which predated the campaign by decades, and continued throughout the campaign and into his presidency. Stone’s been advising Trump for decades.

  • The pair first worked together in the 1980s, when the Trump Organization hired the firm Stone co-ran with Manafort to lobby the government on gambling and real estate.
  • According to Stone himself, the infamous “dirty trickster” has been trying to get Trump to run for office since at least 1988.
  • Stone was the director of Trump’s short-lived 2000 run at the Reform Party nomination, which Stone now claims was an attempt to sabotage the party and pave the way for the election of George W. Bush.

Stone’s official tenure on the Trump campaign ostensibly ended in August 2015, but the two stayed in touch for the duration of the election.

On March 30, 2016, Stone said the two spoke at least “monthly.” Six known calls between the two during the campaign:

  • November 10, 2015: Stone claims he “just got off the phone with Trump”.
  • February 28, 2016: Stone speaks with Trump “for 45 minutes,” according to Alex Jones.
  • February 29, 2016: Trump speaks with Stone, according to Stone.
  • March 25, 2016: Trump calls Stone for advice, according to Stone. Stone recommends that Trump reach out to Paul Manafort. On March 28, Trump hires Manafort as his campaign chair.
  • July 16, 2016: Trump speaks with Stone, according to Stone. This is the same day Trump announces Pence as VP.
  • August 17, 2016: With Stone’s “persuad[ing],” Trump hires Steve Bannon to replace Manafort.

There have been at least four known calls/meetings between the two since Election Day:

  • November 10, 2016: Stone says he “spoke to President-Elect Trump…on a broad variety of topics.”
  • December 6, 2016: Trump and Stone hold a private meeting in Trump Tower.
  • January 20, 2016: Stone attends Trump’s inauguration.
  • October 20, 2017: Roger Stone claims on InfoWars that he has spoken with Trump about the upcoming release of documents related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

The two constantly coordinated:

  • October 15, 2015: Trump tweets out an Amazon link to Roger Stone’s new book: “The latest book on Hillary — Wow, a really tough one! http://www.amazon.com/dp/151070678X @RogerJStoneJr
  • December 18, 2015: Stone launches a pro-Trump Super PAC.
  • January 5, 2016: Trump cites Roger Stone’s new book while on Sean Hannity.
  • February 27, 2016: Trump tweets: “.#RogerStone was just banned by@CNN — their loss! Tough, loyal guy.”
  • April 19, 2016: Two sources close to Stone and Trump tell CNN: “Roger is never too far away from Trump … He’s always talking to Donald” and “Roger and Trump always wind up finding their way back to each other.” Stone tells CNN, “I talk to Trump from time to time.”
  • July 18–21, 2016: Stone is front and center at the RNC. During an interview with Charlie Rose, Stone describes his role on the campaign as “FOT…Friend of Trump…I have no title, I have no line responsibilities, but I have access to all the right people.”
    • When asked if he has a “lot of access to the candidate,” Stone responds: “He returns my call if I call him” and says that the two share ideas “once and awhile.” Stone adds that he will regularly send “memos” to Trump.

Roger Stone’s close relationship with Trump and penchant for political “dirty tricks” made him an ideal conduit for collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. Already, we know that he’s lied to Congress to cover up his private conversations with WikiLeaks. This is a big development for the investigation and further proof that the Trump-Russia contacts were widespread, prolonged, and intentional.