Roger Stone’s January 6th
Speaker 1: Later this week, The House January 6th Committee is going to be back at it again. Congresspeople and reporters will file into the Cannon Caucus Room for what could be the final public hearing about the Capitol riots. And Josh Meyer from USA Today. He will be watching.
Speaker 2: I think there’s a lot of buildup for this, partially because the hearing was canceled due to Hurricane Ian, but also because this is kind of the culmination of a lot of the earlier hearings. And so Stone.
Speaker 1: Perhaps he thought the January six committee took a summer vacation. Josh says never.
Speaker 2: And one of the things that they’ve hinted at and basically come right out and talked about in earlier hearings is the role that Roger Stone might have played in all of this. I know that they flew to Copenhagen to get some footage from documentary filmmakers.
Speaker 1: Why did they want to go to Copenhagen?
Speaker 2: Well, because there were these Danish filmmakers that followed Roger Stone around on and off for the past three years. And it’s one of those things where, you know, if you’ve been with somebody for so long, they kind of forget about you. And so once the run up to the election happened and after Trump lost the election, they were still there.
Speaker 1: This documentary crew was there as Roger Stone detailed his plan to ignore election results and simply have Trump stay in office because possession is 9/10 of the law and they were there on January six itself as Roger Stone watched the riot unfold on TV from his perch at DC’s Willard Hotel. When things got violent, he packed his bags and got out of there.
Speaker 3: All right. We’re going to start pulling our stuff together. Let’s back out of here. All that much to take me over as soon as possible. Then we got out of town. How are we going to get those? You come to yourself.
Speaker 1: For the Congressional committee investigating January 6th. This kind of footage, it seems to show the way Trump allies fomented public anger and then deflected responsibility when members of the public embraced the chaos.
Speaker 2: It doesn’t look good for Roger Stone. I mean, he has made a lot of provocative and inflammatory comments, and I think that they’re hoping that the snippets of footage that they were able to get, which I believe is just maybe half an hour out of hundreds of hours of footage, is going to help them make their case that stone was an instrumental part of whatever it is that the Trump administration and campaign officials were doing to help overturn the election.
Speaker 1: Now, you’ve called him the Rosetta Stone, no pun intended, of January 6th.
Speaker 2: Well, I mean, you know, when I talked to Roger yesterday, he basically lamented how he feels misunderstood and all that. You know, people say that I knew everything and I’m I am the Zelig of this whole effort. And he said, you know, that’s not the case. But he he is very good at selectively omitting the things that he does has done and has said and the people that he does know.
Speaker 1: Today on the show, why the January 6th committee is aiming its spotlight on Roger Stone Mary Harris. You’re listening to what next? Stick around.
Speaker 1: So before we get into the way, Roger Stone has become a focal point for the January six investigators, I want to go back in time a little bit and just explain who Roger Stone is. He’s a political operative who’s been around for a very long time. Like how how long? Where would you clock this?
Speaker 2: Really, really long time. So Roger is now 70. And, you know, he started very young and he was kind of a political wunderkind. He was a bodybuilder. He was a good looking guy, well-dressed. He’s always been like very sartorially splendid, I think is the way he would like to describe it.
Speaker 1: I like the way you put that sartorially splendid.
Speaker 2: Very, very well-dressed, but also with a little bit of flair. But I know that since the seventies, he’s worked on the campaigns of Republican politicians, including Richard Nixon, of course, but also Ronald Reagan, Jack Kemp, Bob Dole, George W Bush, etc.. And in addition to serving as a campaign adviser, he was also a political lobbyist. And so he started to cultivate this political, dirty trickster image. And, you know, he has described his political modus operandi as, quote, attack, attack, attack, never defend. And I believe this is from his book. He said, admit nothing, deny everything and launch counter attacks.
Speaker 1: Here’s what this approach looked like in practice during the 2000 presidential election, when George W Bush and Al Gore were battling it out. Vote for vote in Florida. Roger Stone says he was part of a team that arranged for protesters to swarm the Miami-Dade election office the day before Thanksgiving. Live in downtown Miami with more on this story. What a scene there, Christine. Certainly.
Speaker 4: And this is a case of simmering tensions boiling over. The Republican observers were angry because the recount had been moved to a smaller room, a room which could only hold two observers from each party.
Speaker 1: This event came to be known as the Brooks Brothers riot because many so-called protesters were paid Republican staffers in collared shirts and suit jackets. But it didn’t matter. They were effective. They stopped the recount, along with Al Gore’s chance to become president.
Speaker 1: You guys got to go again? Josh says, looking back. Part of what’s funny about Stone’s role in the Bush-Gore election is that even back then, he was thinking ahead. He was already trying to convince Donald Trump to run.
Speaker 2: You know, Stone was very close to Donald Trump all along, and I think that he might have even seen the political potential in Donald Trump before Trump did or at least help him with that. So I think that, you know, when Trump was considering a run for the presidency, you know, even back in 2000. Stone was was part of that. The thing is that Stone and Trump have not always been very close. I mean, there’s been points where Trump has said Roger is a stone cold loser. He always tries to take credit for things that he never did. But, you know, he was also very good. STONE That is in helping channel the hate, I think and and the negative energy of candidates into into votes into political support.
Speaker 1: Yeah. I mean, it’s interesting you’re describing this kind of tempestuous relationship between Donald Trump and Roger Stone, but also a relationship where each of them may recognize that they need each other. Do you think that’s fair?
Speaker 2: Oh, yeah, sure. Yeah. And I think that one of the things that people who were following the current controversy don’t really understand a lot of them is that this is the very long history that Stone has with Trump. I mean, it goes back decades. Yeah. I mean, I think that Trump has benefited and perhaps wouldn’t have ever won the election without people like Roger Stone. You know, in some ways, you might think that Trump was basically just the figurehead and that these forces that were working for him were the ones that actually got him elected.
Speaker 1: Back in 2016. Donald Trump was certainly working from the Roger Stone playbook. He was echoing the same voter fraud complaint Stone perfected back in 2000. This time around, Roger Stone branded the effort, telling voters they needed to stop the steal on behalf of Donald Trump.
Speaker 2: And if you recall, you know, Trump was basically claiming that the election was rigged and that it was stolen from him months before the election ever occurred. So he was setting the sort of laying the groundwork for contesting the election long before he ever won the election. I think he was actually planning that he would lose the election and then, you know, claim that he’d won it and try to parlay that into something. I think he was as surprised as anybody that he actually did win the election.
Speaker 1: After Donald Trump was elected. Roger Stone kept working with the president as a kind of consiglieri, right?
Speaker 2: Yeah. I mean, I think that there has been certainly there has been times, if not most of the time, where Stone’s role as an advisor and confidante to Trump has been behind the scenes at various points. They’ve talked frequently. Stone says that he’s given Trump advice. Trump has has confirmed that.
Speaker 1: For me, I feel like what really showed the closeness of Donald Trump and Roger Stone was the fact that when Roger Stone was prosecuted for witness tampering and obstructing an official proceeding, multiple counts of making false statements because of the Mueller investigation. His sentence was first commuted and then he was pardoned. And to me, that’s just it’s just a big seal of approval from Trump like you are my ride or die.
Speaker 2: Right. Right. Well, I mean, and I think that that’s the same with Paul Manafort. And I think that these guys were told, however explicitly or specifically or not, you know, that if you cover for me, I will cover. You know, I’ll I’ll I’ll pardon you. I think Trump was pretty open about that. You know, it’s kind of almost like a mafia boss saying, you know, if you go to prison for me, I’ll take care of you and your family and all that stuff. So I do think that’s the case. I mean, I think Roger would take a bullet for Trump, whether he admits it or not.
Speaker 1: The footage the January six Select Committee obtained shows how after getting that pardon, Roger Stone got to work. Floating ideas for how Trump could remain in office even if the votes didn’t go his way.
Speaker 2: In one comment filmed in July 2020, you know Stone all but lays out Trump’s Stop the Steal blueprint for trying to overturn the election months before voters went to the polls. I mean, he said Trump and his supporters would insist they won the election, challenged election officials with force if needed, and then throw the issue into the courts so that Trump appointed judges could hand him a victory.
Speaker 3: What they’re assuming is that the election will be normal. The election will not be normal. Oh, these are the California results. Sorry, we’re not accepting that. We’re challenging them in court.
Speaker 2: It’s when I talked to Roger yesterday, he said that they’re selectively editing the documentary to get their political purposes. But, you know, he did say what he said.
Speaker 3: If you like to show up at the Electoral College, armed guards, we’ll throw them out. I’m the president. You you’re not stealing Florida. You’re not stealing of challenging all of it. And the judges were going to our judges. I appointed you. You’re not stealing the.
Speaker 2: You know, he In another segment film, just days before the election, which CNN obtained and aired, this is from the Danish filmmakers. Stone said, let’s get right to the violence. And again, he said that even if Trump was losing the election night vote count, that he should or would claim that he’d won and then adopt the position again, that possession is 9/10 of the law. Sorry, it’s over. We won. You’re wrong, F-you.
Speaker 1: And of course, who knows who he’s talking to in those clips. So it’s a little hard to know. Like, are you joking or like, who is this comment for and is that material? But because of his close relationship with Trump, it leads to all sorts of other questions.
Speaker 2: Stone has had an opportunity afterwards. I think the Post or somebody else specifically asked him, you know, were you joking? Or, you know, here’s your chance to deny you said that or to provide the context in which you said that. And he has not done so. So you know that that doesn’t mean that we know exactly what the context was or, like you said, who he was talking to. But it doesn’t look great for him. And I think the committee and the Justice Department are both trying to connect the dots.
Speaker 1: After the break, Pardons Proud Boys and a previously unreported January 6th offer from the Secret Service to Roger Stone.
Speaker 1: Roger Stone wasn’t actually at the Capitol charging in on January 6th. He was at the Willard Hotel. Does that make a difference here? Does that give some plausible deniability?
Speaker 2: I don’t think so. I mean, he was part of the rally the night before the January 6th. He was invited to an expected to attend the rally at the Ellipse where Trump spoke earlier on January six. Then he did not do so, and it’s not clear why he didn’t do so. I think that he has said that part of the reason is that he wasn’t officially welcomed.
Speaker 1: There’s one more thing that I think it’s important to point out about Roger Stone in January 6th, which is that after January 6th was over, ending Roger Stone seemed to know that he was in trouble. He seemed to know. He’s alluded to there being mass prosecutions. And he was behind this stone plan that was presented to the president that would essentially blanket pardon him and many others for whatever they did on January 6th. Donald Trump, of course, refused this plan, didn’t implement it, even though he just a couple of weeks prior, he had pardoned Roger Stone. How did Roger Stone react when he realized that Donald Trump was not going to implement his plan and he was sort of on his own when it came to January 6th?
Speaker 2: You know, I think he was very angry about that, obviously. But that’s one of the things about their relationship that’s hard to pierce that veil and understand what really happened. I mean, I don’t know what’s happened with their relationship there. He still speaks well of Trump. You know, as far as I can tell, I mean, we didn’t talk specifically about that yesterday. But yeah, I mean, in one text exchange reportedly obtained by the committee, Stone warned a lawyer representing Trump in his second impeachment trial, David Schoen, that there were going to be mass prosecutions. And this was at a time when the FBI was rounding people up around the country for their role in January 6th, you know, partially because they didn’t do it the day of January 6th, like they probably should have. But he allegedly asked the lawyer if he could, quote unquote, plug his pardon request when speaking next with the president.
Speaker 1: I love that plug. The pardon request, like it’s, I don’t know, like soap you’re selling or something.
Speaker 2: Right, right, right. And so, you know, his earlier request was for a blanket pardon for a lot of people, the stone plan that you mentioned. But I think that in this case, he was basically talking about himself and Bernie Bernard Kerik, who was the former New York City police commissioner, and Stone reportedly wrote at this point, I’d be happy if he pardon me. And Kerik again, if you believe The New York Times, you know, reporting on this, the committee has evidence that Stone said to the lawyer, you know, he’s already pardoned both of us, so he would take no heat for it whatsoever if he pardon us again.
Speaker 1: Yeah, no biggie.
Speaker 2: You’re right. No biggie yet.
Speaker 1: I want to turn back to the committee, the January six committee itself, because I have this question. When I think about how in this next hearing, they’re likely to focus on Roger Stone. The committee has really been focusing like a laser on Donald Trump. And there’s a reason for that. They’re they’re piling up evidence to potentially refer charges to the Justice Department for some kind of accountability. How does it serve them to focus the camera on stone?
Speaker 2: I think it’s only in furtherance of the broader plot. They’re trying to lay out a narrative or paint a picture here. And I think that they believe that Roger Stone had a key role in that. I don’t want to predict what the committee is going to say, what they found, what they’re going to show. But, you know, they clearly believe and they have for a long time that Roger Stone was somebody that was at the center of whatever was happening, whatever that is.
Speaker 1: In the end, I look at what Roger Stone did here. And I wonder a bit if he could end up taking the fall for Trump like he’s pretty proud of being something of a puppet master. I wonder if you think that’s possible too, that all this evidence gathering, it might not lead to Trump himself. It may just lead to these secondary characters. Mark Meadows. Roger Stone.
Speaker 2: Right. Rudy Giuliani People like that. Steve Bannon Yeah. You know, I think that that’s that’s a very good question. I think that it’s very possible that Roger Stone could do something like that. But again, that would only become an issue if they really have the goods to charge some broad conspiracy that connects the White House with the insurrection attempt on January six. And I don’t know if they have that, but one of the most devastating things about January six, if it’s true, is that the Trump administration and Trump himself sicked the mob on the Capitol, using them as a vehicle through which to stop the transfer of power.
Speaker 2: So, you know, it’s one thing for Trump to get up there and say you guys need to fight like hell or we’re not going to have a country anymore. But it’s another if somebody like Roger Stone and again, this is a hypothetical, if Roger Stone was working with people close to Trump or Trump himself and saying, look, we’re going to have the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys, you know, crack open the Capitol building, and then that way the mob can rush in behind them. And so if that’s true and if there was any connection between that effort and the White House that is bordering on treason, it’s it’s seditious conspiracy, which they’ve charged both groups with, but they haven’t linked any of them to the White House. But that’s a very serious charge. And so if Roger Stone played any role in that or even trying to do that or discussing it, I think that’s why they believe that they need to know more about Roger Stones role in it.
Speaker 2: Now, when I talked to him yesterday after my story ran, he said, well, you know, I kind of feel misunderstood. A lot of people don’t know the whole story. Like they don’t know the you know, does anybody know, for instance, that the Secret Service called me and offered to escort me to the Capitol on January 6th? And I said, wait, what? I’d never heard that before. Has that been reported? And he said, I don’t know, but I have no idea what that even means. What? Like why the Secret Service would do that? But I mention that because I think, you know, it’s pretty clear that his role in a lot of this is not well understood, at least publicly. And hopefully we’re going to hear more about it when the committee has their hearing.
Speaker 1: Josh Meyer, Thank you so much for coming on the show. I’m really grateful.
Speaker 2: My pleasure, Mary. Thanks.
Speaker 1: Josh Meyer is a domestic security correspondent over at USA Today. And that’s our show. If you’re a fan of what next, the best way to support us is to join Sleepless. So just going over to Slate.com slash what next? Plus. And do it right now. What next is produced by Elena Schwartz, Mary Wilson, Carmel Delshad, and Madeline Ducharme. We are getting a ton of support right now from Anna Phillips and Jared Downing. We are led by Alicia montgomery and Joanne Levine. And I’m Mary Harris. I will be back in this feed bright and early tomorrow. I’ll catch you then.