Trump Dirty Trickster Roger Stone: How ‘Hero’ Assange Could Help Our Campaign
In an interview that aired Sunday on C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” program, Roger Stone, the off-the-books Trump adviser, reiterated his claim that he has been in touch with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
Assange posted the hacked emails of the Democratic National Committee to his site, as well as a database of emails from Hillary Clinton's private email server, which the former secretary of state used to communicate with State Department aides during her tenure in the Cabinet.
Stone, a longtime Republican political operative and dirty trickster, purportedly either resigned or was fired from the presidential campaign of Donald Trump last year but continues to be deeply involved with the campaign, especially the elements of its messaging that advance the conspiracy theories of the right. In the interview, he described his relationship to the Trump campaign this way: “I count myself as a Trump friend—kind of like Sidney Blumenthal [is to the Clintons]; I have no formal nor informal role, but I do have access to all the right people.”
On the C-SPAN show, Stone told Politico’s Alex Isenstadt of his communication to Assange “through an intermediary—somebody who is a mutual friend”—regarding the 30,000 emails the Clinton staff deleted before turning over the contents of the server to Justice Department investigators. (Clinton maintains that only emails of a personal nature were deleted.) Asked to corroborate Assange’s threat of “an October surprise” to stem from that trove, Stone offered a suggestion he clearly deemed to be more helpful to the Trump campaign.
“Well, first of all, I think Julian Assange is a hero; I think he’s taking on the deep state, both Republican and Democrat,” Stone began. He went on to say, “I believe that he is in possession of all of those emails that Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills, the Clinton aides, believe they deleted. That and a lot more. These are like the Watergate tapes…” (Video below: Go to timestamp 15:15.)
Stone knows a thing or two about the Watergate scandal, in which he played a minor role before moving on to bigger operations, such as the 2000 “Brooks Brothers riot” in Florida, when Stone organized dozens of Republican congressional staffers to storm the election board in Miami-Dade County, Florida, where a recount of presidential election ballots was taking place.
“I don't know that this is going to happen in October,” Stone said of a potential WikiLeaks dump of Clinton correspondence. “There is an enormous amount of material here. Mr. Assange could, theoretically, drop a tranche of documents before each one of [the presidential] debates.”
Although the interview took place shortly after Stephen K. Bannon and Kellyanne Conway were named as new top-tier leaders for the Trump campaign, it was recorded before campaign chairman Paul Manafort stepped down from that role on Friday. Stone also went to bat for Manafort, taking swipes at new campaign leaders Bannon and Conway, and raising, unprompted, the controversy that emerged with several exposÃ©s of Manafort’s political consulting and business dealings in Ukraine with allies of Vladimir Putin. The New York Times reported that Manafort’s name appeared in an accounts-payable ledger found in the Kiev former headquarters of the Regions Party, the political party of deposed Ukraine president Viktor Yanukovych, the favorite of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin who was driven from office by a popular uprising partly driven by his government’s corruption. The ledger listed payments of $12 million to Manafort, though Manafort’s lawyer insists his client never took receipt of the money.
Stephen K. Bannon, the newly named campaign CEO, is the chief executive of Breitbart News and the creator of a non-profit, the Government Accountability Institute, which produced a discredited book, Clinton Cash, that paints the former president and secretary of state as corrupt figures. Bannon then co-wrote a film based on the book. While Stone pointedly described Bannon as someone with no political [campaign] experience, he did demur that Bannon could be useful in tarring the Clintons. In doing so, though, he broke one of the first rules of communications: He raised the Manafort controversy in an attempt to defend the embattled then-campaign chairman, who was seen as having been demoted by Trump’s hire of Bannon.
“I think the good news here is that Bannon may succeed in sharpening the attack on Hillary,” Stone said. “Whether it is a corruption of the foundation, her tenure at the State Department, the email issues. It seems to me to have a scandal a day when it comes to Hillary Clinton. Sadly, the New York Times… likes to hoke up stories about Paul Manafort, putting them on page one, above the fold, when there is no there there—no evidence that he did anything illegal. An allegation. They put an allegation, probably from one of the parties he defeated in Ukraine, on page one. Disgraceful. Beneath the standards of the New York Times, in all honesty.”
Stone also made the apparently false claim that the Times is owned by “the largest single donor to the Clinton Foundation.” (The Times is owned by the New York Times company, which is not listed as a donor to the foundation.)
Later in the C-SPAN interview, Stone again brought up the Manafort Ukraine scandal when asked why he had taken to Twitter to attack Trump’s first campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, who without comment, had tweeted out the New York Times story about the ledger find in Ukraine.
“When you put out a tweet and connect the New York Times story—which is entirely bogus, but attacked Donald Trump's campaign chairman—I don't understand how you can think that’s helping the campaign or helping Donald Trump, particularly in this case where the story is a nothingburger. Manafort’s not the subject of an investigation, there are no bank records that claim that he received an illicit $12 million. All of his filings are proper because he never represented either the Russian government, or the Ukrainian government. The constant shooting at Manafort by Lewandowski is counterproductive. But what do you expect from an advance man? He can’t seem to get over the fact that he really hurt this campaign. They lost months. That’s why they are still building organizations in the states, things that you should have done months ago. If he’s going to continue to attack the campaign and attack the campaign chairman, I’m going to continue to attack him.”
After being forced out of the Trump campaign by Manafort, Lewandowski landed a paid commentator slot at CNN, where he continues to advance Trump’s case.
In perhaps a telling moment, Stone also stepped up to defend the minions of Vladimir Putin credited with hacking into the email system of the Democratic National Committee, and whose embarrassing contents—showing the disdain of then-DNC chair, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fl.), and staff for the presidential candidacy of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)—wound up posted to WikiLeaks, claiming that it wasn’t the Russians at all who did the hack, but rather someone named “Crucifer 2”—by which Stone surely meant the hacker(s) Guccifer 2.0, in what was a truly Freudian slip. What Stone doesn’t tell you is that number of hacking experts contend that Guccifer 2.0 is an operation of Russian intelligence agencies.
Of newly named Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, Stone had this to say: “Kellyanne’s [presidential campaign] experience dates to Ted Cruz. That didn’t work out too well.”