From Nixon to Trump: Roger Stone’s long journey as a dirty trickster
After Richard Nixon resigned as president of the United States in August 1974 because of the Watergate scandal, many Republicans distanced themselves from him—but not Roger Stone, who was arrested by FBI agents on Friday, January 25 in connection with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. At 66, the veteran GOP operative and self-described “dirty trickster” is as proud of his relationship with Nixon as he of his relationship with President Donald Trump. And John A. Farrell describes Stone’s journey from Nixonite to Trumpista in a new in-depth article for Politico.
Farrell (who has written biographies on Nixon as well as the late Democratic House Speaker Tip O’Neill) is careful to point out that Stone was not a member of the Nixon Administration. Rather, Stone (who was born in 1952) became a scheduler for Nixon’s 1972 presidential campaign when he was a college student.
“There’s a reason Nixon burns so bright in Stone’s mind,” Farrell writes. “Watergate ushered Stone into politics. He cut his teeth on Nixon’s 1972 reelection campaign as a college student, pulling the sort of penny-ante tricks—ratfucking, they called it—that Democrats and the media found witty and endearing when sprung upon Nixon.”
Farrell goes on to describe some of the sleazy and unethical—although not necessarily illegal—tricks that Stone and others who worked on Nixon’s 1972 campaign used against Democratic presidential nominee George McGovern, who Nixon defeated by a landslide. And after Nixon left the White House in disgrace in 1974, Farrell notes, Stone went on to develop a close relationship with the former president.
According to Farrell, one of the things that Stone and a young Donald Trump had in common when they first met in 1979 was a mutual admiration for Nixon—who, Stone has said, saw Trump as presidential material. Farrell quotes Stone as saying, “It was Nixon who first saw the potential for a Trump presidency.”
Farrell explains, “As Stone tells it, Nixon met Trump in the owner’s box at Yankee Stadium in the late 1980s and called Stone the next day.” And Nixon told Stone, “Well, I met your man. I gotta tell you, he’s got it.”
When Trump ran for president as a Republican in 2016, Farrell writes, Stone saw the similarities between Nixon and Trump. Farrell also describes the similarities between Watergate and Russiagate.
“And now,” Farrell writes, “here we are: Stone, who emerged from Watergate unscathed, has been implicated in another massive political scandal…. The actual charges were classically Nixonian: witness tampering, obstruction of justice and making false statements to Congress to cover-up details of the Trump campaign’s association with the Russians.”
Farrell concludes his Politico piece by explaining why Stone has a tattoo of Nixon on his back. To Stone, Farrell explains, Nixon symbolizes toughness and resilience—and he quotes Stone as saying, “I wear (the tattoo) as a reminder: one must always get up from the mat and fight again.”