Who is Roger Stone, and Why Does Trump’s Justice Department Want to Go Easy on Him?

GOP operative Roger Stone speaks at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on April 10, 2018. (Photo by Jared Holt for Right Wing Watch)

This piece was originally published by Right Wing Watch on January 25, 2019, the day on which Roger Stone was arrested and taken into federal custody. He is due to be sentenced on February 20. Federal prosecutors recommended a sentence of seven to nine years. Today, President Donald J. Trump tweeted that the recommendation was “a horrible and very unfair situation,” pronouncing it “a miscarriage of justice.” The Department of Justice promptly signaled that it would seek a lighter sentence. Two prosecutors promptly withdrew from the case; one of them resigned from the Justice Department altogether. 

Roger Stone, who was arrested and charged on Friday morning, has a long career as a right-wing Republican self-described dirty trickster, whose “do-whatever-it-takes” ethos made him a perfect fit for the amoral, bullying campaign of Donald Trump, and a hero to the trolling, conspiracy-theory-promoting crowd he helped rally around Trump.

Stone has repeatedly denied wrongdoing and said he would never buckle to pressure from Mueller to turn on Trump. While the White House has tried to distance Trump from Stone, that won’t be so easy; for one, there’s a Netflix documentary entirely about how Stone helped Trump take the GOP nomination and White House. And since his arrest, Stone has been claiming that he is being persecuted for his 40-year friendship with Trump.

Stone’s partnership with Infowars and Alex Jones—who Stone called “the single most important voice in the alternative conservative media”—gave him a platform from which to promote conspiracy theories designed to inflame right-wing activists and boost Trump as candidate and later as president.

Here are some nuggets from Right Wing Watch coverage of Stone during the Trump era:

  • During the GOP primary, Stone told far-right radio host Jesse Lee Peterson that Trump “believes that his election is guided by God” and that “he’s been put here at this time and place to save this country.” Stone said he also believed that Trump “has divine guidance.”
  • Stone and Jones speculated that Justice Antonin Scalia might have been assassinated. Said Stone, “We’ve had coups d’état in this country. We had one on November 22nd, 1963, we had another one at the time of Watergate, this could very well be another coup d’état.” Stone later set the stage for Trump to declare, if he lost the election, that it was stolen, saying HillaryClinton could get help from the Supreme Court to steal the election “now that Scalia has been taken care of.”
  • Stone alleged that Clinton might have him killed. He suggested that Clinton aide Huma Abedin might be “a Saudi spy” or “terrorist agent.” He has promoted the bogus conspiracy theory that a murdered former DNC staffer was killed over leaked emails.
  • Jones said that Stone had told him that he wasn’t interested in pursuing rumors about Ted Cruz having extramarital affairs, but that the base would be more interested in Marco Rubio’s “bubble baths with other guys.” Nonetheless, Stone did push the conspiracy theory that Cruz’s father was involved in Kennedy assassination.
  • In April 2016, Stone said on Jones’s show that “the establishment” might stage an international incident as a pretext to declare martial law and cancel the election.
  • Stone said a decision by CNN and MSNBC to ban him from making appearances on the networks over his racist, misogynist and otherwise offensive Twitter attacks on other people was “something you would expect from the Nazis.”
  • When it looked as if the GOP might try to deny Trump the nomination, Stone and Jones planned “Days of Rage” in Cleveland during the Republican convention. On the first day of the convention, they held a five-hour rally featuring right-wing speakers, including Milo Yiannopoulos.
  • Stone promoted a story by conspiracy theorists Walid and Ted Shoebat alleging that Khizr Khan, the Gold Star father who challenged Trump’s reading of the Constitution from the podium of the Democratic National Convention, was a Muslim Brotherhood spy and that his late son, a soldier killed in combat, was an Islamist terrorist.
  • In September 2016, Stone said that Bill Clinton had committed treason and suggested that he should be executed; Stone had previously said Hillary Clinton should be executed.
  • Stone told Jones in early 2017 that he had been poisoned, suggesting it was part of a larger plot to sabotage Trump’s presidency.
  • Early in Trump’s presidency, Stone urged the president to “clean house” at the CIA and publicly charged that then-CIA director John Brennan was a secret convert to radical Islam.
  • Stone has been a proponent of the right-wing media effort to push the bogus Uranium One conspiracy theory as a way to discredit the FBI and undermine the Mueller investigation.
  • Stone has warned lawmakers that voting for impeachment would put their lives in danger, and that if Trump were impeached, there would be a violent insurrection.
  • In 2018, Stone endorsed the congressional campaign of conspiracy theorist and prepper Michael Snyder, who managed to pull just over 10 percent in a crowded Republican primary field.
  • In September, Stone showed up at the “Mother of all Rallies” with an entourage of members of the violent Proud Boys group. He called the Mueller investigation “illegitimate” and suggested that Mueller might have covered up the deaths of inmates who had been allegedly imprisoned to conceal ties between the FBI and the mob.