Robert Mueller is getting stoned. Not in any corporeal sense, I hasten to note. Rather, his investigation appears to be focusing on any ties that the Trump campaign may have had to the voluble former Nixon operative Roger Stone. Like Michael Cohen, who once proclaimed that he would take a bullet for Donald Trump, Stone is now noisily professing his loyalty to the president. ‘The special counsel pokes into every aspect of my social, family, personal, business and political life, seeking something — anything — he can use to pressure me, to silence me and to try to induce me to testify against my friend Donald Trump,’ Stone declared in a recent video. ‘This I will not do. When I say I won’t roll on the president, what I mean is I will not be forced to make up lies to bring him down.’ But will he prove any more loyal than Cohen, or, for that matter, his old chum Paul Manafort, if faced with a few years in the hoosegow?
Manafort has been reduced to a wheelchair, quite a comedown from the days when he strolled around Washington in pricey bespoke Italian habiliments. Stone, like Manafort, is a devotee of bespoke attire, though he seems to favour English clothing — specifically, the venerable masters of the drape cut, Anderson & Sheppard — which may come as something of a relief to readers of The Spectator. My guess is that if anything might persuade Stone to crack, it would be the prospect of having to exchange his fancy duds for prison garb.
Mueller, according to the Washington Post, is scrutinising Stone’s contacts to WikiLeaks during the 2016 campaign. Mueller’s team is apparently trying to divine whether Stone had advance knowledge of the thousands of hacked Democratic emails that WikiLeaks disseminated. Liberal gadfly Randy A. Credico, a former friend of Stone’s, says that he confided to him that he had a backchannel to WikiLeaks. Even weirder is the putative Stone connection to Jerome R. Corsi, a right-wing conspiracy theorist who helped fan the Obama birther story in his 2011 book Where’s the Birth Certificate? Stone indicates that Trump was fascinated by Corsi and spoke with him.
For his part, Stone is challenging the Post report in Trumpian fashion. According to the Hill, Stone sent a message to it stating, ‘Today’s Washington Post contains one of the shoddiest pieces of reporting that I have seen my 40 years in American Politics.’ Stone added, ‘THE WASHINGTON POST IS BUSTED.’ The notion that he, Stone, colluded with WikiLeaks is a ‘left-wing conspiracy theory.’
But it may not be that easy for Stone to wriggle out of culpability for his past statements to Congress. Vanity Fair notes, ‘The stakes are high for Stone as Mueller seeks to disentangle the conflicting claims. During his September 2017 testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, Stone claimed he had ‘never said or written’ that he had any direct communications with Assange, and that any of his communications with WikiLeaks were through Credico. Stone’s phrasing may have been deliberately unclear. But if Credico’s account is truthful, then Stone may have perjured himself.’ Coming weeks may show whether Stone rolls on Trump or not. If he does, he will become the newest rolling Stone.