AP featured image
Roger Stone exits federal court Washington, Friday, Nov. 15, 2019. Stone, longtime friend of President Donald Trump, has been found guilty at his trial in federal court in Washington. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

 

David French has written a deeply dishonest story today about the prosecution of Roger Stone, and how the commutation of his sentence by Pres. Trump doesn’t change the “facts” of the case.

Well, if you’re looking for “facts”, David French’s “story” isn’t the place to start.

“Mueller’s investigation revealed Stone’s contacts with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and hacker Guccifer 2.0 during the 2016 campaign.”

So, what did Mueller’s investigation “reveal” on this question?  Not nearly as much as the repeated recitation of innuendo and guilt-by-association being passed off as “facts” in the media would lead you to believe. But that “innuendo” is what French seemingly relies on to form his views about Roger Stone.

Out the outset let us note that the Mueller Report found that the Guccifer 2.0 persona was the creation of Russian GRU operatives, and first appeared on June 15, 2016, to take credit for the hack of the DNC and DCCC databases.

Now let us work backward by starting with the last thing Mueller said about Stone’s contacts with Guccifer 2.0.  At Page 44, the last sentence of the first paragraph stated:

“The investigation did not identify evidence of other communications between Stone and Guccifer 2.0.”

That is a definitive statement, so if we look at what proceeded it, we have – according to Mueller’s Report — everything about communications between Stone and Guccifer 2.0.  With those as our operational parameters, here is what the Report states at P. 44:

In early August 2016, Stone publicly protested Twitter’s suspension of the Guccifer 2.0 Twitter account. After it was reinstated, GRU officers posing as Guccifer 2.0 wrote to Stone via private message “thank u for writing back… do u find anyt[h]ing interesting in the docs I posted?”

On August 17, 2016, GRU added “please tell me if I can help u anyhow … it would be a great pleasure to me.”

On September 9, 2016, the GRU – again posing as Guccifer 2.0 – referring to the stolen DCCC documents posted online and asked Stone “what do u think of the info on the turnout model for democrats entire presidential campaign.”  Stone responded “pretty standard.”

The next sentence after Stone’s answer “pretty standard” is where the Mueller Report states “The investigation did not identify evidence of other communications between Stone and Guccifer 2.0.”

That’s it.  Two messages in August (one of which is not dated), and one exchange of two messages in September.  That’s the extent of “Mueller’s investigation” revelations about Stone’s contacts with Guccifer 2.0.   Shocking.  How did the Republic survive such an assault?

Maybe it was Stone’s communications with Assange that keep French up at nights looking out for Cossacks because of Stone’s “contacts.”

The problems on that front start with the fact that the Mueller Report doesn’t provide any evidence of contacts between Stone and Assange – and that’s a pretty big problem for French’s diatribe.

At Page 54, as part of the Report’s section about Roger Stone, the caption of subparagraph (c) reads:

“Roger Stone’s Efforts To Communicate with Wikileaks”

When you have to put “Efforts” in the middle of a caption on the section covering the existence of contacts between two parties, you sort of “give away the game” with a concession that you didn’t find any actual contacts.  That should have been a clue to French that Mueller had looked for contacts between Stone and Wikileaks/Assange, but hadn’t found any.  But that assumes that French actually read the Mueller Report, rather than rely on narrators at The Bulwark and Lawfareblog.

When you read the Report, you quickly realize that although Stone did brag about having been “in contact” with Assange, he later “clarified” it to say that his contact was through an intermediary “journalist,” and he had never met or spoken to Assange directly.  It later turned out that – as reported by Mueller – that wasn’t even true because the intermediary, Jerome Corsi, never spoke to Assange either, although Corsi told Stone he had.

The closest Stone came to Assange was asking Corsi on July 31 in an email to arrange contact with Assange in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London through a person Corsi knew in London named Theodore Malloch.  Malloch told Mueller he got the request from Corsi to make contact with Assange – Corsi wanted to interview Assange — but Malloch never acted on the request, and he never transmitted any information back to Corsi about Assange.

That didn’t stop Corsi from lying to Stone two days later in an email dated Aug. 2, telling Stone that Malloch had given him information.  Corsi wrote in an email to Stone “Word is friend in the Embassy plans 2 more dumps….” and he goes on to explain the “details” — none of which turn out to be correct.

The Mueller report states that at a GOP event for the “Southwest Broward Republican Organization” on Aug. 8, Stone made a public claim that “I actually have communicated with Assange,” ostensibly a claim about his conduit through Corsi.  But what Corsi had told him was a lie.  Corsi was making it all up in order to make himself look important to Stone.  Corsi gives away his lie by ending his message with “I expect much of the next dump focus setting the stage for Foundation debacle”.   No information was ever released about the Clinton Foundation, and Corsi hadn’t been told anything about the Clinton Foundation — or anything else — by Assange or anyone who spoke with Assange.

The fact that Stone bragged about non-existent events to Bannon, Gates, Cohen, and others doesn’t make them real.  But THAT is the innuendo that has been peddled by the press and NeverTrumpers like David French who so badly want it to be true that Roger Stone WAS a connection between the Trump Campaign and the Russian GRU.

The Mueller Report doesn’t claim that any Stones comments to anyone else were “factual evidence” of actual communications between Stone and Assange.  That is because the SCO knew there were no such actual communications.  The entire section on Roger Stone is about what Stone claimed he was doing based on what other people said he told them.  There is ZERO corroboration in the Report that anything Stone claimed he was doing ever actually happened.

The SCO wanted Corsi to plead guilty and testify against Stone.  But they ultimately realized was that Corsi was a serial fabricator and would be useless as a witness.  The report goes through four different versions of one sequence of events told by Corsi — in four separate interviews he told the story differently in key details — yet he wasn’t prosecuted for his “false statements.”  Corsi released a draft plea agreement he was given to sign related to “false statements” he made to the SCO investigators, but when he refused the SCO simply dropped the matter rather than indict him.  Why?  Because prosecuting Corsi had no “value”.   Corsi was not important to the narrative because he had no connection to Donald Trump.  And prosecuting Corsi would have meant putting on testimony to establish as a FACT that Roger Stone had no connection to Wikileaks or Julian Assange through Corsi — Corsi was supposed to be that connection and prosecuting Corsi for lying about that connection would have forever severed the “connection” between Stone and Wikileaks/Assange/Russian GRU that was at the heart of the innuendo that the Trump campaign sought Russian assistance to win the election.

George Papadopolous tells an innocuous “half-truth” by providing an inaccurate date, and he’s forced to eat a “false statement” charge.  Why?  He was a Trump campaign advisor.

Gen. Michael Flynn omits information from answers to FBI agents, and he’s forced to eat a “false statement” charge.  Why?  He was Trump’s National Security Advisor.

Roger Stone is convicted for lying to Congress where his “lies” are almost exclusively related to covering up the fact that he had not been honest with Trump and campaign officials about a connection to Assange and Wikileaks — he had none — and the SCO seeks an 87-month sentence.  Why?  Because he’s been a 30-year friend and advisor to Trump.

Jerome Corsi is none of those things.  Even though his lies to the SCO are set forth in the Report, and he’s given a plea agreement to sign but he refuses to do so, and the SCO drops the matter rather than indict him.

If you want proof of a “two-tiered” justice system under the SCO, there it is.  If there was narrative value in nailing your scalp to the wall, the SCO did it — even when they knew they could not prove the underlying crime — Gen. Flynn.  When there was no narrative value, they dumped you off on the nearest street corner with cab fare to get you home.

But there is evidence in the Mueller Report that reveals the “hit job” that was performed on Roger Stone, and the level of disinformation that permeates the Report if you recognize when things look out of place.  David French is a smart guy, but he sorely lacks the ability to recognize such signs.

At P. 53 of the Report there a passage attributed to Micheal Cohen about a telephone call he overheard between Stone and Trump where the date of that call is critical to supporting the narrative that Stone probably was in contact with Assange in the summer of 2016, and was given information ahead of document releases by Wikileaks.

Cohen told the SCO that he was in Trump’s office in mid-July, 2016 when a call came in from Roger Stone, and Cohen heard the entire conversation over the speakerphone.  Cohen said this call was definitely before the July 22, 2016, first release of DNC documents by Wikileaks.  Cohen placed the call as having been on either July 18 or July 19.  He said that during the call Stone told Trump he had just gotten off the phone with Assange, and there would be a release of information in a couple of days.  On July 22, 2016, Wikileaks made its first release of documents, and viola — Stone was telling the truth, he must have in contact Assange as he claimed, and he does have advance knowledge of when the document releases will be coming.

But NOTHING is offered in the Report to corroborate Cohens’ story — other than the fact that Wikileaks released documents on July 22, 2016.

Move forward to P. 59 of the Report, which covers phone calls between Stone and Corsi in October 2016 near the date of the release of the Access Hollywood tape.

“Telephone records show that, on the morning of October 7, 2016, Stone had a conversation with a reporter from the Washington Post….  However, phone records themselves do not indicate that the conversation was with any of the reporters who broke the Access Hollywood story….  Telephone records show communications between Stone and Corsi on October 7, 2016….

What does one have to do with the other, and why is it significant??

TELEPHONE RECORDS.  The SCO had them and analyzed them.  The Report reveals the dates and times of contacts between Stone, Corsi, and reporters in relationship to the release of the Access Hollywood tape in order to corroborate Stone had said about his conversations about the release of the tape.

So why are there no similar references on P. 53 if the Report about Stone’s telephone records with regard to the July 18 or 19 call to Trump that Cohen claims he overheard?   According to Cohen — as stated in the Report:

“Stone was patched through to the office and was placed on speakerphone.  Stone then told the candidate he had just gotten off the phone with Julian Assange and in a couple of days Wikileaks would release information.”

Where is the Mueller Report’s corroborating information that Stone’s telephone records show calls to Trump and Assange on July 18 or 19 — or any date prior to the July 22, 2016 release of the first set of DNC documents by Wikileaks?   If the phone records showed those two calls as described by Cohen, the Mueller Report would have certainly referenced them as that would have been confirmation of Cohen’s story, AND cemented the narrative that Stone DID have contact with Assange and information about Wikileaks ahead of the releases of materials.  But we know Stone didn’t ever have actual contact with Assange prior to the election, as the Mueller Report says so.

The Mueller Report doesn’t make any reference to telephone records one way or the other with regard to Cohen’s story.  Why?  Because they DON’T reflect the calls as recounted by Cohen.  If the Mueller Report had truthfully reported that no such calls were reflected in Stone’s telephone records, that would have been confirmation of 1) Cohen was lying to make himself look good and assist in building the false narrative of a Trump-Wikileaks connection, and 2) Roger Stone had no connection to Assange.

That is why the SCO opted to make no reference to them at all — it was a CONSCIOUS decision when they wrote their deeply dishonest account of events during the summer of 2016.

The Mueller investigation left no stone unturned (no pun intended), and no rabbit hole unexplored.  They had all the money and all the time they wanted.  They had GJ subpoena power to grab phone records and email communications.  And other than three Twitter message exchanges they document in July and August 2016 between Stone and Guccifer 2.0, they could document no other actual contacts between Roger Stone and Guccifer 2.0/Assange/Wikileaks, or anyone else they could connect to the hacking of the DNC and DNCC computer files.

Back to French:

As the congressional probe began to lay bare the extent of Stone’s attempt to undermine Trump’s political rivals, he denied several of Mueller’s key discoveries in his testimony.

What were Mueller’s “key discoveries”?  Saying they exist doesn’t make it true.  The SCO had Roger Stone on TRIAL.  They could have put in whatever evidence they wanted regarding their “key discoveries” about Roger Stone.  They called 5 witnesses in total.  They all talked about fabricated stories Stone had told them.  There wasn’t a single witness who the SCO called who provided evidence that Stone had connections to Assange or Wikileaks.  If they had such evidence you would have heard it.

This is reminiscent of the ruling by Judge Dabney Friedrich in the Concord Consulting case that the SCO would not be allowed to make reference to any allegation that the Russian government was involved in the acts alleged against Concord Consulting because there was no EVIDENCE of a connection between the Russian Government and Concord Consulting — not that you would know that from reading the indictment in the case.  But that’s another story — and one that is coming soon.

More from French:

Stone’s conviction for lying under oath was a result of his connection with WikiLeaks—an organization that uncovers and publishes classified information. In the fall of 2016, Stone sent a series of Twitter messages revealing his insider knowledge of the group’s recent discoveries. On October 3, he tweeted: “I have total confidence that @wikileaks and my hero Julian Assange will educate the American people soon #LockHerUp.”  A few days later, WikiLeaks released emails lifted from Hilary Clinton’s head political consultant John Podesta.

The fact that Roger Stone “predicted” the happening of an event – the possibility of which was being widely discussed in the political arena one month ahead of a Presidential Election – and then that event comes to pass isn’t evidence that Roger Stone had inside information.  Mueller developed NO FACTS that even suggested Stone had the inside information he was telling others that he had.  In fact, just the opposite.  Mueller’s investigation landed on the final conclusion that Stone was making it all up while desperately trying to find a path to Assange — first through Corsi and later through Credico.  The fact that Stone’s guess about what Wikileaks might to just happened to be generally correct isn’t evidence that he had inside information.  If I guess the sun will rise in the next 24 hours, there’ a good chance I’ll be correct too.

More French duplicity in print:

An investigation by The Atlantic revealed extensive communication between Stone and WikiLeads in October and November 2016, contradicting his testimony that he had only communicated with the organization through an intermediary. After Trump’s election to the presidency, WikiLeaks wrote to Stone, “Happy? Now we are free to communicate.”

“Extensive”???  That’s gaslighting of the first order — or maybe he didn’t actually read the Atlantic story.  Atlantic’s article revealed there were two exchanges between Stone and some anonymous person at the Wikileaks Twitter account, one in October and one in November.

October:

Stone:  Since I am all over TV, cable and print defending wikileaks and Assange against the claim that you are Russian agents and debunking the false charges of sexual assault as trumped up bs you may want to reexamine the strategy of attacking me—cordially R.

Wiki:  We appreciate that.  However, the false claims of association are being used by the democrats to undermine the impact of our publications.  Don’t go there if you don’t want us to correct you.

Stone: Ha! The more you “correct” me the more people think you’re lying.  Your operation leaks like a sieve.  You need to figure out who your friends are.

November (after the election):

Wiki:  Happy?  We are now free to communicate.

The October exchange was prompted by a pubic statement issued by Wikileaks that they had no connection to Roger Stone.

It’s simply inane and dishonest to claim as French does that these two exchanges are evidence of “extensive” communications between Stone and Wikileaks.  The first one shows antagonism between the two – Stone is not happy being attacked — presumably by Wikileaks — and Wikileaks is not happy with Stone claiming an association that Wikileaks says doesn’t exist between them.

But at the end of his story French finally gets to the boil on his ass that he’s been trying to lance all along:

Even before his involvement in Trump’s 2016 campaign, Stone’s reputation preceded him. He began his career in the 1970s as a staunch supporter of Richard Nixon and ends it with a shrewd appreciation for the calculated and thick-skinned approach to politics that the former president instilled in him.

That’s what this is all about – Roger Stone’s “original sin” is that he’s unapologetic about his past relationship and support of Richard Nixon.  Along with his connection to the hated Roy Cohn, Roger Stone will never escape that condemnation by his “conservative betters” like David French and those at places like The Bulwark and formerly the Weekly Standard.