Ken White on the Roger Stone Indictment
Ken White has an excellent analysis of Roger Stone and his criminal troubles in The Atlantic:
Stone is perfectly suited for the age of clickbait. He’s got a flamboyant wardrobe, a Nixon tattoo, and a flair for getting people to laugh at him. He has a brand: truculent and unjustified self-confidence, meandering trash-talking, and a penchant for lashing out at perceived enemies. These things make him a reliable eye-catcher. Nobody ever changed the channel when Stone was trying to talk himself out of trouble. But these same qualities make Stone and people like him easy targets for a ruthless prosecutor. The indictment depicts Stone acting in private more or less the way he acts in public. The special counsel has charged Stone with five counts of lying to Congress, one count of witness tampering, and one count of obstructing a House intelligence probe into Russian interference.
The indictment charges that Stone eagerly pitched himself to the Trump campaign as the man with connections to WikiLeaks (thinly disguised as “Organization 1” in the document); that he vigorously mined his network to suggest questions for WikiLeaks to answer, amid a media blitz in which he touted upcoming leaks about Trump’s Democratic challenger, Hillary Clinton. The indictment identifies Stone’s WikiLeaks connection only as “Person 1,” but news reports have repeatedly identified him as the author and conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi. The indictment identifies Stone’s favorite media contact as “Person 2,” someone who is widely believed to be Randy Credico, a dog-fancying talk-show host who comes off as a slightly dim off-Broadway understudy for the role of Stone. The common theme of Stone’s compulsive texts and emails to Corsi, Credico, and the Trump campaign was not just an appetite for dirt on Clinton, but Stone’s own relentless self-promotion. It appears he was successful in getting the attention he wanted—the indictment reveals that a “high-ranking Trump Campaign official” sent Stone a text message reading “well done” after WikiLeaks released stolen Clinton campaign emails in October 2016.
. . . .
Most cinematically, the special counsel charges that Stone turned on Credico, bullying and threatening him in an effort to get Credico to shut up or support Stone’s story. The indictment says that Stone quoted Richard Nixon: “Stonewall it. Plead the fifth. Anything to save the plan.” Stone, according to the indictment, also invoked The Godfather: Part II, telling Credico to do a “Frank Pentangeli,” referencing a character who tells Congress he knows nothing of Michael Corleone and then kills himself in prison. Perhaps Stone hoped that Credico hadn’t watched the whole movie. Eventually, Stone allegedly turned to abuse and threats, calling Credico a rat and a stoolie, threatening to take his dog away, and telling him to “prepare to die,” the indictment said. Stone did all of this in writing because—again—Roger Stone can’t stop being Roger Stone. Credico, for his part, repeatedly advised Stone to smarten up, stop perjuring himself, and tell the truth. When Randy Credico is the most sensible person in your indictment, you’ve fallen upon hard times.
It’s all very funny — and but for some grumpy editors lacking a sense of humor, it could have been even funnier:
They took out my description of Jerome Corsi as “the only person in America less verbally continent than Roger Stone.”
— PerpHatWalk (@Popehat) January 26, 2019
Ken notes that the communications with Wikileaks alleged in the indictment are not criminal in and of themselves, although they would have been damaging to Trump’s candidacy had they been revealed before the election.
It’s so weird how Trump is surrounded by criminals — his campaign manager, his national security adviser, his lawyer and fixer, his buddies and media pals — and yet is not a criminal himself! (Hopefully you can hear the eyeroll in my writing.)
UPDATE: I added a third paragraph to the quotation above. It’s too good not to quote.
[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]