If you thought that President-elect Donald Trump was toying with Mitt Romney when he vetted the former #NeverTrump figurehead for the secretary of State position, well, you might have been right.
“Donald Trump was interviewing Mitt Romney for secretary of State in order to torture him. To toy with him,” said Roger Stone, one of Trump's closest advisers, during a Sunday interview with Infowars' Alex Jones. “And given the history, that’s completely understandable. Mitt Romney crossed a line. He didn’t just oppose Trump, which is his democratic right, he called him a phony and a fraud. And a con man. And that’s not the kind of man you want as secretary of State.”
Although it is unclear what, if any, relationship Stone has with Trump's transition efforts, he has long been a close adviser to Trump. More importantly, it is well-known that Trump often gets his news from Jones — a peddler of popular but oft-debunked conspiracy theories — from his belief in June that there was no California drought to his November assertion that he would have won the popular vote had it not been for undocumented immigrants.
In short, when a longtime Trump adviser is speaking to a popular conspiracy theorist who Trump is known to watch, it is not unreasonable to conclude that they may reflect the actual opinions of The Donald himself.
“Trump correctly said he was a choker,” Stone said to Jones about Romney, “and at the key moment in the campaign against Barack Obama he choked. Donald Trump is not a choker, in fact, he’s a scratch golfer. So in this particular case, Trump did what Romney couldn’t.”
Stone also cited Trump's ability to win Ohio, which Romney lost in 2012, as a way of twisting the knife.
“It’s always kind of tickled me, Romney struggled to carry Ohio and they poured millions and millions,” Stone told Jones. “Trump carried Ohio easily, despite the opposition of the Kasich Republican machine. It was never in doubt. He pulled out to a lead in Ohio and he never lost it. It was the one state we had in the bank.”
He also referred to Romney's "name-calling" of Trump as a "con man" and a "phony" as "beneath contempt," an assertion that may strike those familiar with the rhetoric from Trump's campaign as quite ironic.
"In retrospect, I now realize that he was diddling the guy. And someone very close to the president-elect told me that Romney's tongue was hanging out. That he kept calling Trump Tower repeatedly," Stone added. "My sources tell me that the president-elect told Mitt Romney that in order to be considered for secretary of state he would have to issue a public apology for the names he called Donald Trump, something he declined to do."