Roger Stone, Donald Trump and the Jan. 6 coup: Is a major bombshell coming?

Did the master of Republican "black arts" finally go too far? It may be Roger Stone's time in the barrel at last

By Heather Digby Parton


Published September 28, 2022 10:02AM (EDT)

Donald Trump and Roger Stone (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)
Donald Trump and Roger Stone (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)

If there is one prominent through-line connecting the two most corrupt presidents in U.S. history, Richard Nixon and Donald Trump, it would have to be the person of Roger Stone. The man has been at the heart of every election scandal for the past 50 years and he's still at it, even today. It's quite a legacy for the guy who has Richard Nixon's face tattooed on his back. It's lucky he left his chest clear for his last great cause, Donald Trump. Stone's work on Trump's behalf provides the perfect coda to a legendary career as a political dirty trickster and world-class black-ops conspiracy-monger.

Stone has had his fingerprints on every nefarious deed the Republicans have pulled in the last half-century, starting when he was a kid working on Nixon's re-election campaign in 1972, and given the job of spying on rival campaigns and finding devious ways to embarrass them in the press. He has said that during the day he was a scheduler but at night, he was "trafficking in the black arts."

In 1977, at age 24, Stone was elected president of the Young Republicans with the help of his buddy Paul Manafort, after they had reportedly compiled "whip books," or files of personal information, on all 800 delegates to the convention. He went on to work on all of Ronald Reagan's presidential campaigns doing what he does best. Stone has claimed, for example, that he served as a go-between when Roy Cohn — the infamous mob lawyer and mentor to Donald Trump — got liberal Republican John Anderson on the New York general election ballot as a third-party candidate in 1980, splitting the vote and allowing Reagan to win the state. Stone has hinted that he delivered a suitcase full of money to a lawyer to make that happen.

Stone then teamed up with Manafort, Charlie Black and the infamous Lee Atwater to form a lobbying and consulting firm that became known as "The Torturer's Lobby" for its willingness to represent the world's most infamous dictators, along with such right-wing luminaries as Rupert Murdoch. He worked with Trump for years, as an adviser and lobbyist for his gambling interests and later as manager of Trump's brief campaign for the Reform Party's presidential nomination in 2000.

Yes, Stone was deeply involved in the 2000 Florida recount, taking credit for the famous "Brooks Brothers riot" that delayed the vote count long enough for the Supreme Court to intervene (others have disputed that he was actually behind that). Throughout the 2000s he perpetrated underhanded dirty tricks in various campaigns, including the formation of an anti-Hillary Clinton group in 2008 called Citizens United Not Timid, purely for the fun of using the crude acronym to own the libs. By 2015 he was egging on his old pal Donald Trump to run for president again, for real this time. He worked for the Trump campaign, at first in an official capacity and then off the books to practice his "dark arts."

Hurricane Ian has forced postponement of the Jan. 6 committee's next hearing. But it looks like the storm is coming for Roger Stone.

You may recall that in 2019 Stone was convicted on charges relating to his alleged coordination with WikiLeaks aimed at sabotaging Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign. But Attorney General Bill Barr rode to his rescue, overruling the career prosecutors and recommending a light sentence, which Trump then commuted. All four prosecutors withdrew from the case in protest. That was the closest call of Stone's career, and the only time anyone has ever seriously tried to hold him liable for his toxic influence on American politics. (Trump eventually pardoned him, which Stone no doubt knew would happen. He knows where all the Trump bodies are buried.)

The Jan. 6 House select committee had to postpone Wednesday's scheduled public hearing, with a major hurricane descending on Florida and dominating the news. But as with previous hearings, the committee teased some of its revelations earlier this week, and we know that Stone's involvement in the Trump coup plot and the Jan. 6 insurrection will feature heavily in their presentation. Some incriminating clips from an unreleased documentary about Stone shot during the 2020 election campaign and its aftermath have already been released.

Want a daily wrap-up of all the news and commentary Salon has to offer? Subscribe to our morning newsletter, Crash Course.

In an interview with CNN, the Danish filmmakers have said that committee lawyers had flown to Copenhagen to see what they had regarding interactions between Stone, the Trump White House, the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers. Reportedly they identified around eight minutes of relevant footage. Even what we've seen so far is startling. In July 2020, the documentary crew captured Roger Stone saying:

What they're assuming is the election will be normal. The election will not be normal. "These are the California results." Sorry. We're not accepting them. We're challenging them in court. If the electors show up at the — at the Electoral College, armed guards will throw them out. "Fuck you. I'm the president. Fuck you. You're not stealing Florida. You're not stealing. I'm challenging all of it."

And the judges we're going to. Our judges. "I appointed you. Fuck you. You're not stealing the election." That's what — that basically what Bush did to Gore.

So, you know, if they want to run a bunch of fake ballots, we'll have an investigation. We'll say, "These ballots are fake. Your results are invalidated. Goodbye." That's the way it's going to have to look. It's going to be really nasty. But you cannot count on, we're not going to get an honest election.

So, let's say that Trump is a little behind right now, which he probably is. That doesn't bother me. But even if he wins an honest election, we're not going to have an honest election. They're going to steal it. They're stealing this blindfolded right now. So, you know, it's not the first time it's happened in this country and it happens around the world.

So, he's going to have to — he's going to have to fight for the presidency in the courts. Our next election will be decided in the courts. Because they cheat and we don't cheat. We've never cheated.

Setting aside the unbelievable fatuousness of Stone's proclamation that "we've never cheated," which is deeply absurd coming from him, this pretty well lays out the conspiracy to overturn the election, three months before it was executed. He knew Trump was behind and likely to lose. The question before the House committee now is  whether or not Roger Stone and Donald Trump were plotting this together and whether Stone was colluding with the violent extremists with whom he associated to start the insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021.

If there is anyone in American politics who's capable of doing such a thing, it's Roger Stone. It would be the ultimate dirty trick of all time, the crowning achievement of a storied rat-fucking career. 

By Heather Digby Parton

Heather Digby Parton, also known as "Digby," is a contributing writer to Salon. She was the winner of the 2014 Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism.

MORE FROM Heather Digby Parton

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Commentary Donald Trump Jan. 6 Jan. 6 Committee Oath Keepers Proud Boys Richard Nixon Roger Stone