Roger Stone: There's a Difference Between Dirty Tricks and Just Being Stupid (Q&A)
The political trickster and 'Get Me Roger Stone' doc subject says he still speaks with Trump and brushes off the president's Russia scandal as media "rabble-rousing."
The Netflix documentary Get Me Roger Stone is getting lots of attention and mostly rave reviews, so The Hollywood Reporter figured it was a good time to check in with the controversial subject of the film.
Stone has been attached to some of the most notorious political tricks dating as far back as Richard Nixon’s campaign for reelection. He has also been a confidante to Donald Trump for a few decades, and he has very explicit opinions on the alleged scandals the current president is embroiled in and how the media is portraying them.
How did the movie come about?
Five years ago I was approached by the filmmakers and they proposed a documentary. They thought it would cost $125,000. I asked them how much of that they had and they said zero, but they thought they could raise it. Over a five-year period they would raise a little money, come interview me, then disappear for six months and raise a little more capital, then come back, then disappear again. About the third year, I thought this documentary would never get made. I was wrong.
Why did you agree to do it, knowing their politics were the opposite of yours?
Because all coverage is good coverage just as long as your name is spelled correctly. As I say in the film, it’s better to be infamous than never be famous at all. And, the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.
Do you like the film?
Yes. It was pretty balanced. It was neither a love letter nor a hit piece, and it was a fairly accurate depiction of the manic life of Roger Stone.
What’s the best part of the movie?
When I’m sitting in the back of a car and I say: “I just hung up with a Polish-language expert and he informs me that ‘Lewandowski’ loosely translated means ‘cock sucker.’”
What’s your problem with Corey Lewandowski?
He’s a punk, he’s a zero, he’s a liar, he’s incompetent, he’s a self-aggrandizer. It’s fine to blow your own horn when you’ve got something to blow it about, but this guy’s got no talent whatsoever.
What did the movie get wrong?
I can’t think of anything. I can quibble here and there, but look, I have never been a religious conservative. I saw one review that blamed me for the rise of the religious right, so they obviously don’t know my history. I’m a Libertarian as well as a libertine — I’ve always been pro-gay marriage, pro-legal marijuana. The way the drug laws are written are racist. Why are there harsher penalties for possession of rock cocaine than there are for possession of powder cocaine? Well, because poor black people use rock cocaine and rich white people use powder.
Are people recognizing you more because of the film?
The recognition I’ve been getting because of my appearances on Infowars is extraordinary, and I’d say since the film increased it by 20 percent. I flew from Austin, Texas, yesterday and by the time I got to my gate, I had nine people stop and ask for selfies, two people give me the finger and one guy tell me to f— off.
Does it bother you that so many people hate you?
No. I rather enjoy it.
You mention Infowars. What’s your fascination with Alex Jones, a man the mainstream media dismisses as someone who promotes idiotic conspiracies?
I wouldn’t call his views idiotic, and he reaches millions of people, more in some parts of the day than CNN reaches. It’s a great platform for reaching liberty-minded voters. And he’s a very good guy and we’ve become very good friends. And I don’t have to agree with everything. When I go on CNN, I don’t agree with Wolf Blitzer.
I thought you were banned from CNN, and MSNBC, for that matter.
It’s interesting. I recently had a nine-minute segment with Chris Cuomo. The ban at CNN, MSNBC and Fox News seems to have dissolved after the release of Get Me Roger Stone.
Back to Alex Jones. When I was at Radio Row at the Republican National Convention last year, I saw you and Jones in a huge shouting match that almost came to blows with The Young Turks. What was that about?
It was a set-up. We were walking down the row, him and me and a producer, when a woman in a red dress came up and said,"Alex, Cenk [Uygur] is on the air and he’d like you to come on and say hello." Alex had been on his show four or five times already, so he said, "sure," and as soon as he walked on the set, the same woman screams, "Stop crashing our set!" I tried to stay out of the camera shot because I saw it coming, but once Uygur saw me he started shouting, so I had to respond. He said I lied about Eliot Spitzer. I said, "Oh? He doesn’t like hookers? He didn’t resign because of them?" It was a set-up confrontation, and Cenk has called me numerous times and left messages since then, but I’ve declined to return them. I don’t know that he’s necessarily a bad guy, but it was a bush-league move.
It’s fair to call you a political trickster, right?
One man’s dirty trick is another man’s civic participation. But there’s one trick that isn’t in my bag, and that’s treason, which is why this whole thing about Russian collusion is a steaming plate of bullshit, and that’s why I predict the House committees will never call me to testify, because it would be a slaughter.
Why would they call you? I mean, what do you know the rest of us do not know?
Why wouldn’t they call me? They’ve maligned me in public, they’ve sought individual members — Al Franken, Adam Schiff, Eric Swalwell — to say that I knew about the hacking of John Podesta’s email. There’s no proof of that. The media is right, there was a candidate in bed with Vladimir Putin, her name is Hillary Clinton. John and Tony Podesta have made millions from their association with Putin. They hide behind their congressional immunity because they know I’d sue the living f— out of them. But since they malign me in public, they should allow me to respond in public. Schiff, Swalwell and the others are cowards; they’re pussies.
What political dirty trick are you most proud of?
If I told you, it wouldn’t be a successful dirty trick. They’re not things you boast about. The Nixon people did a bunch of juvenile things that didn’t get them votes. Ordering 80 pizzas and sending them to Democratic headquarters isn’t a dirty trick, it’s just stupid.
Any political trick you tried that you are not proud of?
An incident they refer to in the film when I made a giant donation of a jar of nickels and dimes and pennies to presidential candidate Pete McCloskey in the name of the Young Socialist Alliance. But it would be 40 years before I’d find out that that was the brainchild of Patrick Buchanan.
So, who told you to do that?
My boss, Jeb Magruder, at the committee to re-elect the president. It came down the chain of command. I was 19. The idea was to take the receipt to the publisher of the Manchester Union Leader who would supposedly write a story about it, but none of that happened, so it was a waste of time. It did, however, get me called in front of the Senate Watergate committee and in front of the Grand Jury. Fortunately, it was not illegal, just stupid.
What dirty trick are you often accused of that you actually had nothing to do with?
I’m accused of being behind the National Guard documents that Dan Rather used against George W. Bush. I had nothing to do with it, but it will probably still be in my obituary.
Which of the scandals associated with President Trump are legitimate?
I think none. I think history is repeating itself. The deep state disagreed with the arms limitation that Nixon agreed to with the Russians; disagreed with opening the door to the Chinese; disagreed with ending the war in Vietnam, so he was taken down. We know things now that we didn’t know then, like the Pentagon was spying on Nixon and Navy Yeoman Charles Radford was regularly rifling through desks in the White House and copying documents, and we know one of the Watergate burglars was on the CIA payroll and reporting everything to his case officer. … Nixon was set up. They took him down.
And what does this have to do with Trump?
It’s completely analogous. The opposition to Trump is because he’s not for war with Russia. The boys at the Pentagon and in the deep state are desperate for war with Russia. They wanted a no-fly zone in Syria, and Hillary Clinton promised them a proxy war. Trump is against that, therefore he’s got to go. So the media says he “disclosed classified information.” Really? Because that information had already appeared in hundreds of American newspapers. Plus, the president has the authority to declassify any document. President Obama did it regularly.
And the scandal about firing FBI director James Comey?
Comey says he has a memo. Really? When did he write it? Yesterday? Does he have a tape, because he’s a proven liar, so why why would we believe him? He said there was never surveillance of Trump at Trump Tower, and we now know that’s not true.
And now some are calling for the impeachment of Trump?
As if he’s broken laws, which he hasn’t. They couldn’t beat him at the ballot box and now they seek to remove him through this kind of coup. It worked on Nixon, but it won’t work this time.
Why are you such a fan of Nixon, even tattooing his picture on your back?
It’s not a political statement so much as a daily reminder that, in life, when things don’t go your way, when you’re knocked down and defeated and ready to give up, you have to get up off the mat and get back in the game. Nixon’s story is one of resilience. Look at his funeral — four American presidents spoke of his abilities as a peacemaker. He wrote seven best-selling books after he left the presidency.
Are you as excited about a Trump presidency as you had been?
Well, I’m concerned that he has surrounded himself with establishment Republicans — and some Democrats — who didn’t support his candidacy and don’t support his agenda, which is why his White House leaks. One of Stone’s rules is: When you go to bed with dogs, you wake up with fleas. If you served under George W. Bush, you should be exempt from serving under Trump. The Bushes are war criminals who lined their pockets while making the rest of the country poor. Trump defeated the Bushes, so why would he hire anyone affiliated with them?
Who would you fire?
Reince Priebus, Sean Spicer, Dina Habib Powell and Gary Cohn, the liberal Democrat, anti-tax cutter who is Trump’s chief economic adviser. When you hire people like this, you shouldn’t wonder why your policies are not carried out. This is the biggest danger to his presidency, that he surrounded himself with quislings.
You still communicate with Trump?
We do. I’m a memo writer and we speak on the phone from time to time. I’ve spoken to him in the past week.
What did you talk about?
I never divulge the contents or scope of conversations with the president, because the conversations will end if I do that.
Is the press covering Trump fairly?
No. It’s ridiculous. This Washington Post story about him giving Russians classified information — well, you’d think he’d given Putin the nuclear codes the way it was reported. He told the Russians he was concerned that ISIS was developing technology to turn PCs into bombs they could smuggle on airplanes. That has appeared in every major newspaper in the country. That was a secret? That’s absurd. Whatever editor at the Post greenlit that story should be shit-canned. That’s not journalism, it’s rabble-rousing.
What’s the most clever thing you did to get Trump elected?
The effort to find Bill Clinton’s illegitimate, abandoned son, Danney Williams, who looks and sounds exactly like him and was banished by Hillary. I made documentaries about him, put them on Facebook, spent $1 million to promote them to key demographics and 38 million people saw the first one, 2 million saw the second one and 15 million saw the third one. If you look at the geographic locations we targeted, Hillary’s percentage of the black vote was down 6 percent. Trump carried Wisconsin by only 10,000 votes, so a shift of that much was certainly achieved in this operation.
Did you have anything to do the Obama birther rumors?
No, I am not the progenitor of the birther narrative, although I would point out that Trump pulled ahead of Mitt Romney in the Gallup poll in 2011 after he spoke about it.
Any advice for Trump during his tour of the Middle East?
I am very pleased with the president’s highlighting of the dangers of Islamic terrorism and, while I am distrustful of the Saudis, I understand that we have a mutual enemy in nuclear Iran. I would like the president to raise the question of Saudi reparations to the families of those killed on 9/11. The Congress, as you know, overwhelmingly passed a law allowing them to sue Saudi Arabia based on that country’s funding of the attack. Obama vetoed it.