Oliver Stone Insists Putin Did Not Interfere in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election

THE PUTIN INTERVIEWS - Publicity still 2- H 2020
Courtesy of Showtime

Ever since his film JFK was released nearly 30 years ago, questioning the official story of the assassination of John F. Kennedy and making famous the skeptical phrase "back and to the left," Oliver Stone has been dismissed by some as a conspiracy nut. In a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter's 'Awards Chatter' podcast tied to the publication of his acclaimed new memoir Chasing the Light: Writing, Directing, and Surviving Platoon, Midnight Express, Scarface, Salvador, and the Movie Game, the three-time Oscar winner acknowledges that the label hurts — if not him, then his films.

"It's not that easy to brush off," Stone, 73, says. "It happens all the time. Politics overshadows the filmmaking, and I realize that, but what am I going to do? My opinions, when asked, are given. Sometimes I try to be political about it and diplomatic, but I'm not a liar and I can't go along with what the vast majority believe on so much of this history." He adds of the JFK assassination, "You had to have at least two shooters, and [Lee Harvey] Oswald was not one of them."

Lest anyone think Stone has not been driven into conformity, though, he insisted during the podcast that Russian President Vladimir Putin — with whom he spent time making the 2017 Showtime docuseries The Putin Interviews — did not interfere with America's 2016 presidential election to help advance the cause of President Donald Trump, which is the opposite of what numerous U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded.

"Jesus Christ, do you think everybody in the country has to believe this Russian election stuff?" Stone asked. "Do you think we all have to agree? Does anybody have any ability to dissent from an opinion? Is it a fact that that happened? I mean, if you talk to a lot of the intelligent people in the cyber community — and I have because I did a film about Edward Snowden [2016's Snowden] — they will tell you that it was not a hack, it was a steal, it was an inside job [referring to the hack of Democratic National Committee emails, which were then leaked ahead of the 2016 Democratic National Convention]."

Stone continued, "And [the now-incarcerated WikiLeaks founder] Julian Assange has been good on his word ever since he started; he's been an authentic person. I admire him deeply. To say that he was in collusion with the Russians and all this is part of some kind of crazy fiction that has happened to this country. You probably believe it. You have no choice but to believe it."

When, in response, it was stated that the U.S. intelligence community has uniformly concluded that Putin interfered in the election, Stone protested, "Not uniformly, no! Their original statement was 'a high degree of confidence' or something like that, and it was taken from three agencies, not from the 17 that they claim. In fact, you could go back into the intelligence community and you will find dissenters if they're honest. This has been misrepresented. I've talked to a lot of experts on this."

His theory regarding the DNC hack: "The FBI did not do its job. They should have gotten the original system — got back into the DNC computer — but they didn't give it. They gave it to a private company, CrowdStrike, that was on their payroll. So the whole thing is crooked from the inside. It feels like the JFK case again. It wasn't planned, it was developed that way. But it certainly was developed from inside. Sore losers, I would call it. And, by the way, I don't have any— Trump has done things that are horrifying to me." (The CrowdStrike theory has been discredited.)

Stone explained, "I'm trying to understand both sides, trying to understand the mind of Julian Assange, the mind of whoever hacked the DNC — what did he hack and what was on his mind? Maybe it bothered him that the Democratic Party was selling out the way it did; maybe it bothered him — Hillary Clinton's Wall Street speeches or the DNC undermining of Bernie Sanders. Maybe it bothered him and maybe he did take things out to give them to Assange, which is what a lot of people say happened. But that story has been 'discredited'; I don't know why. Because it doesn't fit the present agenda for a Cold War against Russia, which is basically for more money for the military, when we're spending a fortune already, and now it's for China, too."

He added, "You're going to regret this kind of thinking. This kind of thinking leads to conventional war. The Cold War grows and grows and grows, and then we take it to the edge because we have to, because 'We're Americans and we're top of the world' — we think we're top of the world. We're going to take things to a place that is very dangerous for our people. That's why I'm dissenting from this, you understand? And it's important we have dissenters."

Asked who he would encourage Americans to vote for in the 2020 presidential election, Trump or former Vice President Joe Biden, Stone demurred, "It's up to them. I'm not going to jump into that one. Biden has his problems, too."