The longtime political adviser to President Donald Trump gives lengthy interviews about his role in the 2016 presidential election. He writes combative op-eds about Robert Mueller, who is investigating him. He invites reporters into his home for open-ended hangout sessions.
It’s all part of a pre-emptive counterattack against the special counsel’s Russia investigation, which many legal experts believe is inexorably closing in on Stone.
All the while, he appears unfazed that his media saturation makes him an open book for Mueller’s prosecutors as they assess whether the truth of the 2016 campaign makes him a criminal or just a crude braggart. Even lawyers he’s consulted with admit it’s a risky move considering Mueller has held other people’s public commentary against them in court.
But a clear reminder of the benefit of being in the public eye came on Monday, when Trump cited Stone’s vow, made on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” a day earlier, that he would never testify against the president. Trump approvingly tweeted that the stance took “guts!”
The next day, Stone’s friend and former Trump campaign adviser Michael Caputo sent out a mass email announcing the creation of a GoFundMe legal defense fund for Stone’s legal bills “to pay the costs he’s incurring due to his two year torture.” Caputo said Stone, who posted an Instagram image of himself last month wearing sunglasses and smoking a cigar in a beach chair, has “lost everything.”
“Staying quiet isn’t going to attract contributions,” said Kendall Coffey, a Miami-based former federal prosecutor who briefly discussed joining Stone’s legal defense team in mid-2017. “Staying low profile offers no benefits for him.”
“Most defense lawyers would say don’t show any of your cards,” said Coffey. “Hold back because you don’t know how the government information is crystallizing. You don’t know how the possible defense might emerge. To lock yourself into a narrative is usually a mistake for a prospective defendant.”
Stone’s approach is a marked contrast with some of the first people pulled into the Mueller investigation, including former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his deputy, Rick Gates. All three stayed away from interviews and otherwise commenting directly to reporters.
Stone’s friends say he keeps speaking up in anticipation that Mueller — if prosecution comes — could seek the same kind of court-imposed gag order that has silenced both Manafort and Gates. “He’s only going to get his story out for so long,” said one friend. “Roger is smart. He understands at some point they’re going to gag him.”
Tyler Nixon, a Colorado-based attorney who is counseling Stone, said he wouldn’t even consider trying to muzzle his client and longtime friend. “There’s so much disinformation and so much defamation,” Nixon said. “I don’t see that he has any other choice.”
But others say Stone would be wise to hit the mute button. “I think for his own sake he should be quiet,” said Nunberg, who has described Stone as “a surrogate father” and mentor. “The president can get away with what the president can get away with. He’s not the president.”
Why Roger Stone won't shut up (Politico)