That “crossed the line” boast vanished this week, when a jury found him guilty
on seven counts of witness tampering, making false statements and lying to Congress at a fateful 2017 hearing about his connection to Wikileaks during the 2016 campaign.
Stone had publicly claimed to have a back channel
to Julian Assange and the shadowy Wikileaks operation, and to know in advance about stolen emails that were released at key moments in the 2016 campaign, timed to help Trump
by inflicting maximum harm on Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee.
Stone’s connection was (he claimed in classic Roger Stone style) a slightly shady but perfectly legal arrangement. Special counsel Robert Mueller thought otherwise
and indicted Stone for lying about the nature of those connections.
The jury agreed. The Wikileaks caper turned out to be one dirty trick too many.
Stone gleefully cultivated the image of, as he once put it, “a libertarian and a libertine,
” the kind of man prepared to take on sketchy assignments that other operatives would shun as too risky or immoral. He drove expensive Jaguar sedans, dressed impeccably in custom-tailored Saville Row suits, frequented sex clubs
and got bounced from the 1996 presidential campaign of Bob Dole when
the National Enquirer published an ad seeking group sex partners to join him and his wife in a liaison.
I frequently interviewed Stone about political strategy,
Florida politics, the reasons for Trump’s rise
and men’s fashion
(about which he happens to be brilliant). He was an undeniably colorful character in the political circus and might yet emerge from what is the biggest setback in his life.
Trump-haters might imagine that Stone, facing up to 20 years in prison, might be in a prime position to share damning information about the President. That’s wishful thinking.
The problem that sank Stone at trial was his many years of posturing as the bad boy who would twist the truth and break the rules whenever necessary. Having established a reputation for shadiness, it became difficult for Stone to convince a jury that he was, for once, completely on the level.
That same issue will come up if prosecutors try to flip Stone and get him to reveal anything damaging about Trump. Who would believe him?