A 40-month prison sentence brings an end to the decades-long career of Roger Stone, a smooth-talking agent provocateur and self-proclaimed dirty trickster who thrived in the shadier margins of U.S. politics.
But before Stone’s fate was revealed, he arrived to court all smiles amid a tweet storm of support from President Trump, who could still have his longtime political ally and Watergate survivor walk away scot-free should he decide to issue a pardon.
Trump had already voiced his fury at the initial nine-year sentence demanded by career prosecutors for Stone’s guilty verdict of lying to Congress, which Attorney General William Barr later overruled, sending the Department of Justice into a crisis.
This is just the latest chapter in Stone’s extraordinary career of political swindling that had seen him evade jail time despite being entangled in some of the most controversial presidencies in U.S. history.
Roger Stone was sentenced to 40 months in prison Thursday after being found guilty in November of obstructing justice, witness tampering and lying to Congress
President Trump issued a series of tweets Thursday morning in support of Roger Stone ahead of his sentencing for lying to Congress
Growing up in Lewisboro, New York, to a blue-collar Catholic family, Roger Jason Stone Jr.’s zeal for the rough and tumble of political life was apparent from a young age.
In elementary school he advocated for John F. Kennedy telling kids in the cafeteria line that Nixon would make them attend extra classes on a Saturday if he won the 1960 election.
When he was a junior and vice president of student government in high school Stone manipulated the ouster of the president so he could take over.
‘I built alliances and put all my serious challengers on my ticket,’ he would brag to the New York Times decades later.
‘I recruited the most unpopular guy in the school to run against me. You think that’s mean? No, it’s smart.’
Stone entered the political arena for real in 1972 when he ditched his studies at George Washington University, this time to support Nixon in his re-election campaign – not to be the only time he shifted allegiances without a qualm.
In one of his first ‘dirty tricks’ he contributed $135 to one of Nixon’s Republican rivals in the name of the Young Socialist Alliance – then slipped the receipt to a journalist.
When Nixon triumphed the braggadocios young aide was rewarded was a job on the administration. Perhaps unintentionally, his association with student dirty tricks also gained him an association with the ‘ratf***ers,’ the dirty operative beloved of Nixon.
Stone himself denied being one of them, saying they were from the University of Southern California, but the nickname was attached to him for life.
He worked for Richard Nixon, becoming so enthralled with the president that Stone would later have Nixon’s face tattooed on his back
Stone was hired as an adviser when Trump finally launched a bid for the White House nearly two decades later after Stone first suggested he run. Stone was pushed out in a power struggle
The 37th President of the United States left a lasting impression on Stone: the longtime GOP operative would later have Nixon’s face tattooed on his back.
‘Women love it,’ he told the New Yorker. ‘The reason I’m a Nixonite is because of his indestructibility and resilience.
Nixon left another legacy on Stone: Watergate.
During congressional hearings into the scandal in 1973 it emerged Stone had recruited a spy to infiltrate the campaigns of several of Nixon’s Democratic rivals.
He was fired from his job with then-Senator Bob Dole but his reputation for the dark political arts was intact.
Stone reunited with Dole for his 1996 presidential campaign but resigned when The National Enquirer revealed he placed ads on a swingers website seeking sex partners for himself and his second wife Nydia Bertran Stone.
He later referred to himself in an interview with the New Yorker, partly conducted in a swingers club, as ‘a libertarian and a libertine’and a ‘trysexual – I’ve tried everything’.
The couple have more recently apparently found religion, bringing a pastor in robes to the trial with them and being seen at Sunday mass.
The former advisor to President Donald Trump has a tattoo with Nixon’s face on his upper back, which he showed off for a Netflix special
In 1996 The National Enquirer revealed Stone placed ads on a swingers website seeking sex partners for himself and his second wife Nydia Bertran Stone
Stone adopted President Nixon’s iconic V for victory symbol, often posing with it
Stone, pictured at his office in Florida, is a veteran Republican political operative after entering politics in 1972
Stone went on to work for several more presidential campaigns: those of Ronald Reagan, George HW Bush and, eventually, his longtime friend Donald Trump, who had hired Stone to lobby for his casino businesses in the 1990s.
He likewise forged a longtime bond with the disgraced former Trump campaign chairman and now federal prison inmate Paul Manafort after the pair co-founded one of DC earliest ‘mega-lobbying’ firms, Black, Manafort & Stone, in 1980.
Along the way he picked up a reputation for dark arts and darker acts, a penchant for expensive tailoring and a rolodex of clients from the top of the Republican party and further afield – including Donald Trump’s struggling casino business, a connection which was to prove key to his future.
Stone first suggested Trump run for president in early 1998, and even worked out of Trump Tower for a while to help him.
He was hired as an adviser when his old ally finally launched a bid for the White House nearly two decades later.
But he was pushed out in a power struggle which left him on the outside looking in – and phoning Trump with his advice and also apparently bragging of his connections to WikiLeaks.
Outside the campaign he accused Ted Cruz of having had affairs with five women; Cruz shot back that he was a ‘ratf***er’ and claimed he was ‘pulling the strings on Donald Trump.’
But inside Trump Tower, there was a different, and for Stone sadder, picture emerging.
Stone went on to work for several more presidential campaigns including Ronald Reagan, George HW Bush and his longtime friend Donald Trump
Roger Jason Stone Jr grew up in Lewisboro, New York, to a blue-collar Catholic family and where his zeal for politics was apparent from a young age (pictured with Paul Manafort and Lee Atwater)
Senior Campaign figures hinted that the silver-haired Svengali’s influence was waning by the time WikiLeaks threw the 2016 Presidential race into turmoil.
Rick Gates said Stone still had access to senior Trump figures despite having left his position but the relationship had become ‘tense.’
And Steve Bannon admitted in his testimony that he derived enjoyment from ‘heckling’ Stone when his big Julian Assange predictions fell flat.
In the past, a Republican presidency had been a sure-fire payday for Stone but this time round his association with Trump was toxic and expensive.
He found work with InfoWars, an apt home for a man who had pushed conspiracy theories for decades, and a regular place on the speaking circuit.
But the Mueller inquiry brought massive legal bills – and even then expensive legal counsel did not stop him committing a massive blunder in 2017: lying to Congress.
Despite that Stone was predicting right up until January of this year that he would evade Robert Mueller’s prosecutors, sneering in an exclusive DailyMail.com interview: ‘They got nothing.’
Three weeks later he found himself in handcuffs when rifle-wielding FBI agents surrounded his Fort Lauderdale, Florida home in the middle of the night to take him into custody.
In the past, a Republican presidency had been a sure-fire payday for Stone but this time round his association with Trump was toxic and expensive
Stone’s home was raided in the early hours of the morning this year and he was taken into custody
Then, on the steps of the federal courthouse in Broward County, Stone enjoyed perhaps his last hurrah, emerging defiant and unbowed to deliver a scathing diatribe about the Mueller ‘witch-hunt’ while flashing Nixon’s trademark victory signs.
When he followed that up by peddling ‘Roger Stone did nothing wrong’ t-shirts, launching a media tour and posting a mocked-up Instagram image of Judge Amy Berman Jackson in rifle crosshairs, enough was enough.
Berman Jackson responded by slapping Stone with a gag order banning him from speaking about his case in the press or via social media.
When it was their turn to address the trial, defense attorneys chose to play audio of Stone speaking before Congress in 2017 rather than have jurors hear from the man himself.
It was perhaps tacit acceptance that the world had heard quite enough already from Watergate survivor Roger Stone and his vindictive brand of no-holds-barred politics.
The six Trump associates to be convicted in Mueller probe
GUILTY: ROGER STONE
Convicted in November 2019 on seven counts including obstruction of justice, witness tampering, and lying to Congress about his communications with WikiLeaks. Sentenced to 40 months in prison.
Stone was a person of interest to Mueller’s investigators long before his January 2019 indictment, thanks in part due to his public pronouncements as well as internal emails about his contacts with WikiLeks.
In campaign texts and emails, Stone communicated with associates about WikiLeaks following reports the organization had obtained a cache of Clinton-related emails.
According to the federal indictment, Stone gave ‘false and misleading’ testimony about his requests for information from WikiLeaks. He then pressured a witness, comedian Randy Credico, to take the Fifth Amendment rather than testify, and pressured him in a series of emails. Following a prolonged dispute over testimony, he called him a ‘rat’ and threatened to ‘take that dog away from you’, in reference to Credico’s therapy dog, Bianca. Stone warned him: ‘Let’s get it on. Prepare to die.’
GUILTY: MICHAEL FLYNN
Pleaded guilty to making false statements in December 2017. Awaiting sentence
Flynn was President Trump’s former National Security Advisor and Robert Mueller’s most senior scalp to date. He previously served when he was a three star general as President Obama’s director of the Defense Intelligence Agency but was fired.
He admitted to lying to special counsel investigators about his conversations with a Russian ambassador in December 2016. He has agreed to cooperate with the special counsel investigation.
GUILTY AND IN JAIL: MICHAEL COHEN
Pleaded guilty to eight counts including fraud and two campaign finance violations in August 2018. Pleaded guilty to further count of lying to Congress in November 2018. Sentenced to three years in prison and $2 million in fines and forfeitures in December 2018
Cohen was investigated by Mueller but the case was handed off to the Southern District of New York,leaving Manhattan’s ferocious and fiercely independent federal prosecutors to run his case.
Cohen was Trump’s longtime personal attorney, starting working for him and the Trump Organization in 2007. He is the longest-serving member of Trump’s inner circle to be implicated by Mueller. Cohen professed unswerving devotion to Trump – and organized payments to silence two women who alleged they had sex with the-then candidate: porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal. He admitted that payments to both women were felony campaign finance violations – and admitted that he acted at the ‘direction’ of ‘Candidate-1’: Donald Trump.
He also admitted tax fraud by lying about his income from loans he made, money from taxi medallions he owned, and other sources of income, at a cost to the Treasury of $1.3 million.
And he admitted lying to Congress in a rare use of the offense. The judge in his case let him report for prison on March 6 and recommended he serve it in a medium-security facility close to New York City.
GUILTY AND IN JAIL: PAUL MANAFORT
Found guilty of eight charges of bank and tax fraud in August 2018. Sentenced to 47 months in March 2019. Pleaded guilty to two further charges – witness tampering and conspiracy against the United States. Jailed for total of seven and a half years in two separate sentences. Additionally indicted for mortgage fraud by Manhattan District Attorney, using evidence previously presented by Mueller. That indictment was dismissed by the DA is appealing
Manafort worked for Trump’s campaign from March 2016 and chaired it from June to August 2016, overseeing Trump being adopted as Republican candidate at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. He is the most senior campaign official to be implicated by Mueller. Manafort was one of Washington D.C.’s longest-term and most influential lobbyists but in 2015, his money dried up and the next year he turned to Trump for help, offering to be his campaign chairman for free – in the hope of making more money afterwards. But Mueller unwound his previous finances and discovered years of tax and bank fraud as he coined in cash from pro-Russia political parties and oligarchs in Ukraine.
Manafort pleaded not guilty to 18 charges of tax and bank fraud but was convicted of eight counts in August 2018. The jury was deadlocked on the other 10 charges. A second trial on charges of failing to register as a foreign agent due in September did not happen when he pleaded guilty to conspiracy against the United States and witness tampering in a plea bargain. He was supposed to co-operate with Mueller but failed to.
Minutes after his second sentencing hearing in March 2019, he was indicted on 16 counts of fraud and conspiracy by the Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., using evidence which included documents previously presented at his first federal trial. The president has no pardon power over charges by district and state attorneys.
GUILTY: RICK GATES
Pleaded guilty to conspiracy against the United States and making false statements in February 2018. Awaiting sentence
Gates, a Trump campaign official, was Manafort’s former deputy at political consulting firm DMP International. He admitted to conspiring to defraud the U.S. government on financial activity, and to lying to investigators about a meeting Manafort had with a member of congress in 2013. As a result of his guilty plea and promise of cooperation, prosecutors vacated charges against Gates on bank fraud, bank fraud conspiracy, failure to disclose foreign bank accounts, filing false tax returns, helping prepare false tax filings, and falsely amending tax returns.
GUILTY AND JAILED: GEORGE PAPADOPOLOUS
Pleaded guilty to making false statements in October 2017. Sentenced to 14 days in September 2018, and reported to prison in November. Served 12 days and released on December 7, 2018
Papadopoulos was a member of Donald Trump’s campaign foreign policy advisory committee. He admitted to lying to special counsel investigators about his contacts with London professor Josef Mifsud and Ivan Timofeev, the director of a Russian government-funded think tank.
He agreed to cooperate with the special counsel investigation but is now highly critical of it.