NEW YORK – Contrary to a Washington Post report, campaign manager Corey Lewandowski is not leading Trump’s search for a running mate, according to campaign insiders.
The Post cited two unnamed Republicans on Tuesday who claimed Lewandowski is in charge of the vetting team, but Trump insider Roger Stone told the Chicago Tribune that Lewandowski is “overselling” his role in the VP search.
“He’s crowing about the responsibility of a clerk,” Stone told the paper. “This kind of self-aggrandizement doesn’t serve the candidate well.”
Lewandowski declined to comment to the Tribune.
Trump is the only one in charge, Stone insisted, noting the candidate will “interview everyone who’s a serious contender.”
“That’s why the choice will be outside the box. I think it’ll be daring.”
Trump himself, in an Associated Press interview Wednesday, downplayed the assertion that Lewandowski was playing the lead role in the search, saying it’s being carried out by “a group” that includes him and former GOP presidential rival Ben Carson.
“Honestly, we’re all running it,” he said. “It’s very much a group effort.”
WND received no response to an email inquiry to Lewandowski and Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks, asking for clarification of Lewandowski’s role in the VP search and in talks with the Republican National Committee regarding the convention.
Lewandowski ‘humbled to be on the team’
On Monday, Robert Costa reported in the Washington Post that Lewandowski will “oversee” the vice-presidential search.
“Lewandowski, Trump’s traveling confident and campaign manager, will be in charge of the team that will survey and vet potential vice-presidential candidates for the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, two top Republicans said,” Costa wrote, siting two anonymous sources supposedly familiar with Lewandowski’s responsibilities.
“Lewandowski formally took charge of the hunt for a running mate last week and has been described inside and outside the campaign as the point person for all related questions and meetings, the Republicans said,” Costa continued.
On Tuesday, Ben Kamisar in the Hill echoed the Post’s reporting, saying Lewandowski “will helm” Trump’s search for a running mate.
In a Tuesday evening appearance on Sean Hannity’s Fox News television show, Hannity introduced Lewandowski as Trump’s pick to lead the search for vice president.
But in the interview, Lewandowki appeared to back off from Hannity’s description, insisting only that he was “humbled to be on the team” conducting the search for Trump.
Lewandowski heading Trump’s RNC talks?
On April 22, Bloomberg reported a “secret meeting” took place between Trump adviser Paul Manafort and RNC head Reince Priebus at the RNC spring meeting in Florida. Bloomberg suggested that Trump planned to work with the RNC, despite campaign rhetoric charging the GOP primary and convention rules were “rigged” against Trump.
There was no mention in the Bloomberg report that Lewandowski attended the RNC meeting between Manafort and Priebus.
On Sunday, Politico reported “senior Trump aides,” including Lewandowski, Manafort and political director Rick Wiley were meeting with top RNC officials to work out details of a final fundraising agreement.
While the Politico article listed Lewandowski first, there was no suggestion in the report that Lewandowski was leading the discussions.
The Politico article published Sunday further reported the conversations “are also partly an effort to lay the groundwork for a Thursday meeting in Washington including Trump, Priebus and House Speaker Paul Ryan, who announced last Thursday that he is withholding his endorsement until Trump outlines a stronger commitment to conservative principles.”
On Monday, CBS reported that Lewandowski attended the RNC meeting along with Manafort and Wiley, adding that newly appointed deputy campaign manager Michael Glassner also attended.
Glassner’s political credits include senior adviser to Sen. Bob Dole from January 1986 though January 2001, working on George W. Bush’s 2000 campaign and acting as top adviser to vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin in 2008.
Lewandowski vs. Manafort: Who’s in charge?
Last week, WND reported Trump insiders accused Lewandowski of micromanaging the appointment of Steven Mnuchin, a Wall Street veteran who worked for 17 years with Goldman Sachs, as campaign finance chairman. The insiders said the process was designed to keep Mnuchin’s candidacy from Manafort, who was actively pursuing other candidates, believing he had been appointed by Trump to nominate the campaign’s finance chairman.
Manafort is a GOP presidential campaign veteran who began managing Ronald Reagan’s convention delegate operation in 1976.
The opponents of Lewandowski within Trump’s campaign charge the campaign manager is isolating Trump, much as John Erlichman and H. R. Haldeman isolated President Richard Nixon to his detriment during the Watergate scandal.
The internal struggle appears to have begun almost from the first moments Manafort was hired by Trump to manage his delegate operation. The hire came in April after it became apparent that Trump might not gain the 1,237 delegates necessary to win the nomination on the first ballot at the convention.
CNN reported April 7 that the loss of the Wisconsin primary and the delegate gains made by Sen. Ted Cruz led to a campaign shake-up in which Manafort would be playing an expanded role beyond managing Trump’s delegate operation, with Lewandowski playing “a shrinking role” as campaign manager.
CBS correspondent Major Garrett reported that after Manafort was hired, Lewandowski was “reduced to a role that amounts to body man and scheduler.”
Politico reported in April that Trump, bristling at efforts by Manafort to make him appear more “presidential,” was taking steps “to return some authority to Manafort’s chief internal rival,” Lewandowski.
Lewandowski was at the center of controversy in March when then-Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields pressed misdemeanor battery charges alleging he grabbed her arm during a Trump press conference in Jupiter, Florida, on March 8. Last month, Palm Beach County State Attorney David Aronberg decided not to prosecute Lewandowski, explaining he didn’t have enough to bring the case.
His political credits include working as an administrative assistant to Rep. Robert Ney, R-Ohio, before the congressman was convicted of corruption charges in the Jack Abramoff scandal and working as campaign manager and communications director for Sen. Bob Smith, R-N.H., in his unsuccessful 2002 re-election bid.
by ROGER STONE
As Donald Trump prepares for an epic battle with “First Enabler” Hillary Clinton, the media is too focused on party unity and are oblivious to the fact that denunciation of Trump by failed elites like the Bush’s as well as the prevarications of Paul Ryan only fuel his rise, as did the opposition of Mexico’s ex-president, the Chinese Communists, the Pope, David Cameron, the Saudis, and Mitt Romney. The political class is discredited with voters hungry for change.
What they are missing are the millions of new voters and donors Trump has brought to the party, with the GOP contest drawing two million more voters than the rather boring Hillary v. Bernie bout. It is important to note that in 2012, a change in just 700,000 votes in five states would have changed the outcome of the election.
Analytics show there are 1 million unregistered Trump supporters. In Colorado, Iowa, Florida, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, Ohio, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, Trump will have the resources to sign them up. This is where elections are won.
All successful Republican presidents — Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Nixon, and Reagan — remade the party in their image. Trump is snatching the party back from Wall Street and the special interests. His is street populism, far right on some issues but far left on others. Not a pure conservative by any means, he is the best choice for conservatives on the big four issues – the economy, terrorism, trade, and immigration. Those who worry about his views on eminent domain must realize that there will be no private property rights if we are incinerated by Islamic radicals.
I met Trump and we became friends when he supported Ronald Reagan. I recognized that Donald, as he told me to call him in 1979, had the charisma, courage, and toughness to be a strong contender and a transformative president as early as 1988 when we went to the Portsmouth, NH Chamber of Commerce for a speech in his big black helicopter. Donald staked out tough policies on trade, China, and NATO even then.
I was the Chairman of his Exploratory Committee when he looked at the Reform party nomination in 2000 when we were both unimpressed with Bush and Gore. I wanted him to run in 2012 because I knew Mitt Romney was a choker. 2016 is, however, his time. His rise is a repudiation of the polices of Bush-Clinton-Bush-Obama that have infected both parties for 30 years. Their fiscal, trade, immigration, and foreign policies have been in decline.
The rise of Trump is historic and the situation unprecedented. Little did I know that Trump would change the game and make us rethink everything we know about politics. Trump mounted the summit without aid of polling, focus groups, a policy shop, analytics, targeting, or speech writers, yet he attracted over 10 million votes, more than any GOP contender in history.
Trump is an unabashed nationalist who wants America to be richer, more successful, and, well, smarter. The rise of Trump is a repudiation of the two party duopoly that has driven our country into a ditch. More than ever, voters know the essentially unchanged policies of Bush-Clinton-Bush-Obama have failed. Trump is no neocon, and unlike Hillary wasn’t a cheerleader for the Iraq war. Voter anger with our decline and the destruction of jobs and economic opportunity while pursuing an expensive interventionist but incoherent foreign policy has fueled Trump’s rise.
The party need to recognize the millions of new people Trump has brought to the Republican process, far more than anemic turnout in the lingering Democratic contest. This will more than offset those bailing out on Trump like the departing Bush’s — 41, 43, and Jeb — who feel Trump rustled the horse that was theirs. In fact, rejection by the Bush’s gains Trump votes. George W. Bush and his cronies made millions on their policies while we squandered blood and treasure abroad and bailed out Wall Street swindlers while the economy crashed.
To win, Trump will have to deconstruct Hillary in his own inimitable way, without regard to political correctness. Threatening Bill’s alleged sexual assault victims and ex-girlfriends, the Iraq War, the nexus of corruption between the Clinton State Department and the Clinton Foundation, in which the latter became the vehicle for the facilitation of multi- million dollar bribes are all key vulnerabilities. In fact, the Clintons’ voracious greed for money and their willingness to do anything for it and their hypocrisy will be their downfall.
Trump is a fearless brawler who will go Hillary Clinton anywhere. Refusing to answer him sounds like a strategy that did not work out too well for Mike Dukakis.
By Roger Stone
Speaker Paul Ryan said he was not ready to support presumptive nominee Donald J. Trump. Presumably, he is going to see if he can beat Donald Trump at the “Art of the Deal.”
But, Ryan, whose views on both trade and immigration are antithetical to Trump’s, is running a bluff with the king of the deal. In fact the Speaker has extortion on his mind.
Ryan is posturing to get Donald to agree to key terms relating to the congressional committees, congressional candidates and more importantly the RNC. Ryan will endorse Donald, but Donald has to agree that his campaign team will not be influencing these committees and will give the RNC, under Reince, autonomy (obviously this means control of the money and spending). The committees and the RNC will coordinate with his campaign, but they won’t be taking their orders from Trump campaign, they will all just work together.
Because Republican National Chairman Reince Priebus was also Chairman in 2012 during Mitt Romney’s horrific campaign and later helped Governor Scott Walker, he is actually a Ryan man by political lineage. Together they salivated over the millions that the Republican National Committee would spend with favored vendors in their circle … until Donald Trump came along. They know even the doomed Barry Goldwater took control of the National Committee. They are seeking to keep control.
Ryan will argue Trump is taking positions that are very different from Republican traditional approaches, and he has to agree and understand RNC and congressional candidates may disagree with him on key issues, and in some swing districts some candidates may actually have to oppose him, and he will understand that and not criticize them (there may be some discussion that the convention platform and the party platform will be different than some of Trump’s own positions).
Reince stuck Romney with a $9 million debt pay-off before he agreed to give Romney his share of party cash in 2012. He has a $1 million debt in a bank loan. Reince uses some legal book-keeping tricks to make RNC fundraising more successful than it is like combining compliance and recount monies in generally available funds even though they aren’t. Reince wants to keep control rather than have a baby-sitter from the Trump camp.
Even worse Ryan and Reince want the party to use the Data Vault owned in part by Karl Rove for targeting and analytics. Many say the data is dirty and may be Orca 2.0, the update of the system that crashed on Election Day 2012 on Mitt Romney after spending millions on it. The RNC’s own data bank is suspect according to professionals who have been forced to use it.
Reince and Ryan are outmatched to say the least. Trump won’t be blackmailed. He goes into the meeting Thursday with veteran GOP operative Rick Wiley knowing the inside out of the party’s financial output. Trump is the toughest guy I’ve ever met, and I’ve known some killers. His movement is bigger than the Republican Party and he knows it. Media focus on lack of party unity while Trump has proven appeal the millions of new voters is journalistic malpractice. Trump will push Ryan out of the chairmanship of the convention. He will always go his way.
There is also a Trump national fast track strategy underway to empower state party leaders with the levers to shunt aside the grassroots Trump people who supported Trump and run the Trump campaign in the states.
Karl Rove has control and loyalty of many of these officials. This would be a grave error for Trump.
By Roger Stone
I hope we have not converted our pro-Trump Stop The Steal Rally to a Unity and Victory Rally in Cleveland July 18th too soon. A motion to unbind all delegates, along with many other underhanded strategies, is being discussed by the elite of the Republican legal establishment, with the permission (if under not the instruction) of Speaker Paul Ryan. Bitter operatives of Ted Cruz even mailed voters before Virginia County conventions in an attempt to grab delegates.
The extremely capable Paul Manafort beat back that charge for Trump. A someone who saw both Nixon, Reagan up close while in their service I have never seen anything like the whirlwind of Donald J. Trump. He is bigger than the Republican Party. After a wildly successful, if unconventional, primary campaign that closed off any other candidates’ path to 1247 delegates before the convention, Donald Trump is finally being called the presumptive nominee by some, but not the GOP insiders. The battle for his nomination is far from over. The establishment is still plotting to silence the voice of the majority of Republican primary voters. To many journalists, the inner workings of party rules are “inside baseball” of no interest to the common voter. But the GOP insider scheme to unbind delegates and disenfranchise voters should concern every American.
Last week, the annual conference of the Republican National Lawyers Association was held, with some 250 attorneys in attendance. The main topic of discussion: how to steal the GOP nomination front presumptive nominee Donald Trump at the Republican National Convention. The RNLA is technically a separate entity from the RNC, though it is essentially made of elite establishment types who are attorneys representing special interests . At their recent meeting, the phrase “Never Trump” was bandied about in hushed tones quite a lot particularly after Trump lawyer Don McGahn left after a perfunctory short remarks. The doors were closed and locked after McGahn left.
Before that Washington insider Fred Barnes was the keynote speaker, and said that while he is not a “Never Trumper,” he knew that many in the room were. He said that Trump must make many changes to his policies if he hopes to unite the party. Barnes was over heard chortling that Trump was a “buffoon” at the cocktail party.
A smaller group huddled to discuss the Rules Committee of the RNC: Larry Levy, RNLA Chairman and a partner of Rudy Guiliani; Randy Evans, RNLA Chairman and national committeeman from GA; John Ryder, General Counsel of the Republican National Committee and Jim Bopp of Citizens United fame and a national committeeman from IN and former RNC Vice-Chairman. I know these guys. Bopp is a patriot but the others are insiders. They blurted out their plan of attack.
Evans alluded to something Congressman Trey Gowdy said the previous morning at the conference, about the importance Republicans place on “process.” It is true, of course, that Republicans care a great deal about the rule of law, Constitutional due process and so on. But what Evans meant is something completely different- and sinister. He said “process” is extremely important to Republicans, lawyers and thus all of us. Evans said that “process IS important,” and urged the crowd of GOP lawyers that “there is NO SUCH THING as a presumptive nominee.” Evans bluntly made the point that Trump has not won the nomination, Evans went on to say that there are many delegates in the “Never Trump” crowd and that many convention delegates will be so-minded. He also said that Speaker Paul Ryan is in this camp and that Ryan is always on the Rules Committee, and will be the Chair of the Convention in Cleveland. Evans reminded the attorneys present that the convention is governed not by Robert’s Rules of Order, but by the Rules of the House and asked rhetorically whether Trump could have someone at the convention who knows House rules as well as speaker Ryan.
Evans went on to “guarantee” there would be challenges to Trump’s delegates who were from states whose delegates were not exclusively chosen by Republicans. Evans said that the challenges would be brought before the Credentials Committee, and that their ruling would come to the floor as the very first order of business. He then pointed out that Trump needs 1237 votes to win any vote, not merely a majority of those present and voting. He rhetorically asked the audience what would happen if 100, or 200, or more, delegates and their alternates could be persuaded to stay at their hotel that morning.
I predicted all this on Infowars.com months ago. The lobbyist class fueled by the donor class with their multi-national interests fear Trump’s nationalism. They will never try to stop him. The Trump juggernaut must be ready for this assault.
Evans even speculated as to what would happen if a motion were brought in the Rules Committee to make it such that only a person from Texas could be nominated on the floor. He wasn’t suggesting this, he made clear, he said he was merely illustrating that there are many, many ways “Never Trump” forces could stop Trump. Another panelist said that Lindsey Graham would be at the convention, and that he is still looking for a role to play.
The other speakers echoed this theme, although Jim Bopp warned that if Evans’ predictions are true, it could mean the “end of the Republican party.” Few other than Bopp seemed to care. Bopp said that he and Evans had “written” Rule 40B, and that his explicit purpose had been to help Romney avoid a floor fight in 2012. He expects that a motion will be brought in the Rules Committee to amend it predicted that a motion would be brought to unbind all delegates on the first ballot. Bopp did say the party would be destroyed if the maneuver. Nobody gave a shit!
The elites who now run the party that ended slavery are desperate and unhinged, willing to engage in any underhanded legal sophistry and shenanigans to subvert the will of their base voters. Every Republican needs to know about their plans and send support in some form or another to Cleveland to Stop the Steal.
Donald Trump campaign confidante Roger Stone warns that Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and RNC chairman Reince Priebus are planning to “extort” Trump at the RNC after Ryan refused to endorse the presumptive Republican nominee.
During an interview with NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday, Trump said that he would not rule out an attempt to remove Ryan from his role at the convention, vowing consequences if the former Wisconsin Congressman continued to withhold his support.
“I will give you a very solid answer, if that happens, about one minute after that happens, O.K.?” Mr. Trump said. “There’s no reason to give it right now, but I’ll be very quick with the answer.”
After initially indicating that he was opposed to a Trump candidacy on several occasions, Reince Priebus appeared conciliatory after Trump’s success in Indiana, tweeting that it was time to “unite” the GOP behind an effort to defeat Hillary Clinton.
However, according to Trump confidante Roger Stone, Ryan and Priebus are working on a plan to “extort Trump” at the RNC.
Stone says the two are scheming to “thwart Trump control of the Republican National Committee,” and has vowed to “expose their outrageous plan.”
During an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper last week, Ryan said he was “not ready” to back Trump. Ryan and Trump are set to meet privately in Washington DC on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Sarah Palin, who is one of the contenders to become Trump’s running mate, has promised to defeat Ryan by backing his primary opponent in Wisconsin.
Stone will elaborate on his warning during an appearance on the Alex Jones Show later today.
A Donald Trump ‘Super PAC’ Is Hit With Leadership Woes
A veteran Tea Party activist who helped kick off a “super PAC” supporting Donald J. Trump resigned shortly after the candidate became the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, a fresh blow to a group whose other senior strategist was convicted on Thursday of trying to hide payments made to an Iowa politician in an effort to effectively buy his endorsement.
The resignation of Amy Kremer, the former Tea Party activist, came as the group, Great America PAC, has tried to ramp up for the general election in the hopes of receiving an overt blessing from Mr. Trump’s campaign. The group announced that the veteran Republican consultant Ed Rollins would become its new strategist this week, and, in a conference call, used Ben Carson, the former Republican presidential candidate, as a signal to prospective donors that they should participate in the group’s activities.
But Ms. Kremer, who along with the businessman William Doddridge was an early leader of the group — originally called TrumPAC — quit because numerous decisions were made without her involvement. And the future of the group’s structure was not yet clear after Jesse Benton, a former adviser to Representative Ron Paul and his son, Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, was brought on board as a senior adviser. Mr. Benton was convicted on Thursday in Iowa on federal charges of public corruption related to efforts to woo a state senator to endorse the senior Mr. Paul for president in 2012.
In a statement, Ms. Kremer confirmed that she had left. “As of May 4, I’m no longer at Great America PAC,” she said. “I’m working on an amazing new project that I will announce soon.”
In her resignation email to Eric Beach, who oversees the finance operation, Ms. Kremer wrote, “This isn’t working out as we agreed when you asked me to join you, so I’m resigning effective immediately. I hate for it to end this way, but I cannot allow my name to continued to be used when there is too much going on without my knowledge.”
In a statement, Mr. Beach said, “We think the world of Amy Kremer and she remains a good friend. We are sorry to see her move on, but we know she will continue to do tremendous work supporting limited government principles.” He declined to address Ms. Kremer’s complaint about activities taking place without her knowledge.
A person involved in the super PAC and briefed on Ms. Kremer’s issues said that she was never apprised when Mr. Benton was brought on board. Decisions were made by Mr. Beach, Mr. Benton and the group’s attorney, Dan Backer, without her knowledge, she said. Her name went out on email solicitations that she was never shown, the person said, including last week when Mr. Trump became the party’s presumptive nominee. And Mr. Benton produced a video aimed at softening Mr. Trump’s image without seeking her input, the person said.
The group has drawn scrutiny for its unusual ad-buying efforts, purchasing television time through DirectTV and the Dish network, instead of by using traditional methods. Some of their ads urged viewers to call a telephone number to vote on who should be Mr. Trump’s vice presidential running mate, a technique that is often used to harvest names for future small-dollar fund-raising solicitations.
While their Federal Election Commission filings show spending of more than $1 million on ads, groups like C.M.A.G., which track media spending, and independent media buyers have only been able to detect a few hundred thousand dollars worth of ads that have run.
Recent federal election filings indicate the group is $1 million in debt. The group was asked by the Trump campaign to change its name because it used the candidate’s name, and in recent weeks it received another letter from the campaign disavowing its efforts. But it has continued to try to raise money.
In the conference call on Wednesday with potential donors, Mr. Rollins, who has been a television commentator and a senior adviser to the Clinton-aligned firm Teneo, said the group would move away from ad spending and try to fill in gaps in the campaign’s infrastructure.
BY JEFFREY TOOBIN
Roger Stone, the political provocateur, visited the bar at the Four Seasons Hotel on primary day last week to reminisce about his long friendship with Donald Trump. It started in 1979, when Stone was a twenty-six-year-old aide in Ronald Reagan’s Presidential campaign. Michael Deaver, a more senior campaign official, instructed Stone to start fund-raising in New York. “Mike gave me a recipe box full of index cards, supposedly Reagan’s contacts in New York,” Stone said. “Half the people on the cards were dead. A lot of the others were show-business people, but there was one name I recognized—Roy Cohn.” So Stone presented himself at the brownstone office of Cohn, the notorious lawyer and fixer.
“I go into Roy’s office,” Stone continued, “and he’s sitting there in his silk bathrobe, and he’s finishing up a meeting with Fat Tony Salerno,” the boss of the Genovese crime family. Stone went on, “So Tony says, ‘Roy here says we’re going with Ree-gun this time.’ That’s how he said it—‘Ree-gun.’ Roy told him yes, we’re with Reagan. Then I said to Roy that we needed to put together a finance committee, and Roy said, ‘You need Donald and Fred Trump.’ He said Fred, Donald’s father, had been big for Goldwater in ’64. I went to see Donald, and he helped to get us office space for the Reagan campaign, and that’s when we became friends.”
Stone is now sixty-two, and he’s allowed his hair, which used to be a kind of yellow, to evolve into a shade more suitable for an éminence grise than for an enfant terrible. He has played roles in many of his generation’s political dirty-tricks scandals. He was just nineteen when he had a bit part in Watergate; he sent campaign contributions in the name of the Young Socialist Alliance to the campaign of Pete McCloskey, who was running against Richard Nixon for the Republican nomination in 1972. Almost three decades later, he helped choreograph the so-called Brooks Brothers riot, which shut down the Bush v. Gore recount in Miami-Dade County.
Over the years, too, Stone shepherded Trump’s political ambitions through several near-runs for the Presidency. “In 1988, I arranged for him to speak to the Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Chamber of Commerce—that was his first political trip,” Stone said. “There was lots of speculative publicity. He liked the attention. He liked the buzz. He’s the greatest promoter of all time.” In 2000, Trump came closer to a real bid. Because Ross Perot had run in the previous two elections as the candidate of the Reform Party, there was a chance that Trump could have received federal funding on that party line. “He was looking at the prospect of running on O.P.M.—other people’s money,” Stone said. “He loved that.” But Trump backed away.
Now that Trump is actually running for President, Stone has been largely sidelined. (He currently has no official campaign role.) Stone says that he speaks to the candidate “now and then.” In any event, he said, Trump has little use for political advisers. “He listens to no one,” Stone noted. “On his own, he conceptualized a campaign model that rejects all the things you do in politics—no polling, no opposition research, no issue shop, no analytics, no targeting, no paid advertising to speak of.” He went on, “He had this vision of an all-communication-based strategy of rallies, debates, and as many interviews as he can smash into a day. The campaign exists to support the logistics of the tour.” Stone does maintain a small super PAC that he said will help corral delegates for Trump. “How many of the delegates will want to play golf at a Trump resort?” Stone said. “How many will want to have dinner at Mar-a-Lago? How many will want to go to a cocktail party at his apartment in Trump Tower, with its extraordinary view of Manhattan?” (Trump said he has no plans to court delegates in this way.)
There’s a wistfulness about Stone these days. He judges politics on aesthetic grounds as much as on issues. “On ‘The Apprentice,’ Trump was always perfectly dressed, perfectly lit, perfectly made up,” he said. “That helped him enormously in establishing a Presidential brand.” The same goes for Stone himself, who was wearing a double-breasted nailhead suit made for him by a Mr. Cheo. “He trained on Savile Row with Anderson & Sheppard, who are the best suitmakers in the world,” Stone said. He handles fewer campaigns than he used to, and channels his aggression more into his books than toward political opponents. His latest volume in that vein is called “The Clintons’ War on Women.” Stone instructed a waiter to bring him a “Ketel One Martini up, with a couple of olives, very dry.” (His favorite Martini recipe came from Richard Nixon, who got it from Winston Churchill.) But Stone sent the drink back, saying, “I’ve lost my taste for it.”
By Melissa Parker
Political consultant, lobbyist and strategist Roger Stone has played a key role in the election of Republican presidents from Richard Nixon to Ronald Reagan to George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. He also served as an assistant to Sen. Bob Dole.
Stone served as an advisor to the 2016 presidential campaign of Republican candidate Donald Trump. He left the campaign on August 8, 2015, but remains a Trump confidante. Stone has authored The Man Who Killed Kennedy, Nixon’s Secrets: The Rise, Fall and Untold Truth about the President, Watergate, and the Pardon, The Clintons’ War on Women and Jeb! and the Bush Crime Family.
“I still don’t think the establishment will ever throw in the towel. Ted Cruz is like a cornered man. I give him credit in the sense that he had to do something to try to shake up the race. He had to do something to try and create some excitement and maybe pry open the door, but right now, I don’t think he’s an adequate challenger. I don’t see what Carly brings you other than another set of campaign hands. She will campaign for him. She’s an effective speaker.”
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Roger, I believe you’re in the news just as much as Donald Trump these days!
Roger Stone: Well, sometimes when I want to be, and sometimes when I don’t want to be.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Why were the Clintons and the Bushes subjects of your most recent books (The Clinton’s War on Women and Jeb! and the Bush Crime Family)?
Roger Stone: Both families are establishment elites who had profited mightily from public service. Now, it would be one thing if they and their cronies were getting rich, and they were delivering governmental policies that made us safe and prosperous. That wasn’t happening. They ran the country into the ditch economically, in terms of trade, in terms of immigration, in terms of our fiscal situation, particularly our debt. Seventy-one percent of the national debt is caused by either Bush, Sr. or Bush, Jr. That’s an astounding number.
The Bushes spent like Democrats. That’s because there really is, sadly, only one party. It’s the Wall Street party, the party of special interests and big money, the globalist party. The party of Barry Goldwater, the party of the man that attracted me to the Republican Party, the party of small government, personal liberty, civil liberties, low taxation and strong national defense, is dead. That party’s dead. Whether it can be revived remains to be seen.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Out of curiosity, have you heard from the Clintons or the Bushes after these books were released? In The Clintons’ War on Women, especially, you describe a pretty horrifying story of rape and intimidation all in the name of power and greed.
Roger Stone: Not directly. I have heard through reporters that Bill and Hillary are obsessed with me and this book, and that’s because it’s the truth. Every bit of it is carefully sourced and documented. Hillary’s not the person she appears to be in public. She is shrill, nasty, foul-mouthed, abrasive, abusive, driven and greedy. It is a fact, which we proved, that during the Clinton White House years, there was actually a staff memo put out saying, “If you encounter the First Lady in the halls, do not look her directly in the eye. Just look down and pass her. Do not engage her.” That’s how hyper-important she thinks she is.
Her financial dealings are extraordinary. She and her husband have enriched themselves in dozens of shady enterprises. The Clinton Foundation is a slush fund for grifters. It’s not really a charitable organization. It augments a lavish lifestyle for Bill, Hillary and Chelsea. Fifty-three percent of their funds were spent on luxury travel for the Clintons and the rest went to overhead. They have an army, a phalanx, of flunkies on the payroll. None of them have charitable experience. They’re all political hacks. It’s just another part of the Clinton machine, and I frankly think this is her greatest area of vulnerability.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Didn’t you say that you also had taped audio interviews of Bill Clinton’s alleged victims and that you were going to release them during this presidential race?
Roger Stone: I don’t recall that being in the book. I do not recall that, although they would certainly be attainable because many of these women, I think, are going to speak out very courageously. We’ll see what Kathleen Willey, Juanita Broaddrick, Paula Jones, Sandra Allen James, or perhaps Christy Zercher or Becky Brown or Helen Dowdy have to say. This list goes on and on, and it’s extensive.
I want to be clear that in my book, I’m not focusing on Bill Clinton’s consensual sexual relationships, although some find that distasteful. This is not about girlfriends or mistresses or marital infidelity or adultery. That’s what the mainstream media would like the controversy to be about.
It is amazing to me when Steve Malzberg or Kurt Schlichter, two conservative commentators, are on CNN, and they attempt to discuss Hillary’s representation of a rapist and her laughing on tape about getting him off when she knew he was guilty, they actually pull the plug on their microphones. It’s not that she represented a sleazy client. That’s what lawyers do. But she laughed about getting him off. She destroyed this woman on the bench. She deconstructed her. When they attempt to talk about that on CNN, Don Lemon cuts them off. So much for free speech.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Katie Johnson has filed $100 million lawsuit against Donald Trump for raping her and making her a sex slave in 1994, beginning when she was 13. Court documents state that Trump forced her to “engage in various perverted and depraved acts by threatening physical harm to Johnson and her family.” Jeffrey Epstein, a convicted sex offender, is also named in the lawsuit, which was filed April 26, 2016.
Roger Stone: This is completely bogus. The claim here is that Donald Trump … I almost hate to repeat this because it’s so vile. But the claim is that Donald Trump attended a sex party with the convicted pedophile, Jeffrey Epstein, met an underage girl, and she became his sex slave. The woman who has filed this lawsuit is self-represented, first of all, so she has no lawyer to contact.
However, it’s clear that the complaint was filed by an experienced attorney. The phone number she lists as her contact in the documents is fake. There is no record of her in any of the Epstein prosecution records or any of the testimony taken in years of civil litigation.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Virginia Roberts said she had been employed by this same convicted sex offender, Jeffrey Epstein, for three years beginning at age 17 as a sex slave, and that he trafficked her to his friends.
Roger Stone: Virginia Roberts, the lead litigant in the case against Epstein, has never heard of Katie Johnson and doesn’t think she exists. Johnson claims to be from Twentynine Palms, California, which is, in all honesty, a hooker haven. It’s a broken down town that services a nearby marine and army base. A lot of prostitutes are there. So I think the whole thing is a fraud.
It’s a vicious smear on Donald Trump. The lawyer for Roberts, who is suing Epstein, says that he investigated this on behalf of his client, and he found no involvement by Donald Trump. In my own book, I talk about the one-time Trump went to Epstein’s home for a social occasion. As he pulled up, he noticed that the swimming pool was full of young girls, and he said to his driver, “How does Jeff let the neighborhood children use his pool?”
Once Trump got inside, he left after 15 minutes, and it was said by several of the women that in no way was he seen doing anything inappropriate. That’s the intersection of Trump and Jeffrey Epstein. Epstein was a member of Trump’s club. They were not social friends. Epstein paid $250,000 to belong to Trump’s club, and he was exposed partying with the New York social elite. There was no reason to believe there was anything odd afoot unless you were invited, as Bill Clinton was, and participated in one of his private parties.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Jeb Bush has just come out in his first interview after dropping out of the race in February, saying there was a chance Trump won’t get 50% on the first ballot, and that he was “hopeful” a contested convention would block Trump from winning the GOP nomination. He thinks that the Republican Party should support Ted Cruz and that Carly Fiorina was a good choice for Cruz’s running mate.
Roger Stone: Although Jeb has given no interviews since he dropped, he and his family have been furiously working behind the scenes to block Trump. Jeb has $30,000,000 left over in his Wall Street-funded Super PAC after dropping $100,000,000 roughly, having no impact whatsoever. He’s trying to find out how to legally get that over to one of the anti-Trump groups for California advertising.
Barbara Bush herself is on the phone, probably after a few cocktails, calling party leaders that she knows from the old days and cackling that Trump must be stopped. She is the one who instructed Neil (Bush) to endorse Ted Cruz. Now, they don’t like Ted personally, but Ted is a Bush retainer. Ted was George W. Bush’s issues man the entire time he ran for president. In other words, he was W’s brain. For about the first half year of his presidency, Cruz sought to be appointed as solicitor. When he was passed over for that job, he got a cushy job at the Trade Commission.
Ted’s wife, Heidi, was Condoleezza Rice’s top deputy, and then she was the deputy to Robert Zoellick, the head of the World Bank, then at this time U.S. Trade Representative, the architect of TPP and TPA. So the Cruzes are insiders. The Bushes don’t like them because they’re prickly, and Ted is a mean SOB. They just don’t like him personally, but that doesn’t mean that they disagree on Ted’s globalist goals.
Ted’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing. He poses as a Barry Goldwater/Ronald Reagan conservative, but he’s a neocon bought by Wall Street and the Oil & Gas industries’ interests. Where Carly Fiorina is concerned, this case has already been tried. She ran for the United States Senate. In that campaign, the Democrats very effectively pointed out her record of outsourcing and of layoffs while she herself was getting a rich, golden parachute.
There was other substantial evidence that Carly was knowingly cheating the Iran sanctions so that Hewlett Packard could do business in Iran. She was John McCain’s chief domestic issues policy advisor. She’s another failed candidate. She’s actually a drag on Cruz in California because they know her well. The Democrats excoriated her with an avalanche of very hard hitting ads deconstructing her record. Carly Fiorina is Mitt Romney in high heels.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): A few days ago, Rush Limbaugh warned of “a nuclear explosion” if Donald Trump is denied the nomination. Rush also said, “Trump’s stooge, Roger Stone, publicly declared that he would be distributing the names and hotel room numbers of delegates that didn’t fall in line behind Trump.”
Roger Stone: I’m disappointed in Rush because he has rushed to judgment based on a partial quotation by CNN. I gave an hour-long interview and made it clear that I’m opposed to violence, and what I’m seeking is a very specific dialogue with delegates. What I propose is, if you’re from Pennsylvania, you go to the Pennsylvania delegates’ hotel and find your delegates. You can call them from the desk. You can leave a note in their box. But ask them to sign a voluntary pledge to stick with Donald Trump on every ballot.
The reason I’ve done this is because the Republican establishment machines are packing these Trump delegate seats with non-Trump supporters, people ready to vote on the second ballot, if there is one, but more importantly, people who will vote against Trump’s interest in a rules or credentials play and steal the nomination. That is what the establishment has in mind.
I think they’ve figured out that Trump can’t be beaten, so they’re calling for a brokered convention, a contested convention. My fear is, because of the Trojan horse delegates, that there may be an absolute majority for Trump for president, but there may be a majority for the anti-Trump forces in these showdown votes, which come before the presidential ballot.
I have specifically renounced violence. The march and rally we’re having on July 18, the “stop-the-steal our votes matter” march is a peaceful, nonviolent march. We have applied for a permit from the city. We’re optimistic that it will be granted shortly. We have worked out a march route with the police. They have suggested a location for the rally that they believe would be safest.
I actually think the greatest problem in Cleveland is that those who go there provoke violence and then blame it on Trump. The MoveOn crowd, the Black Lives Matter crowd, this entire machine financed by Soros, directed by the psychopath David Brock, is going to incite violence. That way they can pin that violence on Donald Trump and his followers. So as far as violence in Cleveland is concerned, I would urge everybody to ignore the provocations. These people are going to be working overtime to incite violence. The way to defeat them is to ignore them.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Is the GOP establishment warming up toward Donald Trump?
Roger Stone: I still don’t think the establishment will ever throw in the towel. Ted Cruz is like a cornered man. I give him credit in the sense that he had to do something to try to shake up the race. He had to do something to try and create some excitement and maybe pry open the door, but right now, I don’t think he’s an adequate challenger. I don’t see what Carly brings you other than another set of campaign hands. She will campaign for him. She’s an effective speaker.
I liked it when she was attacking Hillary, but then I wonder why Carly herself was involved in the Clinton Foundation. A lot of Republicans have gone over the side in this sense. I think they’re looking for a grandstand play that allows them to hijack the nomination. I think there are many Republicans getting used to the fact that Trump is the likely nominee, and they’re beginning to see that he is attracting a number of people who are not your traditional country club Republicans.
I also think that just at the time his nomination began to look inevitable, you had the unfortunate incident of his campaign manager being arrested for allegedly roughing up a reporter. This was followed by three days of clarifications on abortion, which, while important, is not a driving issue in this election when we have Islamic terrorists who may incinerate us as a nation, not an issue that I think is particularly productive to talk about, but that downdraft made party leaders wonder whether Trump was up to this.
I think Trump has begun to erase those doubts with these big wins in the northeast, and going forward, I think he wins Indiana and proves it again.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): In the beginning few months of his campaign, Trump was labeled a racist and a misogynist by Democrats and Republicans alike. Recently, Trump’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort, said that Trump recognized the need to reshape his persona, and that the part he’s been playing is evolving. But isn’t this “reshaping” too late to win the votes of women and minorities in the general election?
Roger Stone: Issues will be what gets those voters and the exposure of Hillary Clinton’s abuse of women. Younger women need to understand her record on promoting women, employing women, paying women more than men, something Hillary has never done, no matter what she says. I also think Trump has the economic argument to African Americans and Hispanics. He’s got to be the growth candidate. They can talk about immigration all they want. Trump wants to talk about jobs for people who are here legally. It’s a winner.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): In all your years involved in political campaigns, have you ever seen this much discourse within a political party where the other candidates have been very open to block the frontrunner whom they openly disliked?
Roger Stone: Actually, history is just repeating itself. Everybody was astounded by the Cruz-Kasich alliance to try to block Trump, but this has many historical precedents. Nelson Rockefeller, George Romney and William Scranton got together with Richard Nixon to try to block Barry Goldwater in 1964, a “stop Goldwater” movement.
Gov. Nelson Rockefeller and Gov. Ronald Reagan had a secret back-channel operation going trying to foil Richard Nixon’s comeback on the first ballot in Miami Beach in 1968. All it does is put the establishment and special interest group stamp on Ted Cruz. He’s prepared to deal with the establishment to block the person chosen overwhelmingly by the voters.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Why have you never run for political office, Roger?
Roger Stone: Too many skeletons. I like wine, women and song far too much.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): In your next book, you say that you have found evidence proving Bill and Hillary Clinton killed John F. Kennedy, Jr.?
Roger Stone: I’m working on a new book which, and I don’t want to get too far out here because it’s still in the process, I make a comprehensive case that JFK, Jr. was murdered. There are many, many suspicious, undocumented things about his plane crash. There are many inconsistencies in what the public has been told. There are many inconsistencies about the weather.
I make a candidly, compelling, circumstantial case, but it’s a compelling case nonetheless that those with means, methods and opportunity are the Clintons because John F. Kennedy, Jr. was indeed warming up for the U.S. Senate seat that Hillary needed for her to step to the presidency. Ironically, John F. Kennedy, Jr., when asked why he was running for the Senate, said, “Well, to run for president, of course!” So he was in the Clintons’ way, and he had the Kennedy magic. There are many things regarding the record and the actions of the Clintons that day that would indicate that they are the ones with motive. It’ll be a lively and compelling read.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Will you ever get a Trump tattoo?
Roger Stone: It is unlikely. I’ve got Nixon right in the middle of my back, but the reason I did that was, at some point, so that I could add Goldwater, Reagan and Buckley for a conservative Mt. Rushmore.
By Nick Carey
When Chris Cox rolls into Cleveland in mid-July with other motorcycle-riding supporters of Donald Trump, he plans to celebrate the billionaire's coronation as the Republican presidential nominee. He also counts on joining protests if a battle over the nomination ensues.
"I'm anticipating we'll be doing a victory dance," said Cox, 47, a chainsaw artist and founder of Bikers for Trump, thousands of whom he estimates will hit the Ohio city for the July 18-21 Republican National Convention.
"But if the Republican Party tries to pull off any backroom deals and ignores the will of the people, our role will change."
Bikers For Trump is part of a diverse array of groups coordinating to hold thousands-strong protests and marches if the real-estate mogul is denied outright victory at the Republican Party’s nominating convention in Cleveland.
The risks of confrontation and violence surrounding Trump events were highlighted again on Thursday, when around 20 people were arrested following clashes between anti-Trump protesters and police outside a rally for the candidate in California. It was the worst outbreak of violence since Trump was forced to cancel a rally in Chicago in mid-March.
Anti-Trump protests are expected in Cleveland. In late March, the left-leaning National Lawyers Guild held a conference in the city to coordinate legal support to protesters in the event of mass arrests during demonstrations.
Leaders and members of the pro-Trump groups told Reuters their main goal is to mount a show of support for their candidate, who after a series of primary victories this week looks increasingly likely to clinch the nomination outright ahead of Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Ohio Governor John Kasich.
But if he falls short of the required 1,237 delegates, raising the risk he could lose out in a contested convention, they said they plan to do all they can to exert pressure on party leaders to prevent someone else getting the nomination.
Several Trump supporters suggested that tensions could escalate if the party was seen as trying to deny Trump the nomination despite his commanding lead in delegates won in primary contests.
"The plan either way is send a message to the Republican establishment to respect our votes," said Ralph King, a member of the Cleveland Tea Party. "If the party tries to parachute in a white knight to steal the nomination, it's not going to end well."
Trump has said that if he fails to get the nomination there will be "riots." Though there have been violent incidents at some Trump rallies, organizers insist they work closely with the authorities to avoid violence.
The U.S. Secret Service is the lead agency for the convention. Its spokeswoman Nicole Mainor said protests or violence for such an event are "factored into all of our contingency plans that have been built up over many, many months."
The Cleveland Division of Police also has a security plan in place as it does for all major events of this kind, a spokeswoman said in an email, without providing further details.
Bikers for Trump, which Cox founded in August and which he claims has 30,000 members and rising, is just one of a mixed bag of pro-Trump groups that aim to be in Cleveland. Reuters could not independently verify Cox's membership claims for the group, which has provided unofficial security at Trump rallies around the country.
Pro-Trump groups planning a presence in Cleveland include some Tea Party-affiliated organizations, a new group called Stop The Steal led by Trump ally Roger Stone, Citizens for Trump, and the Truckers for Trump group.
King, a veteran of Tea Party rallies, is coordinating with other groups and local police to obtain permits for marches and protests during the convention, and to hold a major rally in downtown Cleveland that will then march on the convention site.
"STOP THE STEAL"
Stone plans to raise $262,000 through online donations to hire buses and is negotiations with colleges in the Cleveland area on sleeping space for activists. He says he wants Republican delegates Trump has won in primaries to sign a "voluntary pledge" to back him beyond the first ballot should there be a contested convention. He did not disclose how much money the group has raised.
Citizens for Trump co-founder Tim Selaty says he will have activists filming events inside the convention center and broadcasting them live on social media "to document every move."
"If Mr. Trump walks into the convention center a couple of hundred votes ahead of Cruz and loses the nomination, it will not be a pretty scene," Selaty said.
Truckers for Trump says it has 4,000 members and that more than 1,000 are committed to driving their big rigs to Cleveland.
The pro-Trump groups say they are not seeking confrontation but fear that opponents of their candidate might start trouble.
"Our members will instructed that if there's trouble to stand back and let law enforcement do its job," said Matthew Heimbach, founder of the Traditionalist Workers Party, a "pro-white nationalist, pro-working class" party, which plans to have a few dozen members in Cleveland.
It is unclear is how many nationalists or white supremacists might attend. Trump has adherents on the far right, including former Klu Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke, who told his radio show listeners in February that voting for anyone other than Trump was "treason to your heritage."
The National Socialist Movement, a prominent white nationalist group, told Reuters it did not plan any events.
Brian Culpepper, a spokesman for the Detroit-based group and a Trump supporter, said many members support the mogul. But it does not officially back Republican or Democratic office seekers as it wishes to replace the current system with a white nationalist power structure.
"Our members are free to attend events in Cleveland as individuals," Culpepper said. "But we do not plan anything as a group."
By WILL RAHN
How would Donald Trump fare in a general election against Hillary Clinton? The conventional wisdom is that he wouldn't stand a chance. The GOP is divided. His campaign, despite a recent spate of landslide primary wins, appears to have its own civil war going on. His favorability numbers are at historic lows for a nominee.
The case against Trump's electability is strong. But it is also perhaps overstated. The Manhattan billionaire does have a narrow path to the White House. In fact, he may be the GOP's most electable option at this point, at least among the candidates who are actually still running for the job.
John Kasich argues he's the only guy who can beat Clinton, an idea mostly predicated on his performance in head-to-head election polls. But head-to-head polls this far out, historically speaking, are not all that predictive, and Kasich has struggled to turn his on-paper attractiveness into actual votes at the ballot box.
Ted Cruz, meanwhile, would likely be the most right-wing nominee since Barry Goldwater. His act appears to have worn thin among even the Republican grassroots, his natural constituency. Cruz might somehow still manage to pull the nomination away from Trump, but there's approximately zero reason to believe he can win over the swing voters who typically decide presidential contests.
So back to Trump, who still has a few things going for him. His general election strategy, such as it is, seems to be predicated on two strategies: pivot left as far as possible and launch a scorched earth campaign against Clinton.
Let's look at these one at a time. On the face of it, insulting your way to the presidency seems like a stupid, unworkable idea. Then again, Clinton has shown herself vulnerable to attacks on her character, not to mention her husband's.
The reaction to Rosario Dawson's in-passing reference to Monica Lewinsky over the weekend shows how sensitive the Clinton camp is to such things. Lewinsky is a sympathetic figure wrapped up in a sympathetic cause; Dawson only said that she agrees with her anti-bullying efforts. And yet still there were calls for Dawson to get off the trail for Bernie Sanders, that she had somehow crossed a line just by mouthing the word "Monica."
What happens when Trump, after Hillary inevitably accuses him of sexism, says that Bill is a rapist, a serial assaulter of women, and that she is his enabler? What happens when he incorporates this into his stump speech? The upside, if you can call it that, to Trump's refusal to act "presidential" is that he is the only candidate who will go that far. Trump, and Trump alone, is the only candidate who would not only resurrect all the Clinton sex scandals, but make them a centerpiece of his campaign.
It could backfire, sure. But the fact is we have no idea how Trump dredging up all this will play, particularly among the younger voters Hillary will be somewhat dependent on. We don't know how Americans who've grown up marinating in discussions of rape culture, who watched the Cosby and Catholic and Dr. Luke scandals unfold, would respond to the renewed visibility of someone like Juanita Broaddrick.
And that's just the sex stuff. The Clintons are no strangers to scandals financial and otherwise, and while bringing up all that baggage, in some cases discredited, would seem too-low for a normal candidate, Trump will almost certainly embrace all of it.
Hillary's weak points aside, Trump also has one main advantage, which is that he'd be probably the most moderate nominee in decades. Now, Trump is not normally what we think of when we think of moderates - "reactionary moderate" is perhaps the best term to describe him. But border walls and Muslim bans aside, Trump really most closely resembles an old-school northeastern centrist Republican.
Trump likes the welfare state. He's made protecting entitlements central to his pitch. It's safe to say that he's likely, at heart, socially liberal -- the story of how he became anti-abortion, for example, doesn't make a great deal of sense. (That story, in brief: friends of his debated having an abortion. They did not. The kid turned out to be "a winner." When pressed if he would have stayed pro-abortion if the kid was a loser, Trump once replied "probably not.")
He clearly doesn't like these "Bathroom Bills" popping up in red states; bad for business, and that's always Trump's bottom line. Regardless of what he says in the lead-up to next week's Indiana primary, that probably goes for RFRAs as well. And given the milieu he's always existed in, it's hard to believe he really opposes gay marriage, either.
Trump has had the benefit of never really fleshing out what he believes about specific policies; nearly a year into his campaign, we still don't know what he'd replace Obamacare with. He is, as his longtime advisor Roger Stone says, a "big picture" guy: pro-business, pro-military, pro-America. The rest is all open to negotiation, to making the best deal.
And, as Jim Antle notes over at The Washington Examiner, that puts him pretty squarely into the vast middle of the American electorate. "The New American Center", as NBC News recently called it, is patriotic. It thinks America is the best country in the world. But it hates our political system and our elites. It doesn't like immigration or Affirmative Action or other programs explicitly designed to help minorities.
It is, in other words, Trump's natural base, at least on paper. Now, there are still plenty of reasons why someone who agrees with Trump on a whole mess of issues might still be unwilling to vote for him. But it's a mistake to assume that the man doesn't have a natural constituency outside the GOP.
There are a lot of "ifs" in all this. Trump can alienate his own base if he triangulates too much between now and Election Day. His seeming inability to set up any kind of nationwide infrastructure might alone doom him in a race with Clinton. Voters just might decide that they really do hate the guy and will do anything from seeing him become president. There are endless variables here, and Clinton should be considered the odds-on favorite for the presidency.
But that doesn't mean Trump doesn't have a chance. He does.
By Radar Staff
One of Donald Trump‘s most trusted confidants is coming to his defense after a California woman filed suit against the presidential contender, claiming he raped her when she was a teen.
“This lawsuit sounds like BS — plain and simple,” former Trump adviser Roger Stone, who remains close with Trump, told RadarOnline.com. “It smacks of a political smear job!”
As Radar reported, the woman — identified as Katie Johnson — filed documents in a California court on April 26, accusing Trump and billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein of “sexual abuse under threat of harm” and “conspiracy to deprive [her] civil rights.”
Like Stone, Trump ripped apart Johnson’s story as manufactured to destroy his political aspirations. “The allegations are not only categorically false, but disgusting at the highest level and clearly framed to solicit media attention or, perhaps, are simply politically motivated,” he told Radar exclusively. “There is absolutely no merit to these allegations. Period.”
Johnson claimed Trump, 69, turned her into a “sex slave” and in 1994 when she was 13 in exchange for the chance at a modeling career. She filed the lawsuit herself — without legal representation — and is suing for $100 million.
by James McClure
If you're a fan of Richard Nixon or irony, there may be a special marijuana strain for you. "Tricky Dick" is (apparently) a new brand of bud being grown for medical marijuana patients in California, says its backer - and former Nixon campaigner - Roger Stone.
"We are legally farming a strain of marijuana in Northern California in Yorba Linda, the hometown of Richard Nixon," Stone told Jim DeFede, a reporter for CBS in Miami.
Stone describes the strain as guaranteed to give you a bad buzz and the munchies: "That's a very unique blend of marijuana. You smoke it, you become very paranoid, and you want to go to a Chinese restaurant."
If that got your eyes rolling, imagine how the strain's namesake must be rolling in his grave. Nixon was, after all, the godfather of the War on Drugs.
And no one knows that better than Stone, a former Nixon campaigner and political operative who has been described as "a master of right-wing hit jobs" and "skilled in the dark arts of politics."
Stone has been involved to some extent in political campaigns since he was a kid in 1960, and the young Stone actually campaigned against Nixon then. He ran a smear campaign in his elementary school's mock presidential election. "I remember going through the cafeteria line and telling every kid that Nixon was in favor of school on Saturdays," Stone told The Washington Post in 2007. "It was my first political trick."
Since converting to conservative politics in the later 60s (and then turning libertarian decades later), Stone has worked almost exclusively for right-wing politicians, including Donald Trump. Stone made news in Oct. 2015 by calling Ohio Governor (and rival for the Republican presidential nomination) John Kasich a hypocrite for his opposition to marijuana legalization.
Hypocrisy ? I fired John Kasich from the 1976 Reagan Campaign ... For selling pot to other field men— Roger Stone (@RogerJStoneJr) October 29, 2015
But Stone himself supports marijuana reform. In February 2013, he wrote an article for The Huffington Post calling on Florida voters to decriminalize and eventually legalize recreational marijuana use. "Think of the pain and suffering we can soothe," he wrote, "the lives we save by avoiding a criminal record for mere possession and the billions of revenues marijuana could ultimately bring to the Sunshine State."
He also admitted to his own personal use in the article. "While I will cop to smoking marijuana on occasion in the past I prefer a very dry vodka martini with blue cheese stuffed olives, please."
However, he's an avid collector of political pot paraphernalia. Check out this clip featuring his Nixon bong, Nixon pipe and Nixon-esque parody of the Zig-Zag mascot.
by Sam Reisman
Speaking to radio host Joe Piscopo Monday morning on AM 970 The Answer, Trump ally Roger Stone touted his plan to lead a “largest outdoor massive, peaceful, nonviolent protest in Cleveland history” at the Republican National Convention this July.
“What happens outside the convention is just as important as what happens inside,” Stone said. “Our votes matter.”
Stone was referring to the Stop The Steal, a protest effort to oppose the efforts of the “Bush-Cruz-Rubio-Romney-Ryan-McConnell faction” from denying Donald Trump the Republican nomination. On Piscopo’s show, Stone directed listeners to StopTheSteal.org, which prescribes: “We must express our rage over the hijacking of democracy. We must dominate Cleveland.”
Stone has caught some heat lately for enjoining Trump’s supporters to confront delegates at the convention, promising that he would reveal their hotel room numbers. Though he subsequently published an op-ed in Breitbart clarifying his position: “Violence would be counterproductive to Trump’s general election drive,” he wrote.
By GLENN THRUSH
Last August, Roger Stone had a serious falling-out with his longtime friend and boss Donald Trump over campaign strategy.
He thought Trump ought to have one.
Stone, Trump’s most influential and seasoned political adviser at the time, says he quit after the do-it-myself billionaire rejected his plans to create a traditional campaign structure and a suggestion that he seek to broaden his pitch beyond working-class whites. Instead, Trump put his mouth where he wouldn’t put his money, opting for an on-the-cheap one-man road show, fortified by monster debate ratings and an unavoidable-for-comment approach to cable and network TV interviews.
“You don’t manage Donald … you can't deal with him on that basis,” Stone, nursing a mild martini hangover the morning after celebrating Trump’s blowout win in the New York primary last week, explained. During an hourlong sit-down for POLITICO’s “Off Message” podcast, the 63-year-old former Dick Nixon dirty trickster offered a candid assessment of his longtime boss’s strengths, blind spots and daunting path to the presidency.
“He envisioned a campaign which was all communications,” said Stone — who has bounced back in recent weeks to re-emerge as a key adviser to Trump as the tycoon faces a dangerous new phase of his storybook 2016. “But the notion that you could combat — let’s take Florida — $40 million worth of negative television simply by going on ‘Fox & Friends’ and responding, I rejected that idea.”
Stone doesn’t have a formal relationship with the campaign (his role is limited by his stewardship of a pro-Trump super PAC) and he wouldn’t tell me how often he talks with Trump or his top aides. But the campaign’s shotgun reorganization (his former lobbying partner Paul Manafort has layered over Stone’s rival, campaign manager Corey Lewandowski) — and germinating kinder-gentler general election pivot — bears Stone’s fingerprints.
“He’s going to have to better articulate himself on issues that are of concern to women,” Stone said of Trump, stating an obvious truth that, until recently, wasn’t all that obvious to a candidate who prides himself on political incorrectness. “He is going to have to define a pro-growth, more aspirational message for African-American voters, for Hispanic voters, where I actually think he can make inroads.”
When I asked Stone how Trump could possibly do that — and whom he should tap as a running mate— he threw out John Kasich’s name almost by rote. Then he settled on a choice that seemed to better capture his imagination: “Little Marco” Rubio.
Stone, who worked as a dark-arts political type for Nixon and later Ronald Reagan, is a paradox in wide pinstripes and oval 1930s movie-star shades. He’s known for scorched-earth muckraking (he co-authored a book dredging up Clinton scandals and recently emailed me to say that the Clintons should “be worried” about him because “I know exactly how to take them down”) but he desperately wants Trump to make his peace with women and minority voters. Stone’s the ultimate Donald insider (he’s been on Trump’s payroll, on and off, for 40 years) but his habit of telling Trump what he thinks has created an arm’s-length distance. He’s infamous for his profane tirades and crass Twitter outbursts (he once mocked Al Sharpton — a onetime friend — with a fried-chicken joke) but he’s a charming conversationalist who speaks authoritatively about political biographies and pines for lazy Saturdays lost in the stacks of Manhattan’s famous Strand bookstore.
Even his trademark — a big Nixon tattoo planted between his shoulder blades — sends a mixed, nuanced message. It’s not actually an expression of affection for his one-time boss (he likes Reagan and Ike a lot more, idolizes his libertarian hero Barry Goldwater and modeled his brass-knuckle approach to politics on Bobby Kennedy’s wet work); it’s an homage to Nixon’s “resilience,” and he had it etched on his back at a time when he was suffering from a debilitating ailment that left him bed-ridden, deeply depressed and in need of an emotional boost.
Still, warm and fuzzy isn’t Stone’s thing; maybe that’s why Trump ushered him back into the fold. Ted Cruz personally called out Stone for purportedly leaking a salacious story to The National Enquirer about the Texas senator’s alleged extramarital affairs; Stone has repeatedly denied he did it (to me and others), but he loves that Cruz thinks he did it. “I think I'm in Ted Cruz’s head right now. He’s got his paid shills, Glenn Beck and Mark Levin, attacking me viciously,” Stone said. “I have to assume that Ted Cruz is laying awake at night worrying about what I'm doing next.”
He hopes to play the same trick on Hillary and Bill Clinton. “Part of the strategy of any campaign is to psych out the opposition,” he added. “There's no question that Karl Rove got into John Kerry's head. ... I think they're more vulnerable than most because they have more crimes to hide.”
Stone, one friend told me, was stung by Trump’s rejection of his advice – and hurt even more by the developer tweeting that he’d fired Stone. But history has vindicated the son of a Connecticut well-digger and a Sicilian-American mother whom he compared to Livia, Tony Soprano’s merciless, Machiavellian mother in HBO’s “The Sopranos.”
Trump’s early no-plan plan — overseen by a surly, obscure GOP operative named Corey Lewandowski — worked brilliantly, Stone told me, at least for a while. That was, until Trump’s lack of state-level organizations led to defeats in Wisconsin and, in the delegate game, Louisiana — and Trump’s Jackson Pollock splattering of invective resulted in national disapproval ratings that pushed an unheard-of 70 percent.
Stone believes the recent shake-up is a vital first step toward victory against Clinton, whom he sees as a weak and vulnerable foe. Lewandowski, Stone told me with a sly smile, wasn’t really a full-service campaign director, but a “tour director” with a narrow, logistics-minded approach that reminded him of his former colleague in the Nixon White House, John Ehrlichman, who served jail time for the Watergate cover-up.
You want to set up a well-executed rally and create a database of all the attendees? Stone asked. Lewandowski is your guy. “He was the right campaign manager for that model because the model consisted of a well-run tour. … Now, you're just in a different phase of the campaign.” he added.
“Actually, he reminds me more of [domineering Nixon chief of staff] Bob Haldeman, but maybe that's just the brush cut.”
Stone’s core disagreement was never with Lewandowski, but with another supremely self-confident novice: Trump, his employer and friend since the late 1970s. Like nearly everyone in Trump’s orbit, Stone is exceedingly reluctant to publicly criticize the boss (possibly because of the nondisclosure form he signed) and he thinks Trump’s “amazing” political instincts have been enough to get him this far. But he believes Trump could still have executed his part of the campaign — the speeches, the debates, the media — while letting professionals (like Stone and Manafort) master the details Cruz’s campaign has exploited in victories that have denied Trump an easy path to the nomination.
“Without telling tales out of school, because I have a nondisclosure, ... I envisioned a campaign that used the more traditional tools of polling and analytics and targeting and paid media, and a greater depth of organization,” said Stone.
But organization isn’t what Trump is about, and Stone offered tantalizing behind-the-scenes glimpses of a gifted self-taught politician still learning a new trade, a creature of habit who “doesn’t surf the Web” ever, and still gets much of his news from tabloids. The presidency is a drinking-data-through-a-firehose job, but Trump, Stone told me, is reluctant to even sip the water fountain; he finds even minimalist policy briefings to be eye-glazing, Jeb Bush-level bores. Stone loves Trump — he says he’s one of the funniest people he knows — but conceded it’s “an adventure” trying to counsel a reality-TV billionaire who refuses to be scripted or stage-managed.
Stone paused when I asked him how he — or any other adviser — could change the developer’s mind once Trump had been set on a course of action. Tread lightly and keep it punchy was his best advice.
“When you know somebody that long, you get an understanding about how to affect their thinking without being, you know, without being insulting or overstepping a line,” he said. “Nobody puts words in Donald’s mouth. He is his own conceptualizer. All you can do is present information and let him either assimilate it or not. When you write something for him, keep it short and staccato. He’s not going to read a 40-page white paper on the economy; zero chance of that. ... Reagan was a big-picture guy. Trump is a big-picture guy.”
Students at the University of South Carolina hold a rally and news conference at the state Capitol to protest a controversial bill that would ban transgender people from choosing the bathroom they use, on April 13, in Columbia, S.C.
Stone is sanguine about Trump’s chances, despite predictions by the likes of Larry Sabato and Nate Silver that he will suffer a historic Electoral College blowout.
“I think that obviously he has some challenges going into the general election. But I think they’re all soluble,” Stone said.
That doesn’t mean he’s not worried, like most GOP elders, about the effect the looming convention in Cleveland will have on Trump’s candidacy, despite his own public bravado on the topic. Even as he was savoring the big New York win, Stone fretted that Trump’s continued insistence on whipping up his supporters to confront protesters at his rallies would ultimately backfire and possibly spark riots that would hobble his general election campaign before it begins.
“I would suggest that [we] just don’t step into that trap,” Stone said. “This is going to be the biggest challenge in Cleveland ... I lived through the ’68 campaign. I worked for Nixon. I saw what the violence in Chicago did to Hubert Humphrey’s prospects. Any violence in Cleveland would be counterproductive to Trump’s general election prospects.”
This from a man who had recently suggested, in watch-out-or-you-might-get-hit-by-that-dump-truck fashion, that Trump’s army of supporters might want to hunt down any pledged delegates who were thinking of defecting to Cruz if the convention fight came to a second ballot. (Stone says his comment was taken out of context. “In no place did I advocate going and physically beating on delegates.”)
Stone, after all, has been living on the shady outskirts of political respectability from his earliest days in politics: As a 19-year-old college student working on Nixon’s 1972 campaign he was tasked with framing a rival politician by making a fake contribution to the Socialist Party with a pickle jar full of dimes and quarters. His love of skullduggery also reflects a love of the theatrical — another bond with Trump — that was fostered even earlier: As a kid he grew up idolizing movie stars (“I wanted to be Gary Cooper,” he told me, an interesting idol for a guy who likes to wear the political black hat).
His politics are mostly in step with Trump’s, but he skews a lot more libertarian. Stone is fiscally conservative and has bonded with the boss on his opposition to the Iraq war, but unlike Trump he’s a backer of gay marriage and abortion rights.
When I asked him whether Trump’s flip-flop on choice was politically expedient, he shakes his head and offers a personal observation. “I do think that the birth of his youngest child really profoundly changed his views on abortion,” he told me. “You go back and you look someplace where he was talking about this, he said, ‘You know, I had a friend, and this friend and his wife had a baby late in his life,’ and then it occurred to me, he's talking about himself, but it’s a little too personal, I think, because he and his wife had [their 10-year-old son] Barron when Donald was in his 60s.”
Many Trump surrogates refuse to even acknowledge the possibility that the great man could lose — much less suffer a landslide to Clinton — but Stone knows how tough the race will be. Still, he argues two factors will deliver his guy to the Oval Office: so far secret dirt he plans to dump on the Clintons, and Trump’s innate capacity to project strength through mass media.
Stone’s relationship with Trump seems to be grounded in real admiration, and he confesses to have been star-struck from their first meeting. “You know, he seems greater than any mortal human,” he told me.
“I've often thought that his celebrity status was the greatest asset he brought to this, enhanced enormously by 15 seasons of ‘The Apprentice,’” Stone added. “I understand that elites look at that and say, ‘Oh, it's reality TV.’ But to voters, there’s no line between the news and reality TV. It's all TV. It’s all television. If you see Trump in ‘The Apprentice,’ he’s in the high-backed chair. He’s perfectly lit. He’s perfectly made up. He’s perfectly coiffed. He’s perfectly dressed. And he’s decisive. He’s tough. He’s making decisions.
“He looks and acts like what you think a president should be.”
By Dylan Byers
Roger Stone loves resilience. It's why the former body builder had Richard Nixon's face tattooed on his broad back.
"It's there to remind me that in life, when things don't go your way, you get back in the game," Stone said in an interview with CNN. "Nixon said, 'A man is not finished when he's defeated, he's only finished when he quits.'"
When it comes to Donald Trump's 2016 presidential bid, things did not initially go Stone's way. He had one vision for the campaign; Trump had another. But after leaving in August, Stone is back, in a manner of speaking. With the Republicans potentially facing a contested convention, his brand of political trench warfare is now in greater demand than ever.
Late last month, Trump appointed veteran GOP strategist and lobbyist Paul Manafort -- Stone's longtime friend and business partner, dating back to the Reagan years -- to lead his fight for delegates. Sources close to all three men say Stone played a role in that appointment, which gave him a new lifeline into Trump's campaign.
Stone also heads "The Committee to Restore America's Greatness," a pro-Trump super PAC that has redirected its mission "to help stop the Republican establishment from stealing the Presidential nomination" from Trump -- which, of course, will be the campaign's chief preoccupation between now and the Republican convention in late July.
The campaign changes come as Trump has repeatedly charged that the nominating process is "rigged" to block him, a statement Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus dismissed as "hyperbole" in an interview with CNN's Dana Bash on "State of the Union."
But Stone's most significant role will likely take place this summer in Cleveland. In a contested convention, his mastery of political dark arts could prove instrumental in securing the delegates that Trump needs. He has been to every Republican convention since 1964, and he's worked the floor at every convention since 1972. And even he readily admits that he is capable of employing tactics other operatives wouldn't dream of, let alone try.
While Trump and his campaign can claim no connection with Stone -- after all, he left the campaign last August -- those who know the two men say that they speak regularly, and that Stone is an influential voice in Trump's ear.
"Roger is never too far away from Trump ... He's always talking to Donald," a source close to both men said. "Roger and Trump always wind up finding their way back to each other," said another.
Of his contacts with the front-running candidate, Stone says, "I talk to Trump from time to time, but not every day. I don't even necessarily talk to him every week."
Rivals criticize Stone's involvement
Stone's resurgence worries Trump's competitors, who appear to fear his role in the delegate fight and at the convention. Last week at a CNN town hall meeting, Senator Ted Cruz said Stone was "pulling the strings on Donald Trump. He planned the Trump campaign, and he is Trump's henchman and dirty trickster."
The "dirty trickster" charge is one Stone is familiar with: He was Nixon's "dirty trickster" before he was Reagan's "dirty trickster" before he was George H.W. Bush's "dirty trickster." In 2000, he helped George W. Bush in the Florida recount effort by working with local media and Spanish-language press to amplify pro-Bush efforts to shut down the recount in Miami-Dade County, and he later claimed to have obtained the frequencies of walkie-talkies that Democrats were using to communicate so he could listen in on their plans. He has also claimed that he was first to learn about Eliot Spitzer's affairs with call girls, which ultimately led to his resignation as Governor of New York.
"One man's dirty trick is another man's civic participation," said Stone.
"He's the type of the guy who doesn't really pull any punches," said Tony Fabrizio, the veteran Republican pollster who is close to Stone. "Most people have one of two reactions to Roger: They either love him or they hate him. There's no middle ground with Roger. He is just the type of guy who generates heat everywhere he goes."
Stone was recently blacklisted from both CNN -- for disparaging remarks he made about CNN political analyst Ana Navarro -- and from MSNBC because of what the network described as his "very well-known offensive comments."
He was born in 1952 and raised in Lewisboro, New York, about an hour north of Manhattan. He read Barry Goldwater's "The Conscience of a Conservative" as a child and by the time he turned 13 he was volunteering for William F. Buckley, Jr. George Washington University brought him to the nation's capital, and in 1976 he was named national youth director for Reagan's first presidential bid.
Reagan is how Stone got introduced to Trump: In 1979, Stone came to New York to help Reagan's longshot effort to win the state's primary. "New York was Bush country," Stone said. "Trump let us use his plane, let us use phones, let us use office spaces he didn't even own ... We got to be friendly, and in 1981 when we founded Black, Manafort and Stone" -- Stone's former lobbying firm with Charlie Black and Manafort -- the Trump organization was among our first clients." In 1999, Stone helped lead Trump's presidential bid on the Reform Party ticket.
Sixteen years later, Trump again called on Stone to play a key role in his campaign. But the formal assignment was short-lived.
At the outset, Stone advocated for traditional methods: polling, analytics, advertising. But Trump had something different in mind: hold rallies, generate controversy, get free media coverage. Stone didn't care for that approach, nor the man tasked with implementing it: Corey Lewandowski, Trump's campaign manager, who didn't much care for Stone, either, sources close to the campaign said. (Both Lewandowski and Trump spokesperson Hope Hicks declined to be interviewed for this story.)
So Stone left in August, less than two months after the campaign launched. But he never really was gone. He was not ousted, as was originally reported, nor was he forced into exile, as some journalists would claim. He was always there, on the sidelines, talking to Trump on a regular basis, planting stories in the press, influencing things where he could, several sources said.
What will Stone do next?
Now, eight months later, Trump's "say anything" strategy has given way to a new phase. He's trying to assemble the 1,237 delegates he needs to clinch the nomination, and he's in desperate need of experienced political infighters who can navigate the contentious fight for delegates. Which means that Stone's services are back in demand.
"If it is exile," Stone said of his predicament, "it's Elba, not St. Helena."
In fact, if you buy the Napoleonic comparison, Stone is already marching on Paris.
Cruz fears Stone's next "dirty trick" involves inciting Trump supporters at the convention. Earlier this month, Stone called for "protests" and "demonstrations" in Cleveland, and said he would "disclose the hotels and the room numbers of those delegates" who were involved in "stealing" the nomination from Trump.
Though Stone never explicitly called for violence against any turncoat delegates, Cruz, among others, read it as a threat. The Texas senator called on Trump to fire both Stone and Manafort -- another indication of just how closely those two men are aligned.
"I don't know if the next thing we're going to see is voters or delegates waking up with horses heads in their beds," Cruz said on Dana Loesch's show on The Blaze. "This doesn't belong in the electoral process. ... [Trump] needs to fire the people responsible. ... He needs to denounce Manafort and Roger Stone, and his campaign team that is encouraging violence, and he needs to stop doing it himself."
Speaking to CNN, Stone scoffed: "I called on Trump supporters to go to their delegates, find them at their hotel, and ask them to sign a [pledge] to respect the will of the voters. I'm not for violence."
As for Cruz's preoccupation with him, Stone says, "It's obviously some kind of obsession. He must lay awake thinking about what I am doing."
The Cruz campaign declined to comment.
The big question on the mind of Cruz and the Republican establishment is just what kind of trouble Stone will get into at the GOP convention.
Stone says he's free to do whatever he wants, since he's not bound by any formal role in the Trump campaign organization.
"I'm my own person," Stone said, "I don't have to get clearance for things I want to say."
"I'm going as an FOT," he added. "Friend of Trump."
BY JANET REITMAN
Depending on whom you talk to, Roger Stone, the veteran GOP strategist and consigliere to a long line of Republicans, most recently Donald Trump, could be one of the sleaziest operatives in American politics, or the most effective. He has played a role in no fewer than nine presidential campaigns, starting with Richard Nixon's 1972 re-election bid, where he cut his teeth "trafficking in the black arts," as he's put it. He's lobbied for casino operators, consulted with Ukrainian politicians, was instrumental in stopping the 2000 Florida recount in Miami by orchestrating an angry mob of Republicans in pinstriped suits, and helped destroy the career of Eliot Spitzer by exposing his relationship with a prostitute. He has been described, in consistently unflattering terms, as, among other things: the "king of dirty tricks," a "self-admitted hit man for the GOP," the "boastful black prince of Republican sleaze" and "a little rat" — albeit one with a closet full of bespoke suits who drives a sleek silver Jaguar, one of six he has owned.
"I like them 'cause they're sexy," he tells me on a recent balmy Saturday afternoon in South Florida, where he has lived for 15 years. Stone, whose frequently outré tweets — he recently called CNN commentator Ana Navarro "dumber than dogshit" — have gotten him banned from two of the three major cable news channels, spends a good portion of lunch talking about this situation, which he describes as "Nazi-like" (and then notes that the left doesn't have a monopoly on Nazi references). But he moves on to discussing virtually every facet of contemporary politics as he eases the Jag into the driveway of his office, which is housed in a faceless mini-industrial district. The three-room space offers a visual archive of the past 40 years of American politics, dominated by Richard Nixon. Nixon, in fact, is everywhere: on wall posters, portraits, hand puppets, salt and pepper shakers, ping-pong paddles, rolling papers. There are Nixon bongs. There's a Nixon hash pipe. "There's a project I'm working on in Northern California where some friends and I have our licenses and permits for a strain of marijuana called 'Tricky Dick.' You smoke it, you immediately become paranoid and want to go to a Chinese restaurant," he jokes. Stone is very charming — which, of course, is part of the game. "Be nice to me," he says. "Write something that makes me look bad, they'll find your body — or rather, they won't find it."
Talk to me about how the dark art of political attacks and dirty tricks have changed since you entered politics.
Well, some tactics are pretty much the same then as now. I mean, 200 years ago, Andrew Jackson's rivals printed handbills that accused Jackson's wife of bigamy. Now, the National Enquirer says that Ted Cruz had five mistresses. What's changed politics is technology — it's made it much easier to disseminate information.
Cruz accuses you of a whole range of dirty tricks — from planting that National Enquirer story to controlling what gets published on Drudge. What's this about?
It shows I've succeeded in getting into this man's head. Look, "dirty trickster" is a pejorative, obviously. I like to win for my clients, and I'm prepared to do whatever I can to make sure they win, short of breaking the law. Politics ain't beanbag. This idea that a political campaign is a genteel and civil proceeding is not true. This is a no-holds-barred fight for the presidency of the United States. But no, I did not plant the story at the National Enquirer, and no, Ted Cruz does not have an iota of proof that I did. I'm a convenient whipping boy for Tricky Ted. Though I do find it somewhat humorous that Ted Cruz is whining about dirty tricks.
What happened between you and Trump — you were part of his campaign, and then you quit. Why the breakup?
I wouldn't call it a breakup — I didn't resign because I don't like him. I resigned because it became very clear that Donald had his own vision of how to do this. He was going to be his own strategist and run a completely communications-based campaign. There is no polling, no targeting, no analytics, no writing shop, no TV or radio commercials, no voter mailing, no targeted operations, no opposition research — all the staples of a modern campaign. He wasn't prepared to do any of those. And I disagreed with that setup, so I resigned. I just would have ended up fighting with him. But I will say that he's been proved right: You can do it for free — if you have the celebrity.
The New York Times, among others, has accused Trump of trying to "blame the system" for whatever ground he's lost. Do you think he's been robbed?
He's in the process of being robbed. What is happening is fundamentally undemocratic — but it can be defeated with a well-oiled delegate operation. The Trump campaign didn't have a real delegate operation before because of a belief that after he won the March primaries, it would all be over. And he believed this because his campaign advisers told him there would be no convention fight. That's a product of inexperience by his staff, who set a false level of expectation.
You've been warning that the party establishment will try to use this kind of chicanery to maneuver the nomination away from Trump — all of it happening before the first ballot. Can you explain the scenario?
This is what I call the Big Steal. I don't mean Trump falls short of 1,237 delegates and they won't give him the nomination. What I've said is, Trump has the 1,237 votes until they unseat his delegates somewhere or play some other legal trickery to steal it from him. And they'll do it in two ways: by planting their own people — what I call Trojan horse delegates — in the slots won by Trump, and by adopting rules for the convention that won't favor Trump. The Republican National Convention is not ruled by state or federal law, or by the U.S. courts — it's ruled by its own rules. It can do whatever it wants. And what we've found is that party bosses from a number of key states have been quietly planting establishment stooges in important slots. So the Rules Committee, which has the authority to change, rewrite or completely redo any rule previously adopted by the RNC, could pass a rule, just theoretically, that says that the delegate votes of non-Republicans [meaning Independents or Democrats who voted for Trump in open primaries] are thrown out. Now that has to go to the full convention for ratification. Trump doesn't have a majority on the floor, because, for instance, the Texas delegates who are for Trump are really not Trump people — the party has filled those seats with their lackeys. This is precisely how the 1952 nomination was stolen from Robert Taft for Dwight Eisenhower.
If this were to happen, you've basically called for Trump supporters to revolt in "days of rage," which sounds like you're calling for a 1968-style revolution.
I remember 1968. Why would I advocate for that? Violence at the convention is what destroyed Hubert Humphrey's chances in the general election. Violence would also hurt Donald Trump in the general election. Rage is defined as anger, not violence. There's nothing wrong with peaceful protests, and we're calling for four days of non-violent demonstrations, protests and lobbying delegates face to face.
By which you mean supporters finding out where delegates are staying and going to their hotel rooms, correct?
Yes. Look, the convention happens at night. During the day, everybody's hanging out at their hotel. So you go find your representatives and you make the case. You're trying to impress them with numbers. We need a dialogue with each delegate. We have the right to address the delegates. I never said, "Go to their room and beat the shit out of them." I said, "Find your delegates and tell them why they should vote for Donald Trump."
"The only thing worse in politics than being wrong is being boring. And Trump is never boring. Politics is show business for ugly people."
And how would you hold them to this?
We're going to produce a voluntary loyalty pledge that will say, if you're a Trump delegate, that you'll stick with Trump through all the ballots to reflect the will of the voters. We'll ask them to sign. It's voluntary, but we'll see who does it, and who the cockroaches are.
Sending people to delegates' hotel rooms with "voluntary" loyalty pledges doesn't strike you as intimidation?
That's democracy! I promise you, I have people e-mailing me all the time begging me to tell them how they can help Donald Trump. One man's dirty trick is another man's civic participation.
And "days of rage"? I mean, come on, that has a connotation you cannot ignore.
I admit it's somewhat theatrical. But on the other hand, if you don't say something provocative, you don't get covered at all. The point of the demonstration is a show of force by numbers. Say there are 100,000 people there — that's a big deal.
Trump recently hired your former business partner Paul Manafort to manage the convention. From the outside, it looks like Manafort is the adult who was brought in to take over for a bunch of amateurs. Did you recommend Manafort for this gig?
I most definitely did raise his name. I am not the only person who recommended him. But look, you're talking about a campaign that wanted to reach out to Washington state delegates and wound up sending e-mails to people in D.C. There is very little political experience in their staff. Most of the regional political directors have never been in politics before. And Trump is likely to be nominated despite the fact that he had a bunch of amateurs on his campaign. He's better than the campaign. The success here is not the success of Trump's campaign; it's the success of Trump.
Is Trump going to drive Manafort crazy? I mean, no one seems to say no to Trump.
At the same time, the fact that he is uncoached and unscripted, not reading from polling that tells him what to say to be popular, it's actually appealing. There's something [about] watching a guy in a high-wire act without a net. That's actually what sparked his campaign, the fact that it's not plastic and prefabricated.
You've known Trump for 40 years — who is he, really?
Well, first of all, he's one of the funniest people I know. There's nothing pretentious about him. Believe me, he'd prefer a cheeseburger to chateaubriand, that's just the way he is. He's a lot of fun to be with when you're not across from him in a business negotiation. Then he's the toughest son of a bitch I've ever met. He's completely fearless. He's also nationalist, which has nothing to do with race, it has to do with national sovereignty. I think his views have been amazingly consistent for a long period of time, particularly on trade and NATO. He's been talking about our NATO allies ripping us off and not paying their fair share for 30 years. Is he more flexible than he appears? Yes, he's a businessman.
What is it about Trump that so thoroughly freaks out the establishment?
The [consultant and lobbying class] are petrified of Donald Trump because he is completely uncontrollable — he's not beholden to anybody. And he also offers the party voters they have never gotten before: the people who feel left out, who've decided all government is rigged against them, who've been voting forever and nothing ever changes. The problem with the establishment GOP candidates has been that they have no ability to reach beyond the GOP base. Trump is bigger than the Republican Party. Ironically, a billionaire can change the Republican Party from being the Wall Street party back to being the mainstream, more populist-based, non-country-club party. That's great. Look, the only thing worse in politics than being wrong is being boring. And Trump is never boring. Politics is show business for ugly people.
Suppose Trump gets the nomination. What's his path to victory?
Well, let's remember he's not running against Joan of Arc. I mean, he's very polarizing, but Hillary's equally polarizing. So this will be a slugfest. I think he's got to debunk the idea that she's an advocate for women. He's got to debunk the idea that she's an advocate for children. He's got to take apart her record as secretary of state. And then I think he's got to open up the Clinton Foundation and show how they used it to enrich themselves.
What do you make of the Republicans like Lindsey Graham who've lined up behind Cruz?
Oh, Lindsey Graham is a whiner. He despises Cruz — he just hates him a little less than he hates Donald. They're all just using Ted to block Donald.
Still, it's ironic that Cruz, who had no problem shutting down the government, has now been embraced by the GOP establishment, even if it's only superficial.
The fact that all these establishment guys have supported him tells me that what they don't like is Ted personally, not Ted's views. They're perfectly fine with his views, by and large. And that's because Ted's the ultimate insider. He's a Princeton-Harvard globalist fraud, and his conservatism goes back about four years. Before that, he was a Bush Republican. Remember, he was one of George W. Bush's advisers on the Florida recount. His wife was a national-security adviser to Condoleezza Rice. Then she went to Goldman Sachs. Not too many "outsiders" are working at Goldman Sachs. Then, he went out purposefully to reinvent himself as the new Jesse Helms. He comes to D.C. acting like a prick. And I get it — he's building a base. But he's a total fraud.
You told me you think the Cruz team's tactics are "puerile and childish." That's funny, especially coming from a guy who suggested a primary opponent of Richard Nixon's was actually a leftist by giving the guy campaign contributions from "the Young Socialist Alliance."
That wasn't my idea! That was the idea of Patrick J. Buchanan. I was just a 19-year-old kid sent out on a stupid mission. The Nixon people were amateurish. They had this whole USC-fraternity mentality that took over after 1968, with the "ratfucking." This is how Watergate happens. No one who understood politics would have ever broken into the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee — for one thing, there wouldn't be anything in there worth stealing! Anyone who knew anything about campaigns could have told you that.
What was your takeaway from that?
The point isn't harassment — this is about votes. Ordering 20 pizzas and having them delivered to the Democratic headquarters, that's just stupid. You're not changing a single vote. But, say, when John Lindsay is running for president in the Florida Democratic primary in 1972, and somebody hires a plane to fly over Miami Beach with a banner that reads LINDSAY IS TSORIS — which is Yiddish for "trouble" — at a time when Miami Beach is overwhelmingly Jewish ... every yid on the beach knows what that means. That's brilliant!
I assume you hired the plane?