On the Apparent Complexities of Charging Roger Stone

As I disclosed last month, I provided information to the FBI on issues related to the Mueller investigation, so I’m going to include disclosure statements on Mueller investigation posts from here on out. I will include the disclosure whether or not the stuff I shared with the FBI pertains to the subject of the post. 

Last night, Sam Nunberg reportedly told Ari Melber he thought Roger Stone would be indicted on “broad charges of conspiring against America … backed up by some financial charges.” That has led to some Tweet lawyering suggesting that such ConFraudUS charges would arise naturally from Stone’s known interactions with WikiLeaks and Guccifer 2.0.

I’m certain things are not as simple as that. If they were, Mueller would not have spent much of the last five months focusing on testimony relating to Stone, including (this list doesn’t include at least one other person whose Stone-related testimony is not public):

  • February 22: Sam Nunberg questioned by Mueller’s team
  • March 9: Mueller obtains a warrant for 5 AT&T phones (and probably a similar number of Verizon ones)
  • March 9: Sam Nunberg appears before grand jury
  • March 27: Ted Malloch stopped at Logan airport, questioned about Stone and Wikileaks, devices seized, subpoenaed to appear before grand jury on April 13 (the grand jury appearance was rescheduled or canceled)
  • May 2: Michael Caputo interviewed by Mueller team; among the topics discussed was outreach by “Henry Greenberg” to deal dirt on Hillary Clinton to Stone
  • May 10: Mueller subpoenas Andrew Miller for documents and testimony, Miller agrees to meet voluntarily with Mueller’s team
  • May 11: Alicia Dearn contacts Mueller and says Miller is no longer willing to appear
  • May 14: Mueller’s team contacts Dearn to inquire about her representation of Miller; she does not return the call
  • May 18: John Kakanis reportedly subpoenaed after having been interviewed by Mueller’s team
  • May 18: Miller blows off a May 18 appearance before the grand jury; Dearn’s employee says Dearn will contact Mueller’s team on May 21
  • May 21: Dearn blows off promised call to Mueller’s team
  • May 23: Mueller’s team emails Dearn a second set of subpoenas, to appear on June 1
  • May 25: Stone says 8 associates have been asked for testimony
  • May 25: Mueller’s team follows up on subpoenas; Dearn asks for more time to comply “given the volume of responsive documents;” Mueller agrees to adjourn document production to June 5 and appearance to Jun 8
  • May 31: Mueller contacts Dearn to confirm appearance; Dearn complains about “patently irrelevant” responsive materials; Mueller agrees to exclude those materials
  • June 1: Jason Sullivan appears before grand jury
  • June 5: Mueller emails new subpoenas reflecting the June 5 production date and June 8 appearance
  • June 6: Mueller emails Dearn to confirm appearance and arrange for travel
  • June 8: Miller blows off grand jury appearance
  • June 11, 8:50AM and 2:15PM: Mueller emails Dearn and asks for immediate contact, warning that Special Counsel would move towards contempt
  • June 12, 9:07AM and 2:15PM: Dearn twice says she’ll provide correspondence within an hour but does not
  • June 13: Mueller moves to compel
  • June 14: Miller filed opposition purporting to be a motion to quash
  • June 18: At hearing on motion to quash, court orders Miller to appear on June 28
  • June 28: Miller retains Paul Kamenar, paid by the National Legal and Policy Center, who challenges subpoenas as challenge to Appointments Clause, borrowing argument from Concord Management motion
  • June 29: At status hearing in Miller challenge, Kamenar adds another challenge, that Mueller was appointed by “Head of Department”
  • July 18: Hearing on Miller challenge, attended by 5 Mueller lawyers, with follow-up briefing
  • July 31: Chief Judge Beryl Howell rules that Miller must testify ASAP
  • August 1: Kristin Davis interviewed by Mueller team; investigators express an interest in having her appear before grand jury
  • August 3: Dabney Friedrich entertains ignoring DC Circuit and SCOTUS precedent to rule for Concord Management’s challenge of Mueller’s authority, with Kamenar watching; Concord lawyer Eric Dubelier suggests conspiracy in the timing of Howell’s ruling
  • August 10: Kristin Davis appearance before grand jury

While some of these witnesses were clearly asked about Wikileaks, others were reportedly asked about meetings involving Rick Gates, Stone’s finances, and even whether he fathered Davis’ two year old child. And while Stone’s buddies claim Mueller is generally investigating his finances, Mueller’s focus seems to be on the recipients of expenditures from Stone’s SuperPAC.

Clearly, whatever question Mueller is investigating (and whatever potential crimes he showed probable cause of, if he indeed seized the contents of Stone’s phone back in March) is more complex than just chatting up Assange or Guccifer 2.0. Indeed, even the discussions we know of show Stone involved in — or at least entertaining — more than that. That said, Mueller will need to prove that whatever Stone did involved the understanding that he was accepting things of value (or even, soliciting the active help) from foreigners or other illegal actions.

That’s one reason why the circumstances of Stone’s flip-flop in early August 2016, in which Stone went from admitting that the DNC hack was done by Russia to claiming it was not seemly in one day in which he was in Southern California is so important: because he established a contemporaneous claim he has relied on to excuse any coordination with Guccifer 2.0 and WikiLeaks. Given the import of Stone’s flip-flop, I find it interesting that so much of the funding for his SuperPAC came from Southern California, especially from John Powers Middleton. Did he meet with his donors when he orchestrated the flip-flop that makes it harder to argue his discussions and foreknowledge of Guccifer 2.0 and WikiLeaks events count as entering into a conspiracy to break one or several laws?

Whatever the circumstances of that flip-flop, from that point forward, Stone pushed several lines — notably the Seth Rich conspiracy — that would be key to Russian disinformation. A big chunk of his SuperPAC funds also spent on “Stop the Steal,” which may also tie to Russian disinformation to discredit the election.

One of the complexities Mueller may have spent months digging through may be whether and how to hold Stone accountable for willfully participation in disinformation supporting Russia’s larger efforts to swing the election to Donald Trump.

In March, when this focused pursuit started, Mueller wanted to know what the President knew about communication between Stone, his associates, Julian Assange, and Wikileaks. Since then, it appears the question has gotten more complex.

And along the way, a key Roger Stone aide has managed to stall three months on providing testimony.

Update: Fixed spelling of Miller’s attorney’s last name to Dearn.

29 replies
  1. NorskieFlamethrower says:

    Are they gunna try and push this through the appellate courts to SCOTUS? If so, does that endanger the entire shootin’ match if SCOTUS tosses the subpeonas? And if it does go through the appeals process does that push this part of the investigation beyond November?

    • NorskieFlamethrower says:

      And if it’s expedited to SCOTUS before the 9th seat is filled then would 4-4 be enough to uphold the lower courts?

  2. Peterr says:

    Challenging a subpoena is one thing, but simply blowing it off? How are Deam and Miller not sitting next to Manafort in a cell somewhere?

    • orionATL says:

      yeah. that’s the question and the answer is fascinating to contemplate. the mueller team have certainly been extremely tolerant of miller’s dodging. is this due to a weak cause to subpoena, to hope to entice miller to co-operate, or least likely to a weakness in mueller’s legal foundation?

      speaking out of personal imagination only, i think the stone involvement of most interest would involve stone having talked to trump (and maybe priorly to some russians or their proxies) and helped arrange the hiring of his former associate paul manafort with the prospect already in mind in, say, february, 2016 of getting russian assistance in the ongoing republican primary campaign and subsequently in the presidential campaign against clinton. trump then hired manafort in march 2016 and engaged in negotiations with “the russians” leading up to the june 9, 2016 handshake and thence to the full russian-and-republican onslaught of july-november 2016.

      ol’ rog may not have been thus involved, but he is perfectly capable of having done so.

      • orionATL says:

        the paragraph above keeps the action moving but leaves out a critical connection, to whit, that of the trump campaign to the russian government. that connection hinges on paul manafort.

        paul manafort had a long connection with the russia-oriented politicians of the ukraine and, one assumes, with russian government officials. manafort also had a long-time emoyee, konstantin kilimnik, who is said to have had a connection with russian military intelligence, the GRU. it was the gru which, at about the same time as manafort was hired by trump, began to steal files from democratic party organizations in the u. s., i. e., around march 2016. i believe the recent mueller indictment of russian gru (military) hackers also asserts that the gru is responsible for the creation of the ongline anti-clinton social media robots, “gucifer 2.0” and “d. c. leaks”. the connection with wikileaks and their release of dem docs at dem convention time was in my view also a connected oppo-act.

        it doesn’t take much imagination to conclude that paul manafort was the critical go-between that got things going that made trump our president.

      • orionATL says:

        finally, and by no means inconsequentially in my mind, manafort’s long-time factotum rick gates stayed with the trump campaign, even traveling on the candidates’ plane, from the time manafort was let-go as campaign manager in august, 2016 until election day in november. i would like to know why gates was retained. what were his responsibilies during that time? serving as the campaign communication line to manafort would be my guess.

  3. Rob says:

    Hi Marcy,

    Could you share what level of concern you have with how Judge Friedrich might rule, here? Is this as potentially dangerous for Mueller as it seems? What would be the recourse should she rule that Mueller’s appointment was in fact out of bounds?

    Thanks so much for all you’re doing, your work is incredible.

    • emptywheel says:

      It would be remarkable if she did rule for Concord. She’d have to accept their facts over Mueller’s, go against the Chief Judge in her District and another respected colleague, plus Ellis in EDVA, and she’d have to ignore both circuit and SCOTUS precedent.

      My guess is she writes an opinion that says they may be right but Nixon binds her. It’s the way she can do the most damage without totally making a mockery of herself as a judge. But who knows?

      • Rob says:

        Thanks for the response! You make me feel better, but I agree that at the end of the day, who knows what is going to happen.

        Its interesting that Kristin Davis has already been scheduled for a Grand Jury appointment. Seems a little soon given she just had her voluntary interview with Mueller’s team. Feels like we’re moving to an action against Roger sometime soon. In the next few weeks, maybe?

        Like you say: who knows. It does feel like we’re getting there, though.

  4. Frank Probst says:

    I think it would be difficult to prove that Roger Stone understands just about anything.  I would probably give him reasonable doubt about understanding that water is wet.  Every time I’ve seen him on television, it looks like he’s not completely there.

    Andrew Miller is someone who really hasn’t been on my radar.  But simply not showing up for a grand jury appearance and still being a free man tells me that he’s a rich white person.  The sense of entitlement here is staggering.  And his first lawyer (Deam) was either incompetent or actively participating in his efforts to dodge the grand jury.  It’s one thing to contact prosecutors and say you can’t find your client, or he’s not returning your messages, or he’s just refusing to show up.  It’s quite another to say that you’re going to report back to prosecutors and then fail to do so.  The amount of restraint that Mueller has shown with respect to these idiots is surprising to me, particularly toward attorneys who are representing their clients and not acting in good faith.

    • orionATL says:

      ignoring a prosecutor’s request for so long is remarkable, even foolhardy – unless you know you have a lot of political/legal power behind you. i’ll bet mueller & co. know something we don’t about why miller has thus far avoided the auto-da-fe.

  5. Rusharuse says:

    Everything is awesome!

    Is Roger Stone really a Lego man? Smooth skin, strange hairline, suits by Mattel. Connections everywhere! Click to join with Middleton, clickety- click to lock on to Mah-newchin, clickety-click-click and “odd things” fit together . .



  6. Bob Conyers says:

    Is it possible Nunberg is right in a limited way – Mueller has the evidence to indict Stone on the conspiracy charges – but there is also a separate set of issues he’s pursuing?

    It seems possible the Kristin Davis interview implies there is another ball of wax Mueller is poking at. When Stone says she has nothing to do with Wikileaks etc., he may be telling a constricted truth, and she’s tied up in a completely different set of schemes involving Stone and possibly Trump or others.

  7. Strawberry Fields says:

    Not quite on topic, but it always bothers me when the media repeats the Don Jr line “the meeting was a dud” on the premise they didnt deliver dirt during the meeting.

    Its clearly misdirection. The Don Jr specifically asked for the dirt to be delivered late summer… not at the meeting.

    “If it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer.”

    The Russians delivered exactly on Don Jr timeline “late summer” and Mike Flynn was caught red handed trying to drop sanctions which is what the meeting was about.

    Wheres the dud?

  8. Mitch Neher says:

    Can we still call Stone a ratfucker? And all of his former assistants and associates–ratfuckers, one and all. Please? The word ratfucker must be preserved for posterity in its original denotation–preferably with pictures of Stone and his ratfucking crew alongside the entry in The OED.

  9. Rapier says:

    Rightly or wrongly I’ve always thought of Stone as a con man, of the Frank Abagnale variety. Not in the sense of a master forger or impersonator of pilots and doctors and lawyers but in the sense of his ability to insert himself into the world of big money rightest politics, at the shadiest level, as a player. Doing it not just for the money but for the sheer fun of it. A profoundly amoral actor, in a literal sense. His life as a performance.

    • Trip says:

      I think he is both a con but also a ratfucker. Aren’t ratfuckers are form of con anyway? He (and Miller) got away with the pedophilia flyers (in article below), because no one could prove who specifically wrote them.

      Roger Stone wants to be a rock star and loves attention.

      Roger Stone Aide Andrew Miller Revealed as Witness After Mueller Issues Grand Jury Subpoena


      • orionATL says:

        in my view, roger stone is a born ratfucker in equal parts because he has no conscience whatever, and because he is of a fanatic personality – in his case a political fanatic, just like any sports fanatic or any of the trump fanatics we see today.

        from miss wiki:

        “… In the first grade, Stone claims, he broke into politics to further John F. Kennedy’s presidential campaign: “I remember going through the cafeteria line and telling every kid that Nixon was in favor of school on Saturdays … It was my first political trick.”[29]

        When he was a junior and vice president of the student government at a high school in northern Westchester County, New York, he manipulated the ouster of the president and succeeded him. Stone recalled how he ran for election as president for his senior year:

        I built alliances and put all my serious challengers on my ticket. Then I recruited the most unpopular guy in the school to run against me. You think that’s mean? No, it’s smart.[30]

        Given a copy of Barry Goldwater’s The Conscience of a Conservative, Stone became a convert to conservatism as a child and a volunteer in Goldwater’s 1964 campaign. In 2007, Stone indicated that he was a staunch conservative but with libertarian leanings.[29]

        As a student at George Washington University in 1972, Stone invited Jeb Magruder to speak at a Young Republicans Club meeting, then asked Magruder for a job with Richard Nixon’s storied Committee to Re-elect the President (“CREEP”).[31] Magrduer agreed and Stone then left college to work for the committee.[32]
        1970s: Nixon campaign, Watergate and Reagan 1976Edit
        Stone’s political career began in earnest on 1972 Nixon campaign with activities such as contributing money to a possible rival of Nixon in the name of the Young Socialist Alliance—then slipping the receipt to the Manchester Union-Leader. He also hired a spy in the Hubert Humphrey campaign who became Humphrey’s driver. According to Stone, during the day he was officially a scheduler in the Nixon campaign, but “By night, I’m trafficking in the black arts. Nixon’s people were obsessed with intelligence.”[33] Stone maintains he never did anything illegal during Watergate.[32]
        After Nixon won the 1972 presidential election, Stone worked for the administration in the Office of Economic Opportunity. After Nixon resigned, Stone went to work for Bob Dole, but was later fired after columnist Jack Anderson publicly identified Stone as a Nixon ‘dirty trickster’.[34]
        In 1975, Stone helped to found National Conservative Political Action Committee, a New Right organization that helped to pioneer Independent expenditure political advertising.[35]
        In 1976, he worked in Ronald Reagan’s campaign for president, and in 1977, became national chairman of the Young Republicans…. “

  10. Geoff says:

    I don’t recall that he has, but this would make sense since they are shifting to the “collusion is not a crime” narrative, so they just admit the collusion and meeting with a foreign power for intel. They realize they noose is getting tighter, and the previous lines of defense won’t work so they just move the goalposts. The lies along the way just look really bad. You can see the coverup unfolding before your eyes. I don’t know how any of these morons sleep at night. But perhaps they will sleep better in a jail cell.

Comments are closed.