Stone v NYT: The Treachery of Dueling Incomplete Stories

Both Roger Stone and the NYT have dueling stories out, both falling far short of what they need to tell us about a set of emails sent the first week of October 2016 between Breitbart editor Matthew Boyle, his former boss turned Trump campaign chair Steve Bannon, and Roger Stone.

Neither outlet shows the email addresses or tells us what domains Bannon and Stone were using (Boyle seems to have sent at least one of these emails from his Breitbart account). That’s a huge part of the story given that, earlier this week, Stone denied to the WaPo discussing WikiLeaks with Trump campaign officials.

Stone denied discussing WikiLeaks with Trump campaign officials.

“There are no such communications, and if Bannon says there are he would be dissembling,” he said.

Plus, if Bannon used a non-campaign address to communicate with Boyle and/or Stone, it would suggest an effort to distance his ties to the two from the official campaign business (and might suggest Mueller had to have gone through extra effort to obtain these emails).

The NYT doesn’t provide times for the emails it presents (which is especially problematic because it bolloxes the timing of Stone’s tweets, most notably by using the UTC time for them and therefore showing a tweet he sent late the night of October 1 as being sent on October 2).

And while Stone at least provided the times of the emails he published, he somehow put London’s time zone behind the US (which I’ll treat as an editing error and note he was surely rushing to beat the NYT to press, which he did).

Assange held a press event Oct. 2 (Oct. 3 U.S. time) and did not release any documents that day as had been widely expected, Bannon e-mailed me asking why.

Plus, both ignore a key part of events of early October, the first reports that Mueller witness Jerome Corsi and Roger Stone wrote up from the Podesta emails leaked that week, which was based off a story that Bannon himself had originated. NYT’s accompanying story which details that Mueller has raised questions about Stone’s dark money funds, doesn’t address Stone’s Stop the Steal fund, which engaged in voter suppression, meaning Stone may be deliberately misdirecting again.

Mueller’s investigators have also delved into the operations of Mr. Stone’s political organizations. Mr. Stone has said investigators are examining a nonprofit educational fund called the Committee for American Sovereignty Education Fund, which he said produced a film alleging that former President Bill Clinton fathered an illegitimate child, a favorite theme of Mr. Stone’s.

The organization bills itself as a nonprofit social welfare organization that has been designated by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)(4) group. But there is no indication in I.R.S. records that it has that status.

Mr. Stone’s Oct. 4, 2016, email to Mr. Bannon suggested another reason prosecutors might be interested in the fund. Asking the campaign to promote his theory of an illegitimate son of Mr. Clinton, he wrote: “I’ve raised $150K for the targeted black digital campaign through a C-4,” he wrote.

“Tell Rebecca to send us some $$$,” Mr. Stone added, apparently referring to Rebekah Mercer, a wealthy Republican donor close to Mr. Bannon. There is no indication that Mr. Bannon replied to him or sought out Ms. Mercer, and it is unclear whether Mr. Stone’s solicitation, alone, violated federal election laws. Mr. Stone said he was referring to a campaign targeting African-American voters.

In short, the stories, sourced to Bannon and maybe Sam Nunberg on one side and Stone on the other, really don’t tell us what Mueller’s after here. But they do provide a bunch of shitholes an opportunity to explain away a suspicious exchange without addressing known issues with them.

What these stories do show is that on October 3 (it appears to be after Stone’s tweet claiming “total confidence” that Julian Assange would educate the American people soon) Boyle asked Stone what Assange had coming. “Hope it’s good.”

Stone used that opportunity to try to get to Bannon, by promising that Assange had something good while noting that Bannon “doesn’t call me back” (it’s unclear whether that was in that immediate time period or more generally). “I’ve got important stuff to worry about,” Bannon replied. But Boyle persisted, suggesting it was important for Bannon to know what Assange had coming.

That day, Bannon wrote Stone, “What was that this morning???” Stone explained it as a “Serious security concern,” which reflects what WikiLeaks was playing up in real time, partly exploiting a Hillary comment claimed by True Pundit about droning Assange.

And Stone said WikiLeaks would release something each week, which also parrots what Assange had said.

These competing stories may in fact be an attempt to explain away this email, which includes at least a reference to whether or not Assange had been bribed to stop by Clinton’s people, and a reference to Stone’s efforts to slur Clinton with an accusation of an illegitimate child. (Remember, in this period Michael Cohen was busy paying off a bunch of women to prevent them from going public with stories of their affairs with Trump.)

But that last bit — the “targeted black digital campaign” — is only explained by the NYT as either Stone’s Committee for American Sovereignty Education Fund (he also worked on a RAPE PAC with one of his dark money people, which had a similar goal), which is what Stone claimed it was, or to his PAC, Committee to Restore America’s Greatness.

The other big outlay Stone was making at the time was for his Stop the Steal voter suppression effort (largely via money raised through CRAG and not kept separate from the dark money group). When Stone got in trouble for those voter suppression efforts, Don McGahn helped bail him out, so whether or not the campaign planned to, they did ultimately associate with Stone’s efforts.

In other words, the most damning connotation of that request would pertain to voter suppression, not WikiLeaks.

And, as mentioned, none of this discussion examines the way that Jerome Corsi (before the Podesta emails started coming out) and Stone (relying on the newly released emails but perhaps having had an advance peek at them) recycled Bannon and Rebekah Mercer’s own August attack on Hillary using the newly released emails.

I don’t know what to make of these emails, except to say that a bunch of shitholes are trying to tell stories about them that leave key holes in the story.

33 replies
  1. anon says:

    We know Bannon leaks to the NYT often. That NYT got an email from Bannon saying “I’ve got important stuff to worry about” suggests to me Bannon is covering his ass. And like the rest of Trump world, he’s terrified of what will come from Mueller after November 6.

    I am losing the thread on the Stone story. As Marcy says, Stone’s foreknowledge of Wikileaks dumps isn’t a crime.

    Can someone explain where we are? What is Stone most likely to be charged with, if he were to be indicted?

  2. SpaceLifeForm says:

    Suspect these players all had multiple email accounts (maybe a common domain they all used), and whenever they replied, they BCCed to their other email accounts.

    The alternative is to use same email on multiple devices.

    Which is not likely if they know they are being watched.

    Their opsec is not great either way.

  3. Rusharuse says:

    Duelling emails? Am I to believe that the ratfukka didn’t have Ol Mushroom knob’s cell number, or Jnrs or Paulies? Telephone, SMS, those hangout thingies, surely Mulla must own all their grubby ass’s by now.

  4. Frank Probst says:

    Okay, quick questions from one of the slower minds on here:  Steve Bannon wasn’t exactly this campaign’s shining moral compass.  Why/how is he so confident that he has no legal exposure in any of this?

    • Eureka says:

      One of the legal minds will have to answer your Qs, but I’m not sure Bannon is confident of no legal exposure, as in the WaPo article linked in the post, he is in High Politesse Mode:

      In a statement to The Post on Tuesday, Bannon said: “Mueller’s team has been very professional and courteous. Out of respect for the process, I will not discuss my interviews with them, but people shouldn’t believe everything they read.” William Burck, an attorney for Bannon, declined to comment.

      • Frank Probst says:

        Bannon may be a disgusting human being, but he isn’t stupid.  If you look at everyone involved here, he’s probably the likeliest one who’s told his lawyer everything that he did and is following his lawyer’s advice.  And your lawyer doesn’t let you go testify in front of a grand jury if you’re going to say anything to incriminate yourself in a crime.

  5. NorskieFlamethrower says:

    “Legal exposure”, what is “legal exposure”??!! These pathetic creatures have been swaggering around for 2 1/2 years without a care in the world. They really think that the fix is in and the Russians will never let ‘em see the inside of a jail cell. And maybe they’re right.

    • Frank Probst says:

      Manafort’s in jail awaiting transfer to prison.  Michael Cohen will almost certainly be doing time by the end of the year.  The other four people Mueller’s indicted have all pled guilty to felonies.  I’d say there’s legal risk to be concerned about if the FBI wanted to have me chat with a grand jury here.

      • Trip says:

        I hope he spills all of the beans on the Mercers. It’s about time the big conspirators get netted rather than the penny ante low level grunts.

        (This should have come under your first comment, not this one)

  6. Eureka says:

    Given the above, and considering the ‘Why did Rebekah Mercer…’ and last week’s Podesta emails posts re March 2016 Podesta-RU ties oppo research, is it possible that Bannon is the unnamed non-Nunberg source in this March 2018 Wapo article, claiming Stone spoke of Wikileaks contact and Podesta* mails back in “Spring” of 2016:

    In the spring of 2016, longtime political operative Roger Stone had a phone conversation that would later seem prophetic, according to the person on the other end of the line.
    Stone, an informal adviser to then-candidate Donald Trump, said he had learned from WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange that his organization had obtained emails that would torment senior Democrats such as John Podesta, then campaign chairman for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

    *As seen in quote, it is unclear if Podesta was allegedly directly cited by Stone or if instead authors themselves are ‘such as-ing’

  7. NorskieFlamethrower says:

    I will believe that people particularly all the right people are going to jail for serious time when when any of ‘em end up in club fed for longer than a couple a weeks atta time.. I sure wish I had as much confidence in our justice system as do you

  8. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Listening to Donald Trump plaintively read his speeches tells me who won the auction for Stephen Hawking’s speech computer.

  9. Anthony RT says:

    You helped me make a good deal more sense out of this, partly by showing all the pieces aren’t available


  10. Trip says:

    Stanley Cohen‏ @StanleyCohenLaw

    Whoever, except in cases & under circumstances expressly authorized by Constitution or Act of Congress, willfully uses any part of Army or Air Force as a posse comitatus or otherwise 2 execute the laws shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 2 years, or both

    How can you justify sending troops to the border when the caravan (dangerous or not) will not even be there (miles and miles away)? Trump is a F-face who breaks every law and every standard of decency.

    • Trip says:

      JFC, the military is worried about Trump-incited lunatic militias:
      Migrant Caravan: Border Troops Preparing for Threat of Armed, Unregulated Militias, Leaked Documents Show

      The assessment underscored news reports that combatant commanders might encounter unregulated militia members along the southern border in alleged support of U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents.
      “Estimated 200 unregulated armed militia members currently operating along the southwest border. Reported incidents of unregulated militias stealing National Guard equipment during deployments. They operate under the guise of citizen patrols supporting CBP [Customs and Border Protection] primarily between POEs [Points of Entry],” according to the documents.

      • Kick the darkness says:

        interesting optics if US forces ended up protecting any caravan migrants that make it that far as the border.

  11. pseudonymous in nc says:

    Given the lacunae in the actual content, what’s interesting is the timing. Who is the intended audience for the NYT piece? Is it a signal or is it getting ahead of things that are nailed down for next week. Four bylines (and three contributing reporters) on a main story of 1500 words feels like it’s a prelude to something.

    And Bill Burck continues to represent both Bannon and McGahn.

    • Trip says:

      I wish it was a typical Friday where indictments drop in the afternoon/early evening. None of the people mentioned are running for office, so it wouldn’t technically break with any DOJ tradition.

  12. Kick the darkness says:

    Got to wondering if Rattus humpi like Stone actually vote.  Could see it either way.  If he is indeed in Mueller’s sights, however, this may be his last chance….or at least my assumption is that those that get busted hard in Mueller’s investigation (convicted of felonies like Manafort) have forfeited voting privileges.   Considering Mueller as an agent of disenfranchisement, what about PapaD?  He plead guilty to lying to the FBI, but a brief Google gave me the impression one  does not lose their right to vote for that (crime but not felony).  Is that correct?  Apologies for a one bounce off the turnip cart kind of question, but sort of interesting to think about.

    • bmaz says:

      Oh, the offense Papadapalous and Flynn were convicted of, 18 USC §1001 is indeed a felony level offense.

  13. Trip says:

    I never watch Chris Cuomo, but I happened upon his interview with Stone last night. I guess I never saw him speak live before, but he was impossible to watch, between his odd blinks, prolonged grimaces, general manner of odd facial expressions and head tilts while talking. Anyone else notice this, or was this interview unique, and the facial reactions a tell?

    • Eureka says:

      I didn’t see that interview as I never watch Cuomo, either, but Stone does that all the time.  In Stone’s case, I think it is a combo of his lying, trying to believe his own stories, while (when he can control it) trying to appear to not be lying/trying to throw people off, and a couple of other things that might affect him.

      • Trip says:

        Thanks. I really couldn’t tell, and don’t want to make light of some physical/medical issues he might have. The reason I watched (ever so briefly) was not much else interested me after 12:30 AM. I gave up.

        I know Sarah Huckster-be Sanders has a progressively shutting right eye when she’s deep in the bullshit.

        • Eureka says:

          Yeah, it’s funny how people’s tics are so individualized.  Eye tics make sense; most anatomists view the eyes as externalized brain… plus ‘windows to the soul’-type metaphors.  One thing I also notice when people are trying to force out a ‘story’ is they often force their eyes (and upper face) wide open (against a natural tension to not do so).  I haven’t paid attention to Huckabee, maybe this relates to the shutting rt eye you noticed, or is unrelated.  She is certainly in a different context when she gives her tales, facing a large active audience.  Probably makes a difference, too.

    • Eureka says:

      Lol, if Flake could commission an FBI “investigation” time machine in time to get his registration changed, he’d vote hard yes.

        • Eureka says:

          There’s always time.

          I’m pondering the physics of all this, but I got sent back to a DeVos-sanctioned charter school, so have some shortcomings in that area.

  14. Thomas says:

    Something that disturbs me:
    These teasers by Stone and his wacko crackpots about the emails…they became stories alleging wrongdoing by the Clinton Foundation….and supposedly these stories were “proven” by the emails…and Trump supporters kept chanting “lock her up” in response to these stories…and yet, no proof of any wrongdoing by the Clinton Foundation.
    Not in the emails. Or anywhere.
    And “Clinton Cash” claims were thoroughly checked out by the FBI and…nada.
    The nerve of these Trump operatives. They are creators of fake news, and they accuse the media of being fake news.
    I’m good with Mueller, or anyone else finding any reason at all to prosecute Stone. Lock him up.

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