Why Have Roger Stone and Trump Hidden Their Ongoing Joint Defense “Collusion”?

Donald Trump is happy to admit that he’s a potential criminal co-defendant with a whole slew of (37!!) shady characters, up to and including (perhaps especially) the guy who worked for his campaign for “free” while apparently being handled by a current-or-former GRU officer. He even recently added the far right’s greatest serial fabulist Jerome Corsi to his omertà. But his lifelong political advisor, Roger Stone, is allegedly not in it.

Stone recently told WaPo he’s not in a JDA with Corsi or anyone else in this investigation, which would seem to necessarily include Trump.

Stone, who recently brought a new defense attorney onto his legal team, said he does not have a joint defense agreement with Corsi or anyone else who is involved in the investigation.

Nevertheless, Stone was on ABC yesterday (in a horrible — for him — appearance that I’ll return to) denying that he has or would ever ask Trump for a pardon, the kind of pardon comment that people who have been floated pardons keep invoking.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You say you’re always going to be loyal to President Trump. If you’re indicted or convicted, do you expect that he’ll pardon you?

STONE: First of all, generally speaking in politics, you avoid hypothetical questions. That said, there’s no circumstance under which I would testify against the president because I’d have to bear false witness against him. I’d have to make things up and I’m not going to do that. I’ve had no discussion regarding a pardon.

That comment may or many not have been one of the things (as well as detail of Cohen’s cooperation against Trump) that set Trump off this morning.

A number of smart lawyers (including George Conway and Neal Katyal) argue that this Tweet, even beyond Trump’s normal efforts, may constitute witness tampering.

So to sum up: unlike Trump’s 37 other potential co-conspirators, he — Trump’s longtime political advisor and a lifelong ratfucker — Stone claims that he’s not in a JDA, but won’t testify against Trump out of the goodness of his own heart.

I find that all very interesting against the context of a recent WaPo article about how (and how frequently) Stone and Trump spoke during the campaign.

In recent months, the Trump Organization turned over to Mueller’s team phone and contact logs that show multiple calls between the then-candidate and Stone in 2016, according to people familiar with the material.

The records are not a complete log of their contacts — Stone told The Washington Post on Wednesday that Trump at times called him from other people’s phones.

Stone said he never discussed WikiLeaks with Trump and diminished the importance of any phone records, saying “unless Mueller has tape recordings of the phone calls, what would that prove?”

Stone and WikiLeaks have denied collaborating with each other, and Stone has decried the Mueller investigation as a “political witch hunt” to punish him for supporting Trump.

Trump has told his lawyers — and last week said in written answers to Mueller — that Stone did not tell him about WikiLeaks’ upcoming release and that he had no prior knowledge of it, according to people familiar with his responses.

After a period, by Stone’s admission, Stone and Trump communicated via cut-outs.

From January through March 2016, Stone said he had a cellphone number for Trump. But he said the phone number got into too many hands, and Trump’s staff changed it. After that, a pattern developed for their calls, Stone said: Trump would call Stone from a blocked number or from the phones of associates or campaign aides.

“He would initiate the calls,” Stone said. “I didn’t call him.”

Once, Stone said, he answered his iPhone because the caller ID said he was getting a call from Christopher Ruddy, a Trump friend who is the CEO of Newsmax, a conservative television network. But the voice on the line was Trump’s.

“I believe there was one time when he asked me to call Roger,” Ruddy said in an interview Wednesday, adding that he did not believe “there was any discussion related to Russians or improper activities.”

The calls from Trump came at odd hours, Stone said, because Trump “gets almost no sleep.” Trump usually wanted to get a sense of how the campaign was going, Stone said, or just to “touch base.” Stone sometimes offered suggestions, but often he could barely get a word in.

Perhaps in response to Stone’s ABC appearance, Rick Wilson tweeted that he had alerted Mueller about an on-going back channel between Stone and Trump.

Stone recently made Bruce Rogow his lead attorney on these matters. Rogow has represented Trump Organization in various disputes over the years (including one that will elicit scrutiny in NY State’s lawsuit against the Trump Foundation.

In 1992, Rogow represented former KKK leader David Duke in a case brought by the ACLU to have Duke reinstated on the Florida Republican presidential primary ballot.

Those still traumatized by the 2000 election recount might recall Rogow representingTheresa LePore, the Palm Beach county election official responsible for the area’s butterfly ballots.


Rogow began to pick up more cases for the Trump Organization.


Rogow represented Trump in a federal complaint that arose from the case, arguing that the town ordinances “unconstitutionally restrict its ability to fly a large American flag at Mar-a-Lago.”

Trump eventually settled the case, agreeing to move the flag inwards on his property and pay $100,000 to an Iraq War veterans’ charity in exchange for the town waiving its fines.

The donation was made, but not by Trump himself or Mar-a-Lago — rather, the Trump Foundation gave the $100,000. That donation has now become one part of a New York State Attorney general’s lawsuit against the charity.

Call me crazy, but all this suggests that Stone and Trump are in as close touch as — say — Manafort and Trump, but for some reason, Stone and Trump are working harder at hiding their ongoing ties.

That would be truly remarkable. It would say an association with Stone — and whatever it is Mueller seems to know he did during the election — is even more toxic than Trump’s ties with a guy apparently being handled by a GRU officer.


58 replies
  1. Trip says:

    George Conway‏ @gtconway3d

    File under “18 U.S.C. §§ 1503, 1512”

    (George Conway Retweeted Donald J. Trump)
    Donald J. Trump‏Verified account @realDonaldTrump

    “I will never testify against Trump.” This statement was recently made by Roger Stone, essentially stating that he will not be forced by a rogue and out of control prosecutor to make up lies and stories about “President Trump.” Nice to know that some people still have “guts!”


    • Trip says:

      As a side note, I also agree with this, which I’ve mentioned before:
      bmaz‏ @bmaz

      George Conway is the exact leader of the craven Federalist Society that has, for decades, led this nation down the rabbit hole of “conservatism” and end product of Trumpism. The damage from their “activism” will exist for decades. He is not to be celebrated, but scorned.


  2. Rugger9 says:

    The problem for Stone and Kaiser Quisling is that it is very likely Mueller has those recordings if for no other reason that Stone’s “friends” being under surveillance for one reason or another.

    I’ve seen it mentioned in the MSM and elsewhere here that those who have not been summoned for a chat with the OSC are likely targets. It will be interesting to see who throws the other one under the bus first when the point of no return is reached. Paulie’s hoping for a pardon (maybe, but why let all the assets go first?) and Stone probably is too. I would not be surprised if Mueller and Stone have a history as well, though I would have expected Stone the rat fornicator to have whined about such things by now.

  3. pseudonymous in nc says:

    Decades of impunity is a heckuva drug. As with Paulie the Rug, I get the feeling that the special counsel’s office would very much like Ratfucker Rog to get the full ton o’bricks.

    To me, though, the ABC appearance and this morning’s light witness tampering feels like a dare: the two of them are obviously hand-in-glove outside of conventional legal agreements, but can you prove it? And if you can prove it, can you do so in ways that can go in an indictment or somewhere else on the docket? It’s hiding in plain sight, in a way that may be intended as a threat or to force Mueller’s hand: the ratfucker’s fate is so wrapped up with King Stupid’s that you can’t go after the one without going after the other at the same time.

    • BobCon says:

      It’s possible they have the goods on both in unrelated cases, though, and the issue they’re working on currently is putting together a case in Mueller key area of Russian interference in the election.

      We may be at a point where the main game is trying to confuse the public and the media into thinking that the sole issue they’re facing is the Russian conspiracy, and maybe somehow try to taint a prosecution for any other issue. That might work for Stone if his crimes are somewhat modest, but I suspect for Trump the final roll call will be ugly no matter what.

  4. earlofhuntingdon says:

    If Stone ever anticipated having adverse interests with Trump, why would he want a guy who made his bones as a lawyer for Trump?  Sharing a lawyer, in effect, could mean they don’t need a formal JDA to keep tabs on each other’s defense.  If Rogow isn’t formally representing both clients, though, any communications with a non-client would void privilege about them.  That’s walking a fine line.

    As you say, this looks like Stone and Trump remain joined at the hip.

    • Charles says:

      Sharing a lawyer, in effect, could mean they don’t need a formal JDA to keep tabs on each other’s defense.

      I would hope some of the lawyers on the thread will weigh in on this. I always thought it was unethical for lawyers to talk about any client except by express permission. When one adds to such a disclosure witness tampering or any of many crimes that could be involved in coordinating testimony with a pardon. I would think that only a Mob lawyer or equivalent would risk it. Rogow’s representation of David Duke might be consistent with that, but I know nothing about the man.

      And, no, Marcy, I would never call it crazy to suspect criminal behavior by this crowd. They are so far down the rabbit hole already that we’ve heard Trump shouting “chop off their heads”  for months now.

    • bmaz says:

      There are some serious ethical issues. But what party with standing will bring them? And can they do it in a different jurisdiction than DC, where the local bar has no bar for US Govt lawyers?

    • posaune says:

      I know this goes to oh-s0-naiive, but I keep hoping that at some point, Trump will throw Roger under the bus.    Could it really be that he would throw Uday but not Roger?   Really?

  5. CCM says:

    The NSA likely has recordings of all phone calls between Russians of interest and any US resident. May have US to US calls as well depending on how their buffer system is configured. Any lawyer types know about Mueller’s access to NSA database?

  6. Tommy D Cosmology says:

    Did you hear Corsi’s interview on MSNBC w/ Ari Melber on Friday (available on podcast)? He said that his Joint Defense Agreement “…was not in writing, but things have been verbally communicated between Trump’s lawyers and his.” What does that mean “not in writing” if it is a JDA?

  7. Trip says:

    How do you pronounce this guy’s last name? Anyway, I read it the way I read it:

    Matthew Kupfer‏Verified account @Matthew_Kupfer

    Interesting. @JoshKovensky reports that Trump met at least twice w/ Ukrainian-Russian oligarch Pavel Fuchs (a Giuliani client) over Trump Moscow franchising deal in late 2000s. (Also explains why Giuliani was cavorting around Kharkiv, #Ukraine last year).


    Oligarch, friend of Trump: Who is Pavel Fuchs?

  8. Rugger9 says:

    So, as to why this was going one we have the teensy problem of sanctions against Russian government entities since 2014 when the Moscow Tower project was being negotiated in 2015 and 2016.  No wonder Kaiser Quisling wants things kept secret, but I suspect that since he has outlived his usefulness as Putin’s tool and Pence is also (ahem) pliable under pressure, look for a change shortly under 25th Amendment rules and the floating of the “bipartisan healing” plan Schumer would go for in cahoots with McTurtle.  I don’t think Pelosi will go for it, though.


  9. JD12 says:

    The hack-and-leak and overall disinformation campaign is right up Stone’s alley, a lot more than Manafort’s. Stone likes to boast about helping Kennedy win his school’s election by telling the other kids that Nixon wanted school on Saturdays. (Evidently his Nixon obsession didn’t start until he worked for Nixon’s campaign.) He’s been doing this stuff for decades and has never been shy about it. Manafort undoubtedly planned to cash in from his position and was likely aware of it, but the disinformation campaign has Stone written all over it.

  10. Rusharuse says:

    Trump and Pence are dirty – speaker of the house is next in line (of succession).
    President Pelosi come April! . . Anyone?

    • Bruce Stewart says:

      I’ve been wondering about the implications of this for Mueller. He stayed squeaky clean by holding still until after not only the elections but also after the runoff in Alabama was decided.

      So if Mueller has the goods on Pence, does he move against him sooner, giving T the chance to name a new VP (in which case House Dems have a say)? Or later?  Seems to me Mueller could not avoid having a partisan impact in that (hypothetical) situation.

  11. somecallmetim says:

    LOL – “Nixon will make you go to school on Saturday” was fake news at my grade school in Oregon, too!

  12. earlofhuntingdon says:

    I agree with the recent derisive comments about Chuck Schumer.  His Senate office recently advertised for “an unpaid intern” to work in press relations. Unpaid.

    Schumer has almost the biggest office budget on the Hill.  He has a war chest that’s as big as Trump’s ego.  He has campaign donations from Wall Street’s finest coming out his ying yang.  But he can’t stump up enough to pay minimum wage for someone to read and write draft press releases.  Rather, he wants to limit intern applicants to wealthy young things with the looks and social skills who might improve his rusted image.

    Chuck should read and write his own press releases.  He’s not doing much else to promote Democratic interests in the Senate.

    The Democrats have yet to learn that competent leaders walk the talk, in this case, about equality, fair pay and fair play.  Chuck Schumer is unlikely ever to learn the lesson.  It’s one of many reasons he needs to be replaced at the next election.

    • Avattoir says:

      So, replaced by the same caucus that’s full of members for whom he raises millions in campaign funds & other ‘opportunities’, which, over the years he’s been in the Senate, totals a sum running into the hundreds of millions?

      • orionATL says:

        nancy pelosi has done the same in the house. hillary clinton spent some of her 2016 campaign doing the same for dem candidates.good for them all.

        we seem to forget that teevee advertising is not free (though it should be); that get out the vote costs money. even tonight in georgia on the eve of the final showdown, dems are using a system called “hustle” to sent text messages to voters for tommorrow’s showdown over georgia secretartary of state.

        what does each hustle text cost? $0.30 each. multiply that by each 100k voters you contact.

        politics is not free! not yet. but it should be. and borne by the corporations who benefit from a stable, predictable economy and government.

    • punaise says:

      Yes, new blood please!

      Idle speculation: Scrolling down the list of Senate seniority (clearly not the only determinant of minority or majority leader),  one to pass by several dinosaurs – Feinstein, Leahy, and arguably the Murray-Wyden-Durbin-Reed cohort above Schumer –  to come up with any credible candidates. Then exclude those with potential 2020 White House ambitions (Brown, Warren, Booker, Harris). Maybe Klobuchar or Merkley? Stabenow or Cantwell? Not sure who’s got the leadership chops. Van Hollen probably shares Chuck’s institutional timidity?

      This is kind of a pointless parlor game I suppose.


    • orionATL says:

      i don’t want to get into a debate about schumer whom, i consider to be, like lindsay graham, a “pure politician”, but as for internships, i can guarantee you that an unpaid internship with a valued member of senate or house is worth its weight in gold to a competent, industrious recipient. that unpaid work, upon proof of competence, turns into a job and that job can turn over time into multiple other opportunities to work at high levels of american national and state politics. for an analogy, i suppose being an (unpaid) supreme court clerk might do. but clerking seems a more or less static activity while being a valued political soldier opens door after door for action and observation.

      • punaise says:

        Rather, he wants to limit intern applicants to wealthy young things with the looks and social skills who might improve his rusted image.

        Therein lies the rub. It perpetuates privilege. Trust fund babies and even upper-middle class kids supported by parents can afford this investment; others, not so much.

        • orionATL says:

          you really don’t know what you are talking about. you are just blathering, perpetuating a stereotype. the opportunity i know about personally (and i suspect you do not) does not do that.

          • cat herder says:

            You are exactly right. Grocery stores are required by law to give free food to kids doing unpaid internships. It’s not a hardship at all.

          • earlofhuntingon says:

            Then I’ll let you bring up the issue at the next Schumer staff meeting.  Because the optics of the leading Senate Democrat doing this shit are verwee, verwee bad.

        • koolmoe says:

          Working in education, I agree totally. Unpaid internships automatically exclude a segment of the pool – those who don’t live in the immediate area, can’t afford daily transportation, can’t afford to eat in the high-priced location, and must work-for-pay to keep even a roof over their heads. I had an unpaid internship; thank goodness I had a mostly reliable car and could live with my grandmother. Regardless of how valuable the internship is, none should be entirely unpaid.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Why do you think they are unpaid, then?  It’s not because their wonderful patrons have the juice to make them work for free and take advantage of it.  There is that, but neither Mr. Schumer nor any other legislator is running a charitable enterprise.

        These valuable internships – and similar ones among the corporate elite – remain unpaid so as to limit the talent pool to those that can afford to work for free.  Meritocracy at work, or rather communism for the elite.

        A key issue that Democrats need to pay attention to is work, work that pays enough to live on without needing public assistance.  These jobs on the Hill set a very public example.  Free-to-the-employer work drives down the cost of paid work and reduces paid employment.

        Schumer just undercut his ability to criticize American employers – some of whom are among the most profitable businesses in the world, and don’t need added profit from accepting free labor – because Schumer is doing the same thing.

        • orionATL says:

          this is just ideological crap. anybody with a credit card and and an aunt and uncle or boyfriend’s parents, et al, in the d.c. area can take advantage of the opportunity. the best oppportunities are in the offices of the congresscritter who represents your home district in ohio, california, texas, mass… it’s been done. if you haven’t seen it happen, you don’t know what you are talking about.

              • Trip says:

                Okay, so someone carrying heavy student debt should then carry more debt for a “job”, as one example? That’s if they qualify for more credit.

                And as far as the “Critique no Democrat because we have Trump”, what the hell is wrong with asking for paid internships to broaden the scope of people who can participate in politics, from a young age? It’s a very dangerous perspective to think that “asks” of the Democrats are too much because you fear the Republicans. And yes, it is elitist to suggest that everyone who might be good in an internship can afford the luxuries of credit card debt and extended family flop-housing.

                • bmaz says:

                  I’d suggest that the answer is both. It doesn’t have to facilitate the elite and wealthy, but it usually does. And this has been going on forever, it is not exactly a new scandal for Schumer. That said, I’d certainly be in favor of a federal minimum wage for anyone working a Congressional office. That would be a good thing. Though, to be fair, it would still favor the elite and wealthy, because it is likely impossible to live in DC on bare minimum wage.

                  • Trip says:

                    But at least in that case, multiple interns could pool resources and live together, with combined funding. Still very, very difficult in DC, but less difficult than interns pooling nothing.

                    • bmaz says:

                      Maybe, maybe not. I once seriously thought about going to DC with a longtime family friend. It would have been a paid position. I did the numbers, and it would have killed my family to do so, even if I went alone. I don’t think most of America understands the price of such “service”.

                    • Trip says:

                      Therein lies the inability for politicians to really connect with constituency, and to have a grasp on the real economy, not the one touted by those who own all of the stocks. (but you know that).

          • orionATL says:

            i am getting increasingly tired of listening to “theoretical” democrats blather about other democrats while the republican party, under the benighted president donald trump whom these fastidious dems helped elevate to the presidency, runs the table in destroying a system of all of us caring for and about all of us – social security, civil rights, medicare, aca, food stamps, voting rights, headstart – which was begun 80 years ago.

            and while relatively non-ideological democrats with a very wide range of tolerance for other democrats’ views do all the heavy lifting that put the republican party on the defensive in november, 2018.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            Your suggestion would multiply the number of people paying to subsidize not the intern, but the congressional and corporate employers who demand that their interns work for free because they have the market power to demand it.  Your comment also demonstrates how communism – communal aid – works.  But it ignores how it works on the Hill – and for America’s largest businesses.

            • orionATL says:

              1. market power has nothing to do with any of this. it is simply a matter of the power to make up rules in a closed power system (the congress).

              2. as for congresscritters, they do not need “intern subsidies” to survive or to do very well. they are routinely subsidized by corporate and hyper-rich members of our society😃.

              3. “all caring for all” etc., has nothing whatever to do with “communism”, it is the fundamental principle on which local and state government (and probably our initial federal gov which was small enough at the time to be functionally a state gov) was founded in this country.

                • orionATL says:

                  since we’re trading insults, “communism” was your choice of terms, not mine and you left its meaning to be guessed at by others. care to be more specific in the context?

                  as for market power for trusted staff in a small, specialized “market” like the congress, it does not exist. the factors governing hiring are largely human relations factors, not supply of talents (x,y) and demand for same. this may apply all the way down the labor chain to receptionists for all i know.

                • earlofhuntingdon says:

                  My comments were directed at yours, not you.

                  In a narrow sense, the market is for entry-level jobs with high-end employers, which have tremendous prestige and power.  Association with these employers is considered highly desirable, making those who have it more “marketable.”

                  Well-heeled governments and private corporations which obtain employee services for free are abusing their most vulnerable employees as surely as any worker at an Amazon warehouse is abused.

                  My use of “communism” is adapted from Hedges, Zinn and Chomsky.  They use it colloquially when criticizing elites, who favor communal support within their narrow in-groups – calling it legacy admissions or what have you.  Those elites deride such behavior in others, however, just as they deride competing social groups when they adopt the social networking behaviors that they are devoted to.

                  In their hands, words like communism and socialism become generic insults, such as when they mislabel the centrist capitalist Obama and mildly left of center Elizabeth Warren as “socialist.”  The words aren’t meant to be accurate, they aren’t, they are meant to be social markers defining in and out groups.

        • AitchD says:

          I figure these Congress members need to have unpaid staff owing to what happened to Cyril Wecht in early 2006 and then John Conyers after the 2006 midterms returned control to the Democrats. Wecht, the Allegheny County, PA, coroner, was indicted on federal charges for misusing taxpayer funds, as he had asked a staff member to drive here or there for alleged unofficial business. Conyers, we recall, in 2006 had issued the HJC minority report that detailed many of Bush’s impeachable actions and behavior. In late 2006, the FBI interviewed Conyers about a staff person’s allegation that Conyers had used the staff person to pick up his dry cleaning or do some such errand, i.e., criminal misuse of taxpayer funds for personal use. Of course, Conyers knew about Wecht’s issues, and, well, Conyers somehow got away with an official ethical wrist slap. And then impeachment was “off the table”, and then Bush could call back the fleet rushing towards Iran.

  13. punaise says:

    @ orionATL: December 3, 2018 at 11:17 pm

    Well, I’ve never interned (paid or unpaid) for a legislator or judge, so in the narrowest sense you’re right: I literally do not know what I’m talking about based on direct personal experience.

    I don’t think that excludes anyone from having a reasonably informed opinion, however.

    I benefited from a professional education paid for by upperish-middle class parents (back when it was affordable), including a life-changing year of study abroad that included … wait for it … unpaid / underpaid work in design firms. And our daughter, currently in law school, could certainly cobble together the resources (with our help and that of her soon to be M.D. hubby) to “invest” in her future in DC if the opportunity arose.

    Why should it be difficult or taboo for those of us who’ve had it relatively easy in life to acknowledge the inherent advantages of such privilege, with a correspondingly steeper slope for those who don’t have the same resources or societal advantages?
    – – –

    But more importantly: Klobuchar or Tester? :~)

    • orionATL says:

      the fact is, everyone commenting in this section on schumer’s ad, myself excluded, was commenting on a worthwhile matter – the u.s. congress has a long history of self-dealing in which it gives itself privileges and options not availabble to any other american citizens. getting intern help for free was one of the less troublesome ones, but it was a taking advantage of.

      i intervened here with another viewpoint on unpaid internships, that they actually have their use and can be helpful to young people who take advantage of them.

      had i left matters there it would just have been a matter of opinion, but i did not. i aggressively pursued my opinion which proved destructive of a useful conversation. i am sorry for that.

      the use of this conversation, minus my input, is that the congress including the politically-sensitive sen. schumer is now very worried about what e of h called the “optics” of matters like taking advantage of interns. thus, now is the perfect time to put pressure on the congress to reform many of its practices. one sees this effort in the activity to force speaker pelosi to change some of the house rules. again, after a ferment like the november 2018 election is the perfect time to try to force change on an institution like the house or senate.

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