Roger Stone’s Remarkable Interest in Donald Trump’s Foreign Policy

On April 22, 2016, Maggie Haberman broke the news that Donald Trump would give a foreign policy speech. As she reported, the speech was scheduled to be held at the National Press Club and would be hosted by the Center for National Interest, a group that once had ties to the Richard Nixon Library.

Donald J. Trump will deliver his first foreign policy address at the National Press Club in Washington next week, his campaign said, at an event hosted by an organization founded by President Richard M. Nixon.

The speech, planned for lunchtime on Wednesday, will be Mr. Trump’s first major policy address since a national security speech last fall.

The speech will be hosted by the Center for the National Interest, formerly known as the Nixon Center, and the magazine it publishes, The National Interest, according to a news release provided by the Trump campaign.

The group, which left the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in 2011 to become a nonprofit, says on its website that it was founded by the former president to be a voice to promote “strategic realism in U.S. foreign policy.” Its associates include Henry A. Kissinger, the secretary of state under Nixon, as well as Senator Jeff Sessions, Republican of Alabama and a senior adviser to Mr. Trump. Roger Stone, a sometime adviser of Mr. Trump, is a former Nixon aide.

That night, according to texts released during his trial, Roger Stone wrote Rick Gates, furious that he had not been consulted about the details of the speech first — though Gates explained that he leaked it to Haberman so Stone would find out. “I cannot learn about a foreign policy speech from the media,” Trump’s rat-fucker said. “This is personally embarrassing. I’m out,” said the advisor who had supposedly quit the campaign almost a year earlier.

Among the things Stone bitched about learning from a leak to Maggie Haberman made partly for his benefit was about the venue. “No detail on venue and no input on content.”

It turns out, the night before the speech, the campaign announced a venue change, to the Mayflower Hotel, a decision that has attracted a great deal of scrutiny since because of the way the venue set up an opportunity (among other things) for the Russian Ambassador to hob-nob with Trump’s people.

The Mueller Report describes that Jared Kushner directed CNI to change the venue and reveals that the actual venue change was made on April 25, two days after Stone’s angry texts.

Kushner later requested that the event be moved to the Mayflower Hotel, which was another venue that Simes had mentioned during initial discussions with the Campaign, in order to address concerns about security and capacity.618

[snip]

On April 25, 2016, Saunders booked event rooms at the Mayflower to host both the speech and a VIP reception that was to be held beforehand.619 Saunders understood that the receptionat which invitees would have the chance to meet· candidate Trump–would be a small event.620 Saunders decided who would attend by looking at the list of CNI’ s invitees to the speech itself and then choosing a subset for the reception.621 CNI’s invitees to the reception included Sessions and Kislyak.622 The week before the speech Simes had informed Kislyak that he would be invited to the speech, and that he would have the opportunity to meet Trump.623

616 Simes 3/8/18 302, at 13; Saunders 2/15/18 302, at 7-8.

619 Saunders 2/15/18 302, at 11-12; C00006651-57 (Mayflower Group Sales Agreement).

620 Saunders 2/15/18 302, at 12-13.

621 Saunders 2/15/18 302, at 12.

622 C00002575 (Attendee List); C00008536 (4/25/16 Email, Simes to Kushner (4:53:45 p.m.)).

623 Simes 3/8/18 302, at 19-20.

But the interviews explaining why Kushner asked for the change and how the Mayflower got booked remain heavily redacted in the 302s released under the BuzzFeed FOIA, even after part of one got reprocessed.

The texts and the timing at least suggest that Stone may have had some influence over the change — and, since he complained about the content of the speech, even the content.

That’s not the only moment when Roger Stone, far better known for his domestic rat-fucking and policy interest in racism and decriminalization, tried to play a direct role in Trump’s foreign policy stance.

The SSCI Report provides a really remarkable description that — during the key period when Stone was pitching Manafort on what was happening with further releases of stolen documents in July and August 2016 — Stone was scripting pro-Russian Tweets for the candidate.

(U) On Sunday July 31, at 9:15 p.m., the day after speaking at length with Manafort, Stone called Gates.1550 Ten minutes later, Stone had two phone calls with Trump that lasted over ten minutes. 1551 Stone then emailed Jessica Macchia, one of Trump’s assistants, eight draft tweets for Trump, under the subject line “Tweets Mr. Trump requested last night.”1552 Many of the draft tweets attacked Clinton for her adversarial posture toward Russia and mentioned a new peace deal with Putin, such as “I want a new detente with Russia under Putin.”1553

(U) At 10:45 p.m. that same evening, Stone emailed Corsi again with the subject line “Call me MON[day]” and writing that “Malloch should see Assange.”1554

(U) The next morning, August 1, Stone again spoke twice with Trump. 1555 Stone later informed Gates of these calls. 1556 According to an email that morning from Stone to Macchia, Trump had “asked [Stone] for some other things” that Stone said he was “writing now.”1557

Four days after Trump appeared to ad lib a request for Russia to dump more emails, “Russia are you listening?” Trump’s rat-fucker left a digital trail showing himself scripting tweets for Trump to adopt a pro-Russian stance.

While most witnesses couldn’t explain why Trump asked Russia to find Hillary’s emails, Gates said in very ambiguous testimony the most damning part of which remains redacted that knowledge that Russia was behind the hack might have come from Stone (which is far different than actually scripting Trump’s comments).

Senior Campaign officials believed that the statement was unscripted. 1518 However, Gates also recalled Stone mentioning that Russia was probably the source of the materials, and Gates also acknowledged there were public indications at the time that Russia was responsible. 1519

1518 (U) See FBI, FD-302, Gates 4/11/2018; FBI, FD-302, Manafort 9/13/2018; Bannon Tr., pp. 173-174. 1519

(U) FBI, FD-302, Gates, 10/25/2018.

The SSCI Report is silent about whether Trump actually used any of those draft tweets, though the three Russian or Ukrainian tweets Trump did post in this period (one, two, three) were clean-up from the “Russia are you listening” comment, suggesting that Trump did not use what Stone drafted.

Stone, however, appears to have used the tweets he drafted himself. On July 27 (after Trump’s “Russia are you listening” comment), he affirmed that,

Of course the Russians hacked @HillaryClinton’s e-mail- Putin doesn’t want the WAR with Russia neo-con Hillary’s donors have paid for

And Stone sent three tweets that appear similar, if not identical, to the ones he drafted for Trump to send out (he appears to have posted them before sending them to Trump’s assistant).

HYPOCRISY ! @HillaryClinton attacks Trump for non-relationship with Putin when she and Bill have taken millions from Russians oligarchs

Trump wants to end the cold war and defuse out tensions with Russia. Hillary ,neocon wants war. Putin gets it. @smerconish @realDonaldTrump

,@RealDonaldTrump wants to end new cold war tensions with Russia-thru tough negotiation- #detente #NYTimes

Days later, Stone would flip-flop on the certainty, expressed on July 27, that Russia had hacked Hillary, linking to an Assange denial made to RT and repackaged at Breitbart and two different versions of his post claiming that Guccifer 2.0 was not Russian.

Aug 5, 2016 09:18:08 PMHillary lies about Russian Involvement in DNC hack -Julian Assange is a hero. https://t.co/0oxP32I3Fz [Twitter Web Client]

Aug 6, 2016 10:17:07 AMRussians had nothing to do with Hillary Hack https://t.co/OHQvbKrxBt 

Aug 6, 2016 10:55:14 PMRoger Stone shows Russians didn’t hack Hillary https://t.co/o3WfbQFPwH https://t.co/bkqgEjvXMC 

Aug 8, 2016 12:43:27 AM.@Hillaryclinton lies about Russians hacking DNC e-mail https://t.co/OHQvbKrxBt

At two key moments in Trump’s first election campaign, a guy with no known foreign policy chops sure seemed to have an acute interest in dictating the candidate’s foreign policy views.

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17 replies
      • Desider says:

        That’s likely a bit hyperbole, but I understand this is stare decisis around here, just thought I’d toss out the Mayflower observation to chew on/up.

          • paulpfixion says:

            100%–Bmaz is correct–abramson is on the order of shaun king in his grifting bs. steer clear.

            the only thing I hate more when scrolling twitter is when the guy with the initials gg shows up.

            • bmaz says:

              That is a pretty good description. Both King and Abramson spew out stuff that, on the surface, people may want to hear. But both are full of it and grifting. It is really tiring.

          • Desider says:

            Abramson is self-promoting, big deal.
            He puts in much more work than whacko Shaun King spewing obvious self-service bullshit, is much more serious, and at least has compiled lots of Trump-related info (or crackpot theories) in 3 books if you don’t like his Twitter feed.
            He seems less a crackpot than Turley, Maté, Taibbi and modern Greenwald, who get a lot of face time around here.
            Never seen any specifics on why Abramson held in such contempt, specific examples of facts or legal claims he bolloxed…
            Anyway, back on topic, Mayflower meeting, seems important.

            • bmaz says:

              Yes, it is a big deal. If you want to lionize that asshole, fine. Don’t waste my time, his place belongs exactly with those others. And, by the way, the Mayflower event was known long ago, and way before Abramson’s “tweet storm”.

  1. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    This leaves me wondering who was paying Stone. (And how much, or if he did it on the cheap for his ego.)
    He’d earlier been a business partner with Manafort back in the 70s/80s, and from the looks of this he was at least a silent partner through 2016.
    So who was paying for this whole operation? And through how many tax havens…?

    And did Stone ever know Wilbur Ross (former co-director of Bank of Cyprus, aka Ru$$IanLaundromat)? Was the money going through Cyprus? Or Panama->Miami?

    I don’t mean to take the thread off-topic, but I’m gobsmacked at the brazenness of Stone. As if he felt that he was untouchable. His ‘work’ had value to someone, and it would be worth knowing how he was paid, and by whom.

    • Chris.EL says:

      *Novice here* (national intelligence-wise natch) but Manafort strikes me as a dude who goes and does whatever he wants — case in point: the manipulation of going through the motions of co-operating with prosecutors just to get info. on what they were doing.

      Manafort must also have all the knowledge of where the “bodies are buried” — that’s why he has not been pardoned/sentence commuted?

      I dunno.

      However, it pretty much boils down to Putin; he’s the guy that’s got all these *marionettes* on the strings, isn’t he?

      • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

        It’s hard to know how much of Manafort’s brain has been pickled in alcohol, or whether that’s just a feint.

        As for Putin, it’s possible he’s the main baddie.
        It’s possible that he, also, has puppet strings.

    • subtropolis says:

      I’ve always assumed that Manafort was feeding him some cash on the sly. But Stone also requested that Manafort (or was it Bannon?) ask Rebeka Mercer for money at one point. Perhaps she’d been paying him earlier.

  2. joel fisher says:

    Certainly might make for some entertaining post-election hearings. I’d love for someone to ask Stone what all this was about; have him lie; and have a Justice Department that’s standing by to indict perjurers rather than dismiss charges against them. He’s never going to tell the truth without being coerced, and seeing himself in prison for the rest of his life is the only thing that might work. Right now it’s only a pipe dream.

  3. Ginevra diBenci says:

    I would still love to know the precise how and why behind the Trump 2016 campaign’s changes to the GOP’s Ukraine platform. For me that was the moment I stopped telling myself it was just my paranoia: something sinisterly pro-Putin was indeed happening behind the scenes. In retrospect, I’m astonished they kept it so relatively subtle at the time. If Marcy (and possibly others of us) can nail down the conduit between Kremlin and Stone, which seems very much still operative, it will make a lot of people’s sacrifices (McCabe, Strzok, all those burned sources) much more worth the pain.

  4. Eureka says:

    Can’t let this pass without noting Haberman and the NYT — the NYT! — as Stone’s cut out to campaign information (however unsatisfactory such may have been to Stone, the apparent source of this idea), and his griping about Lewandowski (when the other page, which lists some Trump-Stone calls, quotes Nunberg that said contacts had to be hidden from [Lewandowski]).

    Stone is such a triangulator. Gates, apparently, is the peacemaker in these relationships. That kind of puts Gates’ cooperation (or “cooperation”) with the Mueller team in a different light…

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