As a flamboyant veteran of Washington and New York City politics, campaign strategist Roger J. Stone Jr. has been in any number of knock-’em-down scrapes over the years, reaching back four decades to his early days as a self-described “dirty trickster” in the Nixon administration.
But now Stone, a veteran adviser to President Trump who has long cut a piratical figure on the political scene, appears to be engaged in his stiffest fight yet: the one for his own legal future.
On Friday, a stream of developments in the special counsel investigation underscored his peril. An old friend — a former procuress from New York whom Stone has employed as an administrative worker — testified about him to the federal grand jury hearing evidence in the inquiry. Another old friend, a New York City radio host, has been subpoenaed to appear before the same grand jury. And one of his close aides was held in contempt of court for ignoring his own subpoena, though the order was stayed.
For months now, Stone, 65, has been a key focus of the inquiry by the special counsel, Robert Mueller, into whether any Trump associates worked with Russian operatives who were secretly trying to tip the election in Trump’s favor. Stone is central to that question because he appeared to have advance knowledge of some of the moves that Russian hackers were making.
Stone dismissed the latest series of events on Friday afternoon, insisting that none of the three people knew anything about possible collusion with the Russians.
“None of my associates have any such knowledge, and the ongoing attempt to interrogate them appears to be an effort to fabricate some other ‘crime’ to pressure me into testifying against the president,” he said. “It really has the smell of a witch hunt.”
Stone once said in a speech that he had “communicated with” Julian Assange, the founder of the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks, and predicted that a trove of information about Hillary Clinton would be published before the 2016 election. And on Twitter, he seemed to correctly predict the release of e-mails — stolen by Russian hackers — sent and received by John D. Podesta, Clinton’s campaign chairman.
Stone has also acknowledged that before the 2016 election, he traded private messages with Guccifer 2.0, the mysterious online figure that was instrumental in helping WikiLeaks release the e-mails and other political documents that eventually proved damaging to Clinton’s presidential bid.
In an indictment unsealed last month, Mueller charged that Guccifer 2.0 was in fact a front for Russian intelligence officers. The indictment also said that a person “in regular contact with senior members” of Trump’s campaign had communicated with Guccifer 2.0. Government officials have identified that person as Stone.
Each of the three people linked to Stone who either appeared before, or have been called to testify in front of, the grand jury have circuitous connections to the Russia investigation.
The former procuress, Kristin M. Davis, who is best known by her tabloid nickname, the “Manhattan Madam,” used Stone as a political consultant in 2010 when she started a protest run for New York governor. Stone has also employed her on and off in his office for years.
Neither Davis nor her lawyer, Daniel Hochheiser, returned phone calls Friday seeking comment on her grand jury appearance.
The radio host, Randy Credico, a left-wing gadfly who has had his own failed bids for office, met Stone in the early 2000s when they worked together on a campaign to liberalize New York’s drug laws. Last year, Credico was identified as the intermediary between Stone and Assange of WikiLeaks. On Friday, Credico’s lawyer, Martin Stolar, said his client was scheduled to appear before the Russia grand jury on Sept. 7.
Stone’s aide, Andrew Miller, received his own subpoena to appear before the Russia grand jury this year, and his lawyers have been trying to quash it it ever since. According to news reports, that effort failed Friday when Miller failed to show up for the grand jury and was held in contempt.