The Ratf*cker's Dilemma
Before shit starts going down today, let's talk about Roger Stone and Donald Trump's shady, shady deal. This afternoon, a jury will decide whether Stone tampered with a witness and lied to Congress about his contacts with Wikileaks during the 2016 election. He didn't take the stand in his own defense, so prosecutors never got to cross examine him about his contacts with the Trump campaign. But they did get Steve Bannon confirming that he spoke to Stone multiple times about upcoming Wikileaks dumps of Hillary Clinton's emails. And they heard Rick Gates testify that Stone relentlessly flogged his connections to Julian Assange from April of 2016.
In late July, Gates was in the car with Donald Trump and two Secret Service agents during a phone call with Roger Stone; Trump turned to Gates and said that Wikileaks was planning further document dumps. All of which was documented in the Mueller Report, but after Bill Barr took a Sharpie to it, conveniently obscuring the firsthand account of Trump's collusion with Wikileaks and Roger Stone, it looked like this.
Why no, that is not what Donald Trump said in his written answers to Mueller's questions.
QUESTION: Are you aware of any communications during the campaign, directly or indirectly, between Roger Stone, Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, or Rick Gates and (a) WikiLeaks, (b) Julian Assange, (c) other representatives of WikiLeaks, (d) Guccifer 2.0, (e) representatives of Guccifer 2.0, or (f) representatives of DCLeaks?
TRUMP: I do not recall being aware during the campaign of any communications between the individuals named in Question II (c) and anyone I understood to be a representative of WikiLeaks or any of the other individuals or entities referred to in the question.
Mighty convenient that President Big Brain forgot all about his conversation with Stone regarding upcoming Wikileaks dumps, huh? His entire staff was strategizing about the "gift" that would "give our campaign a leg up" with stolen emails, and Donald Trump just forgot all about it.
Now it's entirely possible that Rick Gates is lying. Maybe the Secret Service agents in the car during that call have an ethical obligation not to disclose what they saw or heard, although not a legal one according to the Supreme Court. But there was someone else on that phone who does know what happened, and that guy is probably about to go to jail because he wouldn't make a deal with prosecutors to cop to it.
Roger Stone knows exactly what he told Donald Trump and when, and he has steadfastly refused to tell the FBI, Mueller, or anyone else about it. So it's a safe bet that whatever it is it's something pretty incriminating. Because it was worth it to lie to Congress to keep it hidden. It was worth it to threaten a congressional witness to stop him talking about it. It was worth it to lie about to the FBI. And now it's worth it to put on this half-assed defense and risk jail to keep it under wraps.
That's a risky bet on someone who spent the past 50 years stiffing his creditors, but Stone's clearly putting all his chips on that presidential pardon. We'll see if it pays off.
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.