Arrested by the FBI on charges brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller in connection with “Russiagate,” Roger Stone launched The Donald into politics and has always been a loyal supporter.
Roger Stone loves thinking ahead. His more polite critics consider him a “hateful figure;” the less polite ones have gone so far as to call him “a rat” lurking in Washington's political undergrowth. Stone, 66, has never been overly concerned, saying, “I know, I’m a dirty trickster.” In 2016, he granted a long, cheerful interview to the makers of a documentary that tore his reputation to shreds, “Get Me Roger Stone,” produced by Netflix. You might call him old school: never be aggressive toward your enemies; never get angry in public; never show you are vulnerable. Stone has built his persona over more than 40 years of political activity based on the principle of always remaining in the shadows while never leaving the line of sight of those in power.
From College to the White House
The story where he starts at Georgetown University only to drop out comes from Stone himself. Even then, he paid more attention to forging relationships and networking than he did to books. He was part of a club of young Republicans and came into contact with the election committee of Richard Nixon, subsequently winning a place in the White House in 1972. Stone was born in Norwalk, in Connecticut, but raised in Lewisboro, New York. His Catholic family had Italian roots. A middle-class boy, he lived through the great youth protests of the ‘60s and ‘70s absorbed by eccentric interests such as classical tailoring. Today, he has more than 400 suits arranged boutique style in his house in Harlem and at his Fort Lauderdale villa.
Nixon’s Portrait on His Back
For many Americans, conservatives included, Nixon was the worst president in recent U.S. history. The consistently nonconformist Stone, on the other hand, had a portrait of the Watergate president tattooed on his back. We do not know if Stone keeps anything like a true archive. If he did, it would provide valuable insight into the backstage of American politics from the Nixon era through Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and finally, Donald Trump.
His First ‘Shot’ with Trump
Politics and clothes were not Stone’s only interests; he also set about building a huge fortune for himself. In the ‘80s, he assembled a team of unscrupulous lawyers and consultants. His partner was Paul Manafort, also arrested in the last few months by Special Counsel Mueller. It was Stone that had the million-dollar idea. They would represent and lobby on behalf of the world’s most disreputable figures – who also happened to be some of the wealthiest: dictators such as Mobutu Sese Seko, of the former Zaire, or sinister individuals such as the leader of the Angolan rebels, Jonas Savimbi. Around 1983 to 1984, the Manafort-Stone practice came across an ambitious and unscrupulous builder from Queens. At that time, The Donald was building up his casino business in New Jersey and New York. Stone, in particular, tried to block a casino run by Native Americans in the Catskills, which would have been a direct threat to Trump’s casino in Atlantic City. He did it using his own brand of tactics. As a result, the state lobbying commission imposed a $250,000 fine on him for “irregular conduct.” It marked an association between Trump and Stone that was to last more than 30 years.
The President’s Greatest Supporter
Stone pushed Trump toward politics from the very start. In 1984, on behalf of the New York Republican Party, he asked Trump if he was interested in challenging Mario Cuomo for the governorship. The response was no, period. In 1999, Trump set up a committee to “explore” a bid for the presidency with the Reform Party. Stone was by his side. Then, in 2008, there was a separation. Trump declared he was disgusted by his adviser’s methods. That was all forgotten by 2015, when Stone was one of the businessman’s fiercest supporters in the Republican primaries, which he won. Throughout all this time, Stone has never held roles that were very visible, assuming what for him is the perfect position: distancing himself from the crowd of acolytes and fair-weather friends that surround Trump. He undoubtedly knows more than most people about the tactics employed by the 2016 campaign committee and has a deep understanding of how Trump works and thinks. That’s something Special Counsel Mueller worked out a long time ago.