As Stone waits for Mueller, he's back to going out for pizza on Fridays
Posted January 24, 2019 1:01 p.m. EST
CNN — Roger Stone is still living in limbo.
When special counsel Robert Mueller was appointed some 20 months ago to investigate Russian election meddling and potential collusion with the Trump campaign, Stone seemed like a clear target.
During the 2016 election, he traded private messages with Guccifer 2.0, an online front for Russian intelligence services. Before Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta's hacked emails were released, Stone predicted trouble was ahead for "the Podesta's" (which Stone insists was a reference to John and his lobbyist brother Tony Podesta). Stone even bragged about being in touch with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, whose platform helped disseminate the information the Russians had stolen, according to US intelligence.
Stone has said publicly that he expects to be indicted and he believes he's been under surveillance since 2016. He beefed up his legal team. He proclaimed his innocence as more than a dozen of his associates were interviewed by Mueller's team or appeared before the grand jury.
Still, no word from Mueller.
"It's all quiet," said Grant Smith, one of Stone's four attorneys. One of the attorneys reached out to Mueller's team roughly a year ago to let them know Stone had legal representation. It was an "if you ever need us, here's an address" type of contact, Smith said. Mueller's team never reached out.
It's clear Mueller's team is still interested in Stone, though. Conservative author and conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi's stepson, Andrew Stettner, appeared before Mueller's grand jury Thursday, as investigators continue to dig into conversations between Corsi and Stone in 2016.
Mueller also recently requested access to Stone's September 2017 closed-door testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, which is now under Democratic control. The committee agreed to release the testimony to Mueller, but so far it hasn't been released publicly. Stone's team does not have a copy, Smith said, though Stone's lawyers are allowed to view it in a secure room known as a SCIF (Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility).
"There's nothing there that suggests collaboration or collusion, so now we're down to the question of perjury," Stone said in an interview with CNN. He insists his testimony was "accurate and true."
A spokesman for the special counsel declined to comment.
The focus on perjury comes after Mueller has dug into seemingly everything else in Stone's life, including his finances.
"None of that disturbs me other than I have far less money than people think I have," Stone said. "That's the price of being well-dressed, I guess."
Waiting for 'Roger Stone day'
Stone has been mostly defiant throughout the Mueller saga, insisting he's being unfairly targeted and fighting back on public platforms like the fringe, right-wing InfoWars and the conservative Daily Caller websites. But he has also expressed exhaustion and irritation from regularly fielding questions about whether it's finally "Roger Stone day" -- the day he might be hauled off by the FBI.
"There was a time when those prognostications really landed hard on Roger," said Michael Caputo, a longtime friend of Stone's and former Trump campaign aide who has been interviewed by Mueller's investigators. "They don't land so hard anymore because Roger Stone day has come and gone a thousand times and at some point you realize Roger Stone day may never come."
"There was a time when Roger didn't make plans on Fridays," Caputo added, referring to the day of the week when Mueller's grand jury tends to meet and deliver indictments. But Stone is back to spending Friday evenings with his family at his favorite New Haven-style pizza joint, Caputo said.
"I really actually admire him for the way that he's handling it," said Kristin Davis, a friend of Stone's, who was interviewed by Mueller's team. "I've fought a couple cases in my lifetime, and it's horribly stressful."
Davis, famously known as the Manhattan Madam, once ran a high-end prostitution ring and went to jail for a few months as part of the scandal surrounding then-Democratic New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer. Davis was not involved in the specific prostitution service Spitzer used that led to his resignation in 2008.
Stone said he has drawn strength from the support of his family, and in his wife Nydia in particular. Davis said her son Carter, who is Stone's godson, has also been a source of joy for him amid the tumult. Last September, Stone and his wife threw a birthday party for the two-year-old at their Florida home, complete with a dinosaur cake and a mountain of gifts.
The combination of keeping a legal team on standby and seeing much of his private consulting work dry up has been "financially debilitating," Stone said. Lately, he's been employing more creative fundraising techniques than the typical email blast.
His family, with the help of some editing software, recently created videos of their dogs proclaiming: "Roger Stone did nothing wrong!" The slogan is also available on a t-shirt for $33. The back of the shirts are emblazoned with likenesses of Stone and former President Richard Nixon, echoing the Nixon tattoo on Stone's own back. Stamped across the back of the shirts: "If I weren't effective you wouldn't hate me."
Stone said he has also raised thousands of dollars selling signed rocks -- aka "Roger stones" -- for $10 each.
"I have found, as I'm sure you can see, if people have a choice of giving you $25 or giving you $25 and getting a signed paperweight in return, they'd rather have something they can hold in their hand," Stone said. "It's marketing."
Stone's team declined to share how much he has spent on legal fees so far. They also refused to say how much his legal defense fund has raised.
Stone discovers his 'real friends'
The Mueller investigation has rocked many of Stone's relationships, with business associates, people Stone has mentored and even President Donald Trump.
Both Randy Credico, a New York radio host, and Corsi were once business associates of Stone's. Both men said they provided information to Mueller's team that they believed would be damaging to Stone. Stone said both men have lied about him and he no longer speaks to either of them.
Stone doesn't speak to Andrew Miller these days either. That's not because of any bad blood with his former traveling aide, but because they don't want to give the impression that they're conspiring while Miller fights his grand jury subpoena and challenges Mueller's authority in court.
One of the biggest blows, though, may have been Sam Nunberg's frenetic media tour in 2018. The former Trump campaign aide, whom Stone mentored and helped land a job on the Trump campaign, told various media outlets that Mueller wanted him to testify against Stone and that he believed Stone would be indicted. After initially saying he would refuse to appear before the grand jury, Nunberg ultimately testified.
"People have this, 'Oh, Roger Stone's a dirty trickster,' outlook and nothing fazes him," said Davis. "But he's still a human being. These are still people he knew for years. At the end of the day, they've kind of all done him dirty."
Stone himself said, "Here's the only saving grace: It is in times of adversity that you find out who your real friends are."
As for Stone and Trump, their decades-long relationship has been peppered with periods when the two men spoke daily and others when they hardly spoke at all. These days, they aren't in contact, according to Stone.
"I'm sure that we will communicate again when this is over, one way or another," Stone said.
In the meantime, Stone intends to keep up his fight in the court of public opinion.
"He's always said, 'Let no negative go unanswered,'" Caputo said. "That's what he has always told all of his clients."
Stone has been taking his own advice, making his case on right-wing platforms, cable news outlets and the social media sites that haven't suspended his accounts (you won't find him on Twitter, which suspended him in 2017).
"He always compares himself to what happened to Paul Manafort," Caputo said, referring to Trump's former campaign chairman and Stone's former business partner in the 1980s. Manafort was convicted at trial on eight counts of financial crimes and is sitting in a Virginia jail cell.
"Paul, who remained silent in the face of accusations, watched as his public persona was smashed to smithereens," Caputo said, adding that Stone "wakes up every day ready to fight."
Stone's prolonged role in the Mueller investigation and the accompanying media coverage have -- by Stone's account -- made him more famous than ever before.
"When I go in public, you guys have done a great job of driving my name ID," Stone said. "They always break down about 50-50. Half the people want to take a selfie and shake my hand, the other half want to tell me to go f--- myself. It is still better to be infamous than never be famous at all."