Roger Stone promoted violence, then sought pardon after Jan. 6, evidence shows
By Luke Broadwater, Alan Feuer and Maggie Haberman
Shortly after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, as authorities began arresting people across the country in connection with the violence, political operative Roger Stone started texting with a lawyer representing President Donald Trump in his second impeachment trial, seeking a pardon.
“There will be mass prosecutions,” Stone wrote to David I. Schoen, the lawyer. “Mark my words.”
Could Schoen “plug” his pardon request the next time he spoke to the president?
The text messages are part of a trove of video evidence Danish filmmakers have turned over to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the Capitol, which also shows Stone threatening violence and spelling out plans to fight the election results. Some of the material was expected in the panel’s next hearing, which had been planned for Wednesday but was postponed abruptly on Tuesday afternoon, with committee members citing the impending impact of Hurricane Ian.
“At this point I’d be happy if he pardoned me and Kerik again,” Stone wrote to Schoen, referring to Bernard Kerik, the former New York City police commissioner and longtime ally of Trump who had repeatedly challenged the results of the election. “He’s already pardoned both of us so he would take no heat for it whatsoever.”
Schoen answered: “If he can be the only president impeached twice maybe you should be the only person pardoned twice.”
The footage shows Stone using bellicose language and laying out plans to create and exploit uncertainty about the election results to help Trump cling to power.
“Fuck the voting,” he says at one point with a laugh. “Let’s get right to the violence. Shoot to kill.”
The committee obtained the footage from the filmmakers after extensive negotiations, issuing a subpoena and then traveling to Copenhagen to spend a week going through the evidence. They received about 10 minutes out of 170 hours of footage from a crew that trailed Stone for more than three years to make a documentary, titled “A Storm Foretold.”
Christoffer Guldbrandsen, the filmmaker who followed Stone off and on for more than three years, said he had provided the panel with clips they “specifically requested,” but turned down similar requests from the FBI, because he didn’t want to work with law enforcement.
“Their interest was gravitating around Roger Stone and his relationship with the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys in particular, and his role communicating with them before and after Jan. 6,” Guldbrandsen said of the committee.
Stone, a Florida resident, has long maintained close ties to the Proud Boys, especially to Enrique Tarrio, the group’s former leader who lived in Miami before his arrest in March on seditious conspiracy charges connected to the Capitol attack. Stone has also been associated with another top member of the Florida Proud Boys, Joseph Biggs, who was arrested two weeks after the storming of the Capitol and is now part of the same sedition case as Tarrio.
During his time trailing Stone, Guldbrandsen learned that Stone had developed “very close relationships” with both Tarrio and Biggs.
Guldbransen also captured Stone comparing plans to challenge the 2020 election with tactics similar to those he used in 2000 during the election dispute between Al Gore and George W. Bush, when he helped to orchestrate the so-called “Brooks Brothers riot” of Republican operatives that disrupted the recount of the vote in Florida.
“We’re challenging them in court. If the electors show up at the Electoral College, armed guards will throw them out,” Stone said in one clip, adding that Trump should say: “‘The judges we’re going to are judges I appointed. You’re not stealing the election.’ That’s what — that’s basically what Bush did to Gore.”
Stone said in another clip that he believed the vote result would “still be up in the air” after Election Day.
“The key thing to do is to claim victory. Possession is nine-tenths of the law,” he said, adding an expletive. “Sorry. Over. We won.”
Guldbrandsen said he did not capture video of Stone talking directly with anyone in the White House, but that he would often refuse to have conversations on camera. He said Stone was in frequent contact with Kimberly Guilfoyle, who is in a relationship with Donald Trump Jr.
In their text conversation about potential pardons, Stone and Schoen both derided two top lawyers in Trump’s White House, Pat Cipollone and Eric Herschmann, who they believed were stopping the president from granting clemency to some of his allies and supporters.
“Two stiffs,” Schoen said of the men, adding that lawyers could have “saved a lot of loyal lives.”
“A true mieskeit,” Stone wrote of Cipollone, using a Yiddish term for a bad or ugly person.
Schoen did not respond to phone calls seeking comment.
In one clip, Stone said he planned to make a movie poster called “Witch Hunt 2” that he said would include a “big picture of Merrick Garland,” the attorney general.
“The obstacles are these lily-livered, weak-kneed bureaucrats in the White House Counsel’s Office. And now they must be crushed because they’ve told the president something that’s not true.”
In an interview, Stone insisted that he was merely talking about declaring victory before a call was made when he invoked the Brooks Brothers riot.
“When James A. Baker III urged George W. Bush to declare victory, he was hailed as a genius,” Stone said. “I did the same thing. Now it’s called criminal conduct. The Brooks Brothers model is claiming victory.”
He also said that he had been merely voicing an opinion that he never shared with Trump.
“If I never communicated any of this to Trump, what difference does it make?” Stone said. He said he received a call when he was pardoned, and spoke briefly to Trump in late December 2020 at one of his clubs, “in a buffet line. There’s no substantive conversations.”
As for the pardons he discussed, he said, “I had predicted that they would criminalize constitutional political activity.”
In a statement later, Stone said, “Any claim, assertion, implication or accusation that I knew in advance about, participated in or condoned any illegal activity on Jan. 6 at the Capitol is categorically false. Nor did I play any role whatsoever in the efforts to delay the certification of the Electoral College. Commenting on these matters are within my free-speech rights although it is not clear that representations provided by the committee are accurate, unedited or not manipulated. Previous assertions regarding me by witnesses before the committee are entirely false and without basis.”