Just days after being indicted, Roger Stone continued his media blitz Sunday appearing on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos. Stephanopoulos asked Stone about possibly cooperating with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, as Mueller has not asked to speak with Stone to date: “Are you prepared to tell the truth about your dealings with him to the special counsel, the truth about your dealings with the campaign?”
Stone’s answer contradicts itself. He first said that he would speak with Mueller about wrongdoing by people that he knows about. But then said he doesn’t know about any wrongdoing. And then said that he would answer honestly about the wrongdoing. Got that?
JUST IN: @GStephanopoulos: "Any chance you'll cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller if he asks?"
— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) January 27, 2019
“That’s a question I’d have to determine after my attorneys have some discussion. If there’s wrongdoing by other people in the campaign that I know about, which I know of none, but if there is, I would certainly testify honestly. I would also testify honestly about any other matter, including any communications with the president. It’s true we spoke on the phone, but those communications are political in nature, they’re benign and there is certainly no conspiracy with Russia. The president’s right. There is no Russian collusion,” Stone answered.
Stephanopoulos also asked Stone whether he had discussed receiving a pardon with Trump. “Absolutely, positively not,” Stone said. “I have never discussed a pardon [for myself].”
After reminding everyone that he is not perfect — “I am human and I did make some errors but they’re errors that would be inconsequential within the scope of this investigation” — Stone went on to complain about the way he was arrested this past week, a note he strikes in every media appearance in an obvious attempt to secure public sympathy. “I think the way I was treated on Thursday is extraordinary. I think the American people need to hear about it,” Stone said.
It’s fascinating how many of Trump’s surrogates who are in legal jeopardy think it is wise to speak to the media. Even those who are not in a legal line of fire like Rudy Giuliani, who supposedly is acting as Trump’s attorney, seems to do more harm than good for his client and his own reputation with every media appearance. What motivates this cast of characters is anyone’s guess.
The strategy, if you can call it that, seems to be in line with Trump’s longtime thought process of engaging with the media no matter how bad things may be going. Trump has a long history of reaching out to the press, even before his political career, sometimes as himself or acting as his own fake spokesman, John Miller, when things were going terribly for him. He has employed this tactic to defend his personal life, litigate public breakups as his divorces played out in the tabloids, and to set a false narrative about what a great businessman he was while half of his businesses were going bankrupt.
Some who have been indicted or who have cooperated with Mueller’s Russia probe have kept relatively quiet or have not spoken to the media at all like Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn and, to a lesser extent, Michael Cohen, who has mostly let one of his attorneys, Lanny Davis, do most of the public speaking for him. While others like, Stone, Carter Page, Jerome Corsi, Sam Nunberg, and Michael Caputo, all of whom are involved with the Russia probe, seemingly can’t say no to a media request.
Maybe all of this comes down to who thinks they have a chance of a pardon from the president and who is just living by Roger Stone’s adage: “The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.”