Politics: Roger Stone’s defense: MAGA, God and Donald Trump - - PressFrom - US
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Politics Roger Stone’s defense: MAGA, God and Donald Trump

03:55  14 november  2019
03:55  14 november  2019 Source:   politico.com

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For once, Roger Stone is letting others do the talking. The political provocateur has spent decades verbally sparring with almost anyone who is willing to engage. But as his trial over lying to Congress and tampering with a witness nears its climatic end, Stone has left his defense in the hands of external

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For once, Roger Stone is letting others do the talking.

a man standing in front of a building: Roger Stone returns to the Prettyman Courthouse for his trial.© Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images Roger Stone returns to the Prettyman Courthouse for his trial.

The political provocateur has spent decades verbally sparring with almost anyone who is willing to engage. But as his trial over lying to Congress and tampering with a witness nears its climatic end, Stone has left his defense in the hands of external factors: lawyers, God, the race card, a coterie of MAGA-world figures and, if all else fails, President Donald Trump.

Given the chance to tell his side of the story, Stone chose not to take the witness stand. Given the opportunity to call witnesses, his attorneys opted instead to simply play portions of the congressional testimony in question.

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Stone , who recently brought a new defense attorney onto his legal team, said he This is looking bad for Roger Stone , and more specifically, for Donald Trump . When Mueller's team conducted searches connected with the Russian indictments, Roger Stone ' s texts with Wikileaks turned up.

Stone and Trump have a complicated, often contentious relationship that goes back decades and was centered around Trump ’ s flirtation with politics for nearly as long. During Trump ’ s 2016 campaign, Stone served briefly as his communications advisor, and founded a political action committee that

As a legal strategy, it caught many by surprise, even if Stone’s defenders have done their part in court since the trial started to poke as many holes as they can in the government’s case.

As a political play, though, it might be perfectly tailored for a very different audience — MAGA-ites and the president himself. After all, a conviction on any of the seven counts opens Stone up to prison time and raises the question of whether Trump would face pressure to issue an election-year pardon to his longtime friend, who has a passionate following in Trump land.

“If you hesitate about your conclusions in this matter then you have a reasonable doubt,” Bruce Rogow, the lead Stone defense attorney, told the jury during his closing arguments Wednesday. “My job is to create for you the reasons why you should have a reasonable doubt.”

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On Thursday, Stone’s six-day trial will shift to jury deliberations and a verdict soon thereafter, the final coda to months of legal wrangling that kicked off in January with a dramatic early-morning raid to arrest Stone at his South Florida home.

As the case moved towards a trial, Stone and his family have been appealing to a higher power.

They were at a Sunday morning mass about 10 days before his trial. “please pray for us,” his wife, Nydia Stone, wrote on Instagram alongside a prayer emoji, the hashtags #trump and #maga and a tag for the president’s Twitter handle.

And before opening arguments last Tuesday, Stone’s wife and daughter sat with a leather-bound Bible open on their lap turned to the Book of Psalms.

They were joined in the front row by Randy Short, a Washington, D.C., activist wearing a white religious smock who has described himself as Stone’s spiritual adviser.

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  Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon expected to testify against Roger Stone Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon is expected to testify against Roger Stone in his trial for lying to Congress, federal prosecutors said in court Wednesday. © Manuel Balce Ceneta/APIn his opening statement, prosecutor Aaron Zelinsky said he also plans to call Rick Gates, another former top aide to President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign, to testify at Stone's trial. require(["medianetNativeAdOnArticle"], function (medianetNativeAdOnArticle) { medianetNativeAdOnArticle.

Roger Stone says he left Trump ' s campaign over frustration that in recent days, it has deviated from what fueled its rise in the polls. “Fred Trump had been a major Goldwater backer and financier. [ Donald Trump ] was very helpful to Reagan, in terms of helping us secure office space, telephones

Roger Stone , a former adviser to President Donald Trump , leaves the federal courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on Jan. 25. Mr. Stone was charged by special counsel Robert Mueller with obstructing justice, giving false statements, and witness tampering. Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

In fact, Short participated in a small rally outside the courthouse on the first day of the trial, leading a chant that Stone was innocent and interspersing a pro-Trump song with the chorus: “I’m on the Trump train. We did it in ’16. Gonna do it again.”

In an interview, Short said Stone wasn’t concerned about the government’s parade of witnesses, which included Steve Bannon, the former Trump campaign CEO whom the government called to contradict Stone’s deposition to Congress that there had been no contact with Trump’s campaign about WikiLeaks.

“I don’t think Bannon is someone that would worry them,” Short said. “Their biggest fear from my sense is that there’s so many [jurors] who have intelligence community or government ties or ties to the former administration or lawyers. Where are the blue collar people on that? Really? I’m a Washingtonian. This city is still half black. If you look at the jury there are four blacks. There are two others and 10 white folks. It’s interesting not one black man is on there.”

“If you looked at the jury pool it looked like Green Bay, not like Washington, D.C., I mean really,” Short added.

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That was a theme that Stone’s daughter, Adria, also picked up on Twitter in the hours before the trial’s opening arguments.

“Look at our jury pool for Roger with eyes wide open! Spouses that work at DOJ, 10 yr position w congress, journalist, attorneys, admitting they have negative feelings about RJS & DT-all allowed! #realDonaldTrump #AGBarr” she wrote that Wednesday morning.

Other close Stone friends have said they’re not confident in a victory on the merits alone.

“In a courtroom where 90-plus percent are found guilty, it’s a problem,” said Michael Caputo, a former Trump 2016 campaign aide and longtime Stone friend who’s attended most of the Stone trial in person.

“I’m praying every day and everybody I know is praying every day,” Caputo added. “When court starts and is in session we have people in there praying. There’s going to need to be celestial intervention for him. It can happen.”

Since the trial’s opening, Stone’s lawyers have tried to mount a more traditional defense, searching for just one juror who would hold out and block a guilty verdict. They tried to get potential D.C. jurors booted from the pool based on their professed opposition to Trump.

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The Roger Stone trial is no longer just about Roger Stone . Despite the profane Stone texts and caustic friendships that have dominated chatter about the case, the Republican provocateur’ s court battle will likely be remembered for something far different: It revealed that Donald Trump ’ s 2016

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They challenged the government’s witnesses, getting an FBI agent who obtained Stone’s communications to admit she didn’t know the content of Stone’s phone conversations even though they leaned on his phone records. They also got her to concede that she didn’t know whether Stone followed through on any alleged threats he made in emails.

Later, Stone’s team pressed Bannon to acknowledge that Stone never actually told him directly that he had WikiLeaks connections. Bannon said Stone simply gave him that impression.

With Gates, Stone’s lawyers largely tried to shred his credibility, reminding the jury that the former Trump campaign deputy had already pleaded guilty for lying to special counsel Robert Mueller’s team. Gates’ testimony, they stressed, was part of a deal he struck to obtain a more lenient sentence.

a man wearing a suit and tie: WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 01: Former Trump campaign official Michael Caputo arrives at the Hart Senate Office building to be interviewed by Senate Intelligence Committee staffers, on May 1, 2018 in Washington, DC. The committee is investigating alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)© Mark Wilson/Getty Images WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 01: Former Trump campaign official Michael Caputo arrives at the Hart Senate Office building to be interviewed by Senate Intelligence Committee staffers, on May 1, 2018 in Washington, DC. The committee is investigating alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

But when it came time to mount a formal defense, Stone’s lawyers kept things simple.

They had the jury listen to about 50 minutes of audio from the September 2017 House deposition central to the charges against their client. That brought more of Stone’s voice into the trial, but jurors never heard directly from the normally voluble counter-puncher.

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And so it was left to Stone’s lawyers to speak on his behalf. Their argument? Stone’s election-year behavior was de rigueur in politics. Candidates use opposition research all the time, they said.

“This is what happens in campaigns,” Rogow said.

Why would Stone have lied to lawmakers, Rogow asked the jury, given that he offered to speak publicly to the House panel and he even appeared without a subpoena?

“There’s no motive for Mr. Stone to do this,” he said.

It was the most Stone’s defense team had directly addressed the government’s arguments in months. Before last week, Stone and his attorneys had mostly pushed a narrative that Stone was the victim of a political hit job, carried out with the help of the media and the deep state.

They filed pleadings slamming the media and accusing prosecutors of trying to crimp Stone’s speech at the same time he was the subject of tens of thousands of hostile articles and a mocking Steve Martin on impression on “Saturday Night Live.”

Ultimately, Jackson banned Stone in July from using Facebook, Twitter or any social media to trumpet this narrative.

Her decision came after an initial warning over a Stone Instagram post that appeared to show a gun's crosshairs above a picture of Jackson's head. Stone took the witness stand to apologize for the incident, saying he didn’t fully control his Instagram account.

With Stone silenced, some of his supported picked up the torch, and pushed the limits even further.

InfoWars founder Alex Jones last week erroneously reported the name of a juror in the Stone trial based on the description that one woman gave identifying herself in open court as a former Obama-era communications aide for the Office of Management and Budget. Jones called her a “minion.”

“We’ve got to have Obama’s former communications director hang Roger. Hell, if they give him the death penalty, maybe she can hang him and kick the lever and he’ll break his neck and she can piss all over his dead body,” Jones said.

When Jackson found out about the incendiary remarks emanating from the far-right mediasphere, she chastised the rhetoric as “uninformed” and “unfortunately false.”

“It puts the safety of all the people on both sides, including possibly the jury, at risk,” she said.

In court, however, the outside hyperbole has had to grapple with Stone’s previous words, including a mountain of emails and text messages that seem to drip with contempt for the House’s fact-finding effort and Mueller’s investigation.

“Tell him to go f--- himself,” Stone wrote about Mueller in one text message to Credico.

It doesn’t matter what Stone is — or isn’t — saying now, prosecutors told the jurors. They have all the Stone commentary needed to render a verdict.

“The evidence here is written down for you,” prosecutor Michael Marando said in his closing argument Wednesday. “This is literally the defendant’s words.”

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