President Trump’s longtime confidant Roger Stone has told the world he believes special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe is “clearly out to get” him. Now he is sending another message: He won’t flip.
“I will never betray this president,” Stone told ABC News Thursday. “Under no circumstances will I bear false witness against President Trump.”
A veteran Republican operative and political street fighter, Stone added he has no plans to follow the path of President Richard Nixon’s White House Counsel, who famously turned on his former boss in a scathing manifesto, which he read before a shocked Senate committee during its 1973 investigation of the Watergate scandal.
“John Dean, I am not,” Stone said.
Stone’s declaration of loyalty comes as Mueller’s team appears to be circling him, with special counsel investigators recently questioning several people with close ties to Stone.
Earlier in May, Stone’s longtime friend and business associate Michael Caputo, who also served a brief stint as a Trump campaign aide, was interviewed by the special counsel’s team and told ABC News much of the questioning centered on Stone.
In recent weeks, agents with the special counsel issued subpoenas to Jason Sullivan, a social media adviser who worked with Stone, according to Knut Johnson, Sullivan’s lawyer.
In March, federal agents served a search warrant on Theodore Roosevelt “Ted” Malloch, an American academic, and spent almost an hour asking about his connections to Stone and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, Malloch told ABC News.
The special counsel also subpoenaed John Kakanis, 30, who worked as a driver, accountant and operative for Stone, two sources with direct knowledge confirmed to ABC News.
Stone has been increasingly vocal about his belief that he is, in his words, “under attack!”
He blasted out an email with those words seeking donations for a legal defense fund, saying he established it to cover the “enormous costs of the potential struggle ahead.”
Stone suggested to ABC News Thursday that Mueller’s investigators – who he insists have been unable to find any evidence of his colluding with Russia – might drum up other crimes in the hopes of persuading him to turn on the president.
Stone’s social media activity during the run-up to the 2016 election has brought questions because of the seemingly prophetic messages he sent about hacked emails belonging to Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta. In the weeks before WikiLeaks began publishing emails belonging to Podesta, Stone tweeted out cryptic messages to Twitter alluding to an impending release of material related to the Clinton campaign and specifically Podesta. Stone has said he had no prior knowledge about the hacking of Podesta’s emails or the release of those emails by WikiLeaks.
His alleged contact with WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange in the summer of 2016 after he left the Trump campaign is believed to be of interest in the special counsel’s investigation. Stone has previously told ABC News that reports he met with Assange during the 2016 presidential election are “provably false.”
“It is now apparent that the special counsel – having come up empty-handed of any evidence regarding Russian collusion or trafficking in allegedly hacked emails with WikiLeaks, or any other infraction pertaining to the 2016 election – may seek to concoct some other offense in an effort to pressure me into testifying against the president,” Stone told ABC News Thursday. “I stress that any such infraction would have to be fabricated,” he said.
The Senate Intelligence Committee has also requested to interview Stone after their wide-ranging request for documents last week. Stone told ABC News he’s “anxious to testify” and said his lawyers are still working with the committee on a date for the interview.
In addition to his decades-long friendship with Trump, Stone worked as a GOP political operative for Presidents Nixon and Ronald Reagan. He partnered with embattled former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort at the political consulting firm Black, Manafort, Stone and Kelly throughout the 1980s.
A self-described “dirty trickster” in American politics, Stone has taken credit for persuading President Trump to get into politics. He initially served as an adviser to Trump’s 2016 campaign but left amid controversy in 2015. While Trump told the Washington Post at the time that he “terminated Roger Stone…because he no longer serves a useful function for my campaign,” Stone told a different story, explaining on Twitter their falling out was about political messaging.
“Sorry @realDonaldTrump didn’t fire me- I fired Trump. Diasagree (sic) with diversion to food fight with @megynkelly away core issue messages,” Stone tweeted. Stone was banned from Twitter last October for threatening messages he tweeted at CNN anchors.
Stone continued to advise Trump informally after he departed from the campaign.
“The president and I have been friends for nearly 40 years,” Stone said. “I wanted him to run for president since 1988.”
While Stone has dropped down the list of outside confidants Trump speaks with frequently, he said he does still hear from the president occasionally but admits he’d like to hear from him more.
“He calls from time to time,” Stone told ABC News in an interview earlier in May. “I think the content of those conversations is nothing terribly momentous…I hear from him less now. I’d like to hear from him.”
When asked if he would comply if the special counsel asked him to testify, Stone told ABC News in early May, “it’s too much of a speculative question.” He said his lawyers had barred him from speaking on the matter.
When pressed, Stone replied that while he would “like to know what they’re interested in,” his primary goal would be to correct any “misunderstanding of what has actually transpired.”
What Stone wants to make clear: His loyalty.
“I hope he sees me as what I am — a loyal supporter,” Stone said.