No shame for made man Roger Stone

Chicago Sun-Times - - OPINION - GENE LYONS eu­gene­lyons2@ya­hoo.com

Even amid the end­less tor­rent of malev­o­lent in­com­pe­tence that char­ac­ter­izes the Boss Trump regime, some days stand out.

One such ex­am­ple was his com­mu­ta­tion last Fri­day night of ca­reer lowlife Roger Stone’s 40-month sen­tence for ly­ing to Congress, ob­struct­ing a con­gres­sional in­ves­ti­ga­tion and wit­ness tam­per­ing.

The fed­eral judge who handed it down de­scribed Stone’s crimes as “cov­er­ing up for the pres­i­dent.”

Specif­i­cally, Stone ob­structed the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Rus­sian in­ter­fer­ence in the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. In the im­me­di­ate af­ter­math, he bragged to vet­eran jour­nal­ist Howard Fine­man about why he lied and who he was pro­tect­ing: “He [Trump] knows I was un­der enor­mous pres­sure to turn on him. It would have eased my sit­u­a­tion con­sid­er­ably. But I didn’t.”

Turn on him, that is, by fully de­scrib­ing his own and Trump’s con­ver­sa­tions about Wik­iLeaks dur­ing the 2016 cam­paign, when Ju­lian As­sange served as a cat’s paw for Rus­sian in­tel­li­gence by pub­lish­ing the Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee’s stolen emails. Trump tes­ti­fied that he has no mem­ory of talk­ing with Stone about it, al­though two wit­nesses over­heard them. He also swore that his son Don­ald Jr. never told him about meet­ing Krem­lin op­er­a­tives promis­ing “dirt” on Hil­lary Clin­ton in Trump Tower.

If you be­lieve that ...

Well, let’s move on.

Dur­ing At­tor­ney Gen­eral Wil­liam Barr’s

Se­nate con­fir­ma­tion hear­ing, he was asked, “Do you be­lieve a pres­i­dent could law­fully is­sue a par­don in ex­change for the re­cip­i­ent’s prom­ise to not in­crim­i­nate him?”

“No,” Barr an­swered, “that would be a crime.”

“A straight-up mob-style trans­ac­tion,” as the inim­itable Charles Pierce de­scribes it, one wor­thy of “the fic­tional Tony So­prano or the all-too-real John Gotti.” Dis­or­ga­nized crime, you might call it, a cyn­i­cal at­tack upon the rule of law. Even so, it’s a good bet that the at­tor­ney gen­eral has changed his opin­ion and would likely quib­ble that a com­muted sen­tence is not a par­don.

No, but in the Stone case, it’s ac­tu­ally worse. To ac­cept a par­don, see, a felon must ad­mit guilt. By so do­ing, he sur­ren­ders his Fifth Amend­ment priv­i­lege against self­in­crim­i­na­tion and can be called in front of, say, a con­gres­sional com­mit­tee and re­quired to talk un­der penalty of per­jury.

Can’t have that, can we? So no prison time for Roger.

This is a man who once claimed that Bill Clin­ton had made im­proper ad­vances to­ward his wife. But the Na­tional En­quirer turned up ev­i­dence that Stone him­self had been advertisin­g her charms in a mag­a­zine called Lo­cal Swing Fever.

That’s Roger Stone. He later ad­mit­ted ev­ery­thing to The New Yorker’s Jef­frey Toobin. “I’m not guilty of hypocrisy,” Stone said. “I’m a lib­er­tar­ian and a lib­er­tine.”

Some years later, he founded an anti-Hil­lary or­ga­ni­za­tion called Ci­ti­zens United Not Timid.

In short, Stone and Trump speak the same lan­guage. So it’s only nat­u­ral that they would end up al­lies — even though Trump de­scribed Stone to Toobin as “a stone-cold loser . ... He al­ways tries tak­ing credit for things he never did.”

But Stone did plenty dur­ing the 2016 cam­paign. A seeker of no­to­ri­ety ri­val­ing

Trump him­self, he com­mu­ni­cated di­rectly with “Guc­cifer 2,” the Rus­sian in­tel­li­gence op­er­a­tives that hacked the DNC, even as he pre­dicted Wik­iLeaks doc­u­ment dumps to any Re­pub­li­can who would lis­ten.

An­gered by the Trump com­mu­ta­tion, spe­cial coun­sel Robert S. Mueller wrote a Washington Post col­umn ob­ject­ing that, re­gard­less of at­tempts to por­tray him as a vic­tim, “Stone was pros­e­cuted and con­victed be­cause he com­mit­ted fed­eral crimes. He re­mains a con­victed felon, and rightly so ...

“A jury de­ter­mined he lied re­peat­edly to mem­bers of Congress. He lied about the iden­tity of his in­ter­me­di­ary to Wik­iLeaks. He lied about the ex­is­tence of writ­ten com­mu­ni­ca­tions with his in­ter­me­di­ary. He lied by deny­ing he had com­mu­ni­cated with the Trump cam­paign about the tim­ing of Wik­iLeaks’ re­leases. He in fact up­dated se­nior cam­paign of­fi­cials re­peat­edly about Wik­iLeaks.”

For that mat­ter, Stone was also con­victed for threat­en­ing to kill a wit­ness named Randy Credico and his beloved dog in a text mes­sage. Also like his pa­tron in the White House, the man is in­fin­itely cun­ning but not real smart.

As for be­ing a felon, far from be­ing ashamed, Stone couldn’t be prouder. To him, it’s a badge of honor. He’s a made man in Boss Trump’s po­lit­i­cal mob.

It has been re­ported that what Sen. Mitt Rom­ney called an act of “un­prece­dented, his­toric cor­rup­tion” was vig­or­ously op­posed by Barr. If so, the at­tor­ney gen­eral has re­sources. The Jus­tice De­part­ment can em­panel a grand jury, grant im­mu­nity to Stone for pre­vi­ous acts and com­pel his tes­ti­mony.

I am not hold­ing my breath.

AS FOR BE­ING A FELON, STONE COULDN’T BE PROUDER. TO HIM, IT’S A BADGE OF HONOR. HE’S A MADE MAN IN BOSS TRUMP’S PO­LIT­I­CAL MOB.

MANUEL BALCE CENETA/AP

Roger Stone ar­rives for his sen­tenc­ing Feb. 20 at fed­eral court in Washington.

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