The flamboyant and controversial former Trump administration adviser who was sentenced Thursday to 40 months in prison – and could stand a chance of getting pardoned – is no stranger to The Villages.
Roger Stone, who was indicted in January 2019 on charges brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller during his Russian collusion probe, received the sentence from U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson in a full courtroom in Washington, D.C. He was convicted on seven felony counts that included lying to investigators, obstructing a congressional investigation and witness intimidation.
Do you agree with the Stone sentence? Share your thoughts in a Letter to the Editor at his link https://www.villages-news.com/submit-letters-editor/
Stone, who is seeking a new trial on the grounds that one of the jurors had a preconceived bias, visited Florida’s Friendliest Hometown in April as a guest of Villagers for Trump, a fast-growing grassroots organization that clearly has become the choice of area Republicans looking to get involved in GOP politics. He received a lengthy standing ovation as he took the stage before a packed-house crowd at Lake Miona Recreation Center.
“Let me tell you the main reason I’m here,” the colorful Stone said, after explaining that he was forbidden by a gag order from discussing his indictment or Mueller’s investigation. “As I have for the last 40 years, I stand with President Donald Trump.”
Stone told the crowd that he first encouraged Trump to run for president in 1988. He said he urged him to run again in 2000 and then in 2012 as well.
“Because I thought correctly that Mitt Romney was a loser,” he said of the Republican nominee who was heavily supported by The Villages Developer and many tri-county residents. “But I now realize that even 2012 was probably too early. It was really only after eight years of Barrack Obama that the voters reached a point where they lost trust in all political institutions – both parties.”
Stone also took a few minutes to examine the Democratic challengers Trump could face in his 2020 re-election bid, starting with Joe Biden, who in October 2008 paid a surprise visit to The Villages to get an ice cream cone at Kilwins Chocolates & Ice Cream in Spanish Springs Town Square. Stone pointed out that a second woman had claimed that Biden “inappropriately” touched her and he said “no one has put more black people or poor people in jail” than Biden.
“I believe Donald Trump would beat him like a drum,” he said to a round of applause.
Stone, who calls Richard Nixon his mentor and has a tattoo of the former president’s face on his back, also talked generically about his arrest when he was taken from his South Florida home in shackles. At the time, he was facing the possibility of up to 50 years in prison and he said in a private interview with Villages-News.com that he appreciates the support of crowds like the one who came to hear him speak in April and in February 2018 during his first visit to The Villages.
“Over 38,000 Americans have contributed to my legal defense fund,” he said. “I find the reaction that people offer me, not only their prayers but their contributions, really heartening.”
Stone blamed some of his woes on the mainstream media, saying they have been predicting for two years that he would be indicted for treason, conspiracy or colluding with Russia – all charges he wasn’t facing.
“I’ve lost my home, my savings, my insurance, my car, and to a great degree, my ability to make a living by speaking about politics,” he said, referring to the gag order. “So, I don’t have the wherewithal to pay for my own legal defense or I would gladly do so. I have no choice but to count on – hopefully before it’s over – millions of Americans who support me and support the president.”
Stone told the crowd that greatness doesn’t come in victory, but rather from how many times you get up when you have been knocked down.
“A man is not finished when he is defeated. He is only finished when he quits,” Stone said, quoting Nixon. “Donald Trump will never quit trying to make America great again and I will never quit trying to clear my name.”
On Thursday, President Trump said Stone has a “very good chance of exoneration” but vowed to let the process play out as the 67-year-old political consultant, author and lobbyist awaits the possibility of a new trial. On the local front, like he did in November, Villagers for Trump Founder David Gee said he wouldn’t be surprised to see the president pardon Stone, especially given the “bias of the Obama-appointed judge” involved in the trial.
“Our club has had Mr. Stone twice and our members believe that he was framed,” he said. “However, anytime we try to predict Mr. Trump, until he acts, nothing is a sure bet.”