As I pointed out yesterday, Mueller has flipped all the major players that he has charged so far. No surprise then that it certainly didn't take long for newly collared Roger Stone to go from "I'll never testify against Donald Trump" to signalling cooperation with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, did it?
Roger Stone, following a pre-dawn arrest at his home in Florida and ahead of an arraignment in Washington on Tuesday, said that he would discuss cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller, if asked.
"You know, that’s a question I would have to –- I have to determine after my attorneys have some discussion," Stone told ABC News' Chief Anchor George Stephanopolous on “This Week” Sunday. "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’d also testify honestly about any other matter, including any communications with the president. It’s true that we spoke on the phone, but those communications are political in nature, they’re benign, and there is –- there is certainly no conspiracy with Russia. The president’s right, there is no Russia collusion."
Stone, 66, President Donald Trump’s longtime friend and a veteran political operative, was arrested after the special counsel filed a seven-count indictment against him as part of an ongoing probe into Russia interference during the 2016 election.
Now anybody who is in a position to know truly how much trouble Roger Stone is in (even a short prison sentence at Stone's age could be a life sentence) can read between the lines that Stone wants a deal here. The question is whther or not Stone has anything to offer Mueller that he doesn't already have.
There's two positions on this, one, that Stone has nothing Mueller wants and that Mueller is going to put him in prison for the rest of his natural life as Daily Beast writer Peter Zeidenberg suggests:
Finally, do not expect to see Special Counsel Robert Mueller make any attempt to flip Stone and have him cooperate. A defendant like Stone is far more trouble than he is worth to a prosecutor. Stone is too untrustworthy for a prosecutor to ever rely upon. He has told so many documented lies, and bragged so often about his dirty tricks, that he simply has too much baggage to deal with even if here to want to cooperate—which seems unlikely in any event. Mueller, I suspect, would not even be willing to engage in a preliminary debrief with Stone to just test the possibility of cooperation out of concern that Stone would immediately go on television with his pals at Fox News to decry Mueller’s Gestapo tactics.
In short, Mueller does not need Stone to get to someone else and, even if he did, he could not rely on whatever Stone told him. Stone has nothing to sell that Mueller would be interested in buying.
Stone is clearly enjoying being in the spotlight now. He should enjoy it while he can. His remaining years won’t be nearly as pleasant.
Position two is Cato Institute's Julian Sanchez and his theory in his op-ed in the NY Times that Stone's electronic communications are the real target.
Of course, as the indictment also makes clear, the special counsel has already managed to get its hands on plenty of Mr. Stone’s communications by other means — but one seeming exception jumps out. In a text exchange between Mr. Stone and a “supporter involved with the Trump Campaign,” Mr. Mueller pointedly quotes Mr. Stone’s request to “talk on a secure line — got WhatsApp?” There the direct quotes abruptly end, and the indictment instead paraphrases what Mr. Stone “subsequently told the supporter.” Though it’s not directly relevant to his alleged false statements, the special counsel is taking pains to establish that Mr. Stone made a habit of moving sensitive conversations to encrypted messaging platforms like WhatsApp — meaning that, unlike ordinary emails, the messages could not be obtained directly from the service provider.
The clear implication is that any truly incriminating communications would have been conducted in encrypted form — and thus could be obtained only directly from Mr. Stone’s own phones and laptops. And while Mr. Stone likely has limited value as a cooperating witness — it’s hard to put someone on the stand after charging them with lying to obstruct justice — the charges against him provide leverage in the event his cooperation is needed to unlock those devices by supplying a cryptographic passphrase.
Of course, Mr. Mueller is likely interested in his communications with Trump campaign officials, but the detailed charges filed against the Russian hackers alleged to have broken into the Democratic National Committee’s servers also show the special counsel’s keen interest in Mr. Stone’s communications with the hacker “Guccifer 2.0,” an identity said to have been used as a front for the Russian intruders. By Mr. Stone’s own admission, he had a brief exchange with “Guccifer” via private Twitter messages. On Mr. Stone’s account, Guccifer enthusiastically offered his assistance — at the same time we now know Mr. Stone was vigorously pursuing advance knowledge of what other embarrassing material stolen from Mr. Trump’s opponents might soon be released — and Mr. Stone failed to even dignify the offer with a reply. With no easy way of getting hold of “Guccifer’s” cellphone, searching Mr. Stone’s devices might be the only reliable way for the special counsel to discover whether the conversation in fact continued on a more “secure line.”
Keep in mind that these possibilities aren't mutually exclusive, either.
Stone certainly should keep it in mind, at least.