Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) was heard on a hot mic assuring Roger Stone that he would be pardoned, telling Stone he had been in “talks” with Trump, and, though the congressman expected that Stone would be found guilty, the longtime Republican operative wouldn’t “do a day” in prison.
“The boss still has a favorable view of you,” said Gaetz, stressing that the president had, “said it directly.” He also said, “I don’t think the big guy can let you go down for this,” The Washington Post reports.
Video captured by Danish filmmakers Christopher Guldbrandsen and Frederik Marbell for their documentary on Stone, A Storm Foretold, records a conversation between Gaetz and the Trump loyalist over Stone’s concerns he was going down in the Mueller investigation.
“I’m going to go…I’ll go down hard though. I’ll fight it right to the bitter end,” said Stone.
“Yeah, but I don’t think you’re going to go down at all a the end of the day,” replied Gaetz.
“Well, we’ll see. We’re three weeks from trial,” Stone replied.
Backstage at a 2019 conference held at the then-president’s National Doral golf resort, the audio was picked up by a mic on Stone’s lapel. The self-proclaimed “dirty trickster” is heard telling Gaetz “I may have to appeal to the big man because I’ve got…it’s the District of Columbia. We surveyed 120 jurors. Ninety of them know who I am, and they hate my guts. Voluntarily,” he said.
Charged with obstruction of a congressional investigation by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III for lying to Congress, both Trump and his loyalist denied any communication about the WikiLeaks 2016 release of emails from the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
That testimony was contradicted by multiple Trump aides.
As a member of the House Judiciary Committee – which was at the time investigating whether Trump floated pardons in attempts to obstruct the investigation – the Florida congressman was shown unredacted copies of the heavily redacted Mueller report.
“We saw the skinny redaction, and there was, you know, there was a lot on you that was in the full redact that came out in the skinny redact,” Gaetz said. “They’re going to do you because you’re not gonna have a defense,” he told Stone.
In November 2019, loyalty to Trump paid off. After being convicted on seven felony counts and sentenced to almost 3.5 years in prison, the former president commuted Stone’s sentence, before eventually pardoning his longtime ally.
The televised House Select Committee hearings revealed that Congressman Gaetz himself had asked Trump for a pardon. While most of his colleagues were looking to be absolved for their seditious roles in trying to overthrow the government, the Florida representative sought a blanket pardon for any and all crimes he may have committed – ever.
Roger Stone is at the center of the violence of Jan. 6th, named in testimony from Oath Keepers who’ve already pled guilty to seditious conspiracy, and Matt Gaetz is under federal investigation for child sex trafficking.
It doesn’t appear either will be getting thrown a last-minute lifeline this go around.
I reached out to Stone for comment on the video, and am still awaiting a reply.
Original reporting by Jon Swaine and Dalton Bennett at The Washington Post.
Follow Ty Ross on Twitter @cooltxchick