Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) was captured in a live microphone conversation that Roger Stone suggested ahead of his 2019 criminal trial that the “great man” would likely pardon Stone after a guilty verdict, The Washington Post reported Saturday.
Stone — a longtime Republican political aide and devoted ally to Donald Trump — was convicted later that year of seven felonies, including obstruction of justice, witness tampering, and lying to Congress while investigating the Kremlin’s meddling in the presidential election. 2016. He was sentenced to 40 months in prison.
Trump publicly praised Stone for not “turning around,” commuting his sentence before it even started in the summer of 2020, and then pardoning him shortly before leaving office.
The riveting 25-minute recording of Gaetz and Stone’s conversation at Trump’s National Doral golf resort in Florida in 2019 was captured by a microphone Stone wore on his lapel for a Danish film crew making an upcoming documentary, “A Storm Foretold” — and provided to the Post, the newspaper reported.
Gaetz, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, predicted in the recording that Stone would likely be found guilty at his upcoming trial — but that he probably wouldn’t do a “day in jail.”
“The boss still has a very favorable view of you,” Gaetz Stone assured on the tape, emphasizing that Trump said that “directly,” adding, “I don’t think the big man can let you go for this. “
Stone noted that he could have made this “go away, but I couldn’t live with myself.”
Gaetz indicated that according to the recording, he was already trying to get a pardon for Stone. But he was afraid to say more because of “many, many recording devices currently around,” as several public figures were interviewed on the spot.
Gaetz also warned Stone that he was called “a lot” in the redacted portions of the investigative report of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who led the investigation into Russian meddling in the US presidential election, the Post reported. The public never got access to those redacted sections like Gaetz did.
“They’re going to ‘do’ you because you have no defense,” Gaetz Stone warned in the recording.
At the time of the call, the Judiciary Committee was investigating whether Trump may have obstructed justice by offering possible pardons to Stone and others who were part of Mueller’s investigation.
The Mueller report noted that it was possible that Trump had lied to investigators about his contacts with Stone, and was aware that Stone could give damaging testimony against him.
The conversation sparked outrage.
Joyce Alene, a former U.S. attorney from the Northern District of Alabama, likened the conversation to “how gangsters talk‘, referring to the ‘boss’ who still loves a subordinate. Republican pundit Bill Kristol characterized it as a “criminal enterprise with the power of a pardon.”
In response to the bomb recording, Gaetz’s office told the Post that the lawmaker did not speak on Trump’s behalf during his conversation with Stone. A spokesperson also claimed the tape was “illegally recorded”. Under Florida law, both parties must know that a conversation is being recorded.
The film’s director told the Post that Gaetz was clearly aware of on-site recording equipment.
Stone did not comment on details of the conversation, but did complain about the Post’s general coverage of Stone and Mueller, which he said looked bad.
Stone is now under investigation for his activities in connection with the January 6 uprising. He delivered an incendiary speech surrounded by militant Oathkeepers the night before Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol on January 6 last year. He urged the crowds to “fight” and said they were engaged in a battle between “the godly and the wicked,” between “good and evil.”
Stone also urged Trump to call in the military and take power if he lost the 2020 election.
Check out the entire Washington Post story here.