Roger Stone’s indictment — followed by his non-stop media appearances — smothered every other Trump-Russia news story last week. Lying to federal investigators is bad; it reveals what prosecutors call “consciousness of guilt.” Stone’s alleged obstruction of proceedings and false statements carry potential sentences of five years for each offense.
But trying to get others to lie for you is worse — and even more telling. The most serious charge against Stone is witness tampering. Conviction could result in his incarceration for 20 years.
According to the indictment, Stone texted Randy Credico (identified as “Person 2”): “And if you turned over anything to the FBI you’re a fool.”
Later that day, Credico texted Stone: “You need to amend your testimony before I testify on the 15th.”
Stone responded: “If you testify you’re a fool. Because of tromp [sic] I could never get away with a certain [sic] my Fifth Amendment rights but you can. I guarantee you you [sic] are the one who gets indicted for perjury if you’re stupid enough to testify.”
In an Apr. 9, 2018 email, Stone called Credico “a rat” and “a stoolie.” He even threatened to take away his dog.
Culture of Witness Tampering
Stone’s indictment and arrest obscured what otherwise would have been the week’s blockbuster Trump-Russia story: Michael Cohen backed away from a voluntary appearance before the House Intelligence Committee on Feb. 7. His attorney offered reasons that suggested witness tampering — by Trump.
On JAN. 23, 2019, Cohen’s lawyer issued a statement saying: “Due to ongoing threats against his family from President Trump and Mr. Giuliani, as recently as this weekend, as well as Mr. Cohen’s continued cooperation with ongoing investigations, by advice of counsel, Mr. Cohen’s appearance will be postponed to a later date… This is a time where Mr. Cohen had to put his family and their safety first.”
For Cohen, it was the culmination of a journey that began after the FBI executed search warrants against him on APR. 9, 2018. Go to the Timeline, click on Cohen’s name, and consider the context that subsequent entries provide, including these:
APR. 13, 2018: One of Trump’s former attorneys warns him that Cohen will flip. The same day, Trump calls Cohen to “check in” and pardons “Scooter” Libby, even though Libby didn’t have a pardon application pending. In 2007, special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald had prosecuted Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff for lying to the FBI.
APR. 21, 2018: Trump tweets that he “doesn’t see” Michael flipping on him.
But on JULY 20, 2018, The New York Times reports that Cohen secretly recorded conversations with Trump, and federal investigators have the tapes.
JUL. 25, 2018: Trump tweets:“What kind of lawyer would tape a client?”
Then on AUG. 21, 2018, Cohen pleads guilty to campaign finance violations and implicates Trump in his crimes. Throughout SEPTEMBER, Cohen has multiple interview sessions lasting several hours with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators.
OCT. 23, 2018: Trump tells The Wall Street Journal that Cohen “has tremendous legal liability” for taping him.
NOV. 29, 2018: Trump says Cohen is “lying to get a reduced sentence.”
DEC. 3, 2018: Trump adds Cohen’s wife and father-in-law to his twitter attacks.
DEC. 16, 2018: Trump calls Cohen a “rat.”
JAN. 18, 2019: Trump tweets about Cohen, adding, “Watch father-in-law!”
Other Trump Targets
Using the Trump-Russia Timeline name filter reveals other examples of Trump’s carrot-and-stick behavior toward potential witnesses in the Russia investigation.
APR. 25, 2017: As investigators circle Flynn, Trump reportedly sends a message to him: “Stay strong.” Flynn doesn’t.
AUG. 22, 2018: Trump says he would consider pardoning Manafort.
NOV. 28, 2018: Trump says that a Manafort pardon is “on the table.”
AUG. 13, 2018: Stone reiterates that there is “no circumstance under which I would testify against the president.”
DEC. 2-3, 2018: Stone again says there is “no circumstance” under which he would testify against Trump. The next day, Trump quotes Stone in a tweet praising his “guts.” Later that day, Stone invokes the Fifth Amendment in refusing to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
JAN. 25, 2019: Immediately after his bond hearing, Stone appears before reporters and protesters, saying, “There is no circumstance whatsoever under which I will bear false witness against the president, nor will I make up lies to ease the pressure on myself.”
Trump can’t solve every potential witness problem by dangling presidential pardons — carrots. For someone who doesn’t face the threat of federal prosecution, they’re worthless. The Timeline name filter reveals that Trump not only dangles such carrots, but also uses sticks — relentless personal attacks. As with Cohen, those attacks are happening in plain sight too. Just ask James Comey.
Here’s a complete list of the latest updates to the Trump-Russia Timeline:
JUNE 16, 2015: Trump Announces His Candidacy; Secret Trump Tower-Moscow Discussions Continue (revision of previous entry)
AUG. 6, 2015: Stone Formally Leaves Campaign, Maintains Contact Through Election (revision of previous entry)
JUNE 12-14, 2016: WikiLeaks Has Clinton Emails; DNC Tries to Get Ahead of Hacking Story (revision of previous entry)
JUNE – JULY 2016: Stone Speaks to Senior Campaign Officials About WikiLeaks
ON OR SHORTLY AFTER JULY 22, 2016: Someone Directs ‘Senior Trump Campaign Official’ to Contact Stone About Additional WikiLeaks Releases
JUL. 25, 2016: Stone Tells Corsi to Get WikiLeaks’ Hacked Emails (revision of previous entry)
JUL. 31, 2016: Stone to Corsi: ‘Malloch Should See Assange’ (revision of previous entry)
AUG. 2-11, 2016: Corsi Informs Stone of WikiLeaks’ Plans, Suggests Attacking Clinton’s Health; Stone Talks to Trump; Hannity Helps (revision of previous entry)
AUG. 8, 2016: Stone Says He’s Communicated With WikiLeaks Founder (revision of previous entry)
AUG. 19-21, 2016: Credico to Stone: Assange to Appear on Credico’s Radio Show
AUG. 23, 2016: Stone Appears on Credico’s Radio Show
AUG. 25-26, 2016: Assange Appears on Credico’s Show, Talks About Stone
AUG. 27, 2016: Credico to Stone: Assange Has ‘Kryptonite on Hillary’
SEPT. 18-30, 2016: Stone Asks Credico to Pass Along Request to Assange; Credico Sends Photo (revision of previous entry)
SEPT. 21, 2016: Stone Says He’s Spoken With Trump
OCT. 1-2, 2016: Stone to Credico: ‘Hillary’s Campaign Will Die This Week’
OCT. 3-4, 2016: Stone Assures Trump Supporters: ‘The Payload is Coming’; Discusses WikiLeaks and Raising $$$ With Bannon (revision of previous entry)
OCT. 6-7, 2016: Intelligence Community Publishes Statement on Russian Interference; Stone to Corsi: ‘Tell Assange to Start Dumping’; Access Hollywood Tapes Released (revision of previous entry)
NOV. 2, 2016: Stone Says He Speaks With Trump Weekly
NOV. 10, 2016: Stone Speaks With Trump
MAY 8, 2017: Trump Posts Angry Tweets on the Day of Yates’ Testimony (revision of previous entry)
SEPT. 25-26, 2017: Stone Decries Congressional Hearings (revision of previous entry)
OCT. 19, 2017: Stone Tells Credico to Confirm Stone’s Lie
NOV. 19 – DEC 12, 2017: Stone Tells Credico to Resist Investigation: ‘Stonewall it’, ‘If You Testify, You’re a Fool’
DEC. 24, 2017: Credico and Stone Discuss Russian Investigation
APR. 9, 2018: Stone Threatens Credico
MAY 21, 2018: Credico To Stone: ‘You’ve Opened Yourself up to Perjury Charges’
AUG. 8, 2018 to JAN. 24, 2019: Trump Drags Feet on New Russian Sanctions, Again (revision of previous entry)
AUG. 13, 2018: Stone: ‘Will Not Testify Against the President’
AUG. 22, 2018: Trump ‘Would Consider’ Pardoning Manafort (revision of previous entry)
DEC. 2, 2018: Stone: ‘No Circumstance’ Under Which He Would Testify Against Trump
JAN. 15-22, 2019: ‘Sex Training Expert’ Claiming Deripaska Connection is Deported to Russia, Arrested, Apologizes (revision of previous entry)
JAN. 18, 2019: Trump Tweets About Cohen: ‘Watch Father-in-Law!’
JAN. 21, 2019: Emin Agalarov Cancels US/Canada Tour
JAN. 22, 2019: Trump Tweets About Steele Dossier, ‘Illegal’ Russia Investigation, ‘Unconstitutional Hoax’
JAN. 23, 2019: Cohen Cites Threats in Postponing House Testimony; Cummings and Schiff Want to Move Forward
JAN. 24, 2019: Trump Tweets About Cohen, Clinton; Senate Subpoenas Cohen
JAN. 24-25, 2019: Roger Stone Indicted, Arrested; Trump Tweets; Stone Remains Defiant
JAN. 25, 2019: Sanders/Sekulow Respond to Stone Indictment
JAN. 26, 2019: Trump Tweets About Stone, Comey, Brennan, Clapper, Strzok, Lisa Page, Hillary…‘WITCH HUNT!’
JAN. 27, 2019: Treasury Confirms Lifting Sanctions on Deripaska’s Companies
Steven J. Harper is the creator and curator of the Trump-Russia Timeline appearing at Dan Rather’s News & Guts and at Just Security. He is an attorney, adjunct professor at Northwestern University Law School, and author of four books, including Crossing Hoffa — A Teamster’s Story (Chicago Tribune “Best Book of the Year”) and The Lawyer Bubble — A Profession in Crisis. He blogs at The Belly of the Beast. Follow him on Twitter (@StevenJHarper1).