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Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) was captured in a conversation on a live microphone suggesting to Roger Stone ahead of his 2019 criminal trial that the “big guy” would likely pardon Stone after a guilty verdict, The Washington Post reported Saturday.
Stone — a long-time Republican political operative and devoted Donald Trump ally — was convicted later that year of seven felonies, including obstruction of justice, witness tampering and lying to Congress during the investigation into Kremlin interference into the 2016 presidential election. He was sentenced to 40 months in prison.
Trump publicly praised Stone for not “flipping,” commuted his sentence before it even began in the summer of 2020, then pardoned him shortly before he left 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 that Stone was wearing 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 probably be found guilty at his upcoming trial — but that he likely wouldn’t “do a day in prison.”
“The boss still has a very favorable view of you,” Gaetz assured Stone on the tape, emphasizing that Trump had said so “directly,” adding: “I don’t think the big guy can let you go down for this.”
Stone noted that he could have made this “go away, but I couldn’t live with myself.”
Gaetz indicated that he was already trying to wrangle a pardon for Stone, according to the recording. But he was fearful of saying more because of “many, many recording devices around right now” as various public figures were being interviewed on the scene.
Gaetz also warned Stone that he was named “a lot” in the redacted sections of the investigative report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who conducted the probe into Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election, the Post reported. The public was never provided access to those redacted sections, as Gaetz was.
“They’re going to ‘do’ you, because you’re not gonna have a defense,” Gaetz warned Stone in the recording.
At the time of the conversation, the Judiciary Committee was investigating whether Trump might have obstructed justice by holding out possible pardons to Stone and others who were part of Mueller’s probe.
Mueller’s report noted that it was possible that Trump had lied to investigators about his contacts with Stone, and was aware Stone might provide damaging testimony against him.
The conversation triggered outrage.
Joyce Alene, a former longtime U.S. attorney of the northern district of Alabama, compared the conversation to “how mobsters talk,” referring to the “boss” as still liking an underling. Republican pundit Bill Kristol characterized it as a “criminal enterprise with the power of a pardon.”
In response to the bombshell recording, Gaetz’s office told the Post that the lawmaker wasn’t speaking on Trump’s behalf during his conversation with Stone. A spokesperson also claimed the tape was “illegally recorded.” Under Florida law both parties must be aware that a conversation is being recorded.
The film’s director told the Post that Gaetz was clearly cognizant of recording devices on the scene.
Stone didn’t respond to any specifics about the conversation, but did complain about the Post’s general coverage of Stone and Mueller that he said makes him look bad.
Stone is now being investigated for his activities linked to the Jan. 6 insurrection. He presented an incendiary speech, surrounded by militant Oath Keepers, the night before Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 last year. He urged the crowd to “fight,” and said they were involved in a battle between the “godly and the godless,” between “good and evil.”
Stone also urged Trump to call out the military and seize power if he lost the 2020 election.
Just Matt Gaetz and Roger Stone on a hot mic in 2019 discussing if “The Big Guy,” AKA Trump, would pardon Stone:
“I don’t think The Big Guy will let you go down for this.” pic.twitter.com/riEaOYyNha
— MeidasTouch (@MeidasTouch) July 30, 2022
Check out the entire Washington Post story here.