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Recorded discussion of Roger Stone and Florida Congressman Gaetz very concerning

Peter Goodman


Many a Law and Order episode, or mob film, features a standard scene: an underling is going to prison, not ratting out his boss, and an associate assures him “the Boss will take care of you.”

But this was real. In October 2019, Roger Stone faced trial in three weeks; redacted portions of the Mueller Report suggested that Stone could implicate Donald Trump in criminal activities; prosecutors were pressing him to do so; a Trump lackey said Stone would certainly be convicted, but that “the Boss” would grant Stone clemency, and Stone wouldn’t “do a day” in prison if he declined to implicate “the Big Guy.” Stone promised he wouldn’t fold.

Ironically, the U.S. House of Representatives Judicial Committee was investigating whether Trump had obstructed justice by, among other things, floating promises of pardons to Stone and other pals. Florida Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz was a member of the House Judicial Committee doing the investigating; Gaetz was also the Trump flunky floating the pardon idea with Stone.

Stone and Gaetz talked backstage at an event. In yet another irony, Gaetz even said, “Since there are many, many recording devices around right now, I do not feel in a position to speak freely about the work I’ve already done” to assure Trump would pardon Stone.

By now you’re mumbling, “Ah, c’mon” or “How could you know that?”

Stone was wearing a microphone. Danish filmmakers were recording. You gotta wonder whether Stone forgot he was miked up, or thought the recording would help him. Maybe Stone winked and Gaetz missed it. You also gotta wonder why Gaetz isn’t looking at a jail term.

What causes no wonder at all is how energetically Trump’s underlings, including lawyers and congresspersons, sought advance pardons before he left office. Newly discovered emails document their fear that their activity might be “treason.” (Ya think? Presenting Congress with an “alternate slate of electors” you know is fake, when there’s no colorable challenge?)

You can’t make this stuff up.

We’d laugh our tails off if this were a Marx Brothers comedy about some banana republic. The dictator, played by Groucho, loses an election, but gets a mob to threaten violence to stop the vote-counting, and even struggles unsuccessfully with his bodyguards, trying to go help his mob break up the vote-counting. His followers shout and scream and commit random acts of violence for hours, while he roots for them on TV, saying nothing to stop them until the police have regained control and the coup attempt is clearly failing. (The writers inserted a scene where the dictator hurls his plate of spaghetti against the mantle in the Palace dining room, but Groucho said that made his character look too childish to be believable.)

Stone was convicted on seven felony counts that November and sentenced to 40 months in prison. Trump publicly praised Stone for not “flipping” on him, commuted Stone’s prison sentence before it began, and eventually pardoned him.

Gaetz hasn’t denied the conversation. He merely claims the recording was illegal. His latest hoof-in-mouth outburst involves saying women who disagree with the Supreme Court on abortion are all fat and ugly. (That’s not only sexist and inaccurate, it’s a head-scratcher coming from a guy whose associate said he paid an underage girl for sex.)

I wish I were making this stuff up. But treason, insurrection, and permanent minority government shouldn’t have any of us laughing.