This is devastating for Trump

A longtime associate of President Trump, Roger Stone is a reliable supporter of his political movement. He has also frequently used his platform to go after reporters and those critical of him and the President.

Posted: Jan 25, 2019 1:30 PM
Updated: Jan 25, 2019 1:30 PM

The arrest of Roger Stone in the early morning hours Friday is another devastating political blow to President Donald Trump. It gives more ammunition to House Democrats to accelerate their own investigation plans, and it will certainly generate more fear among Republicans, even those who continue to stand by the President.

Robert Mueller's indictment of Stone over alleged coordination with Trump officials about stolen emails from WikiLeaks brings the number of Trump associates charged in the special counsel's investigation to six. Many of the indictments have revolved around the ways in which various advisers lied about their connections with Russians during the election as well as their role in trying to obstruct a legitimate investigation into what happened.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders immediately tried to distance the administration from the news in an appearance Friday on CNN's "New Day." She tried the line, "My first reaction is simple: This has nothing to do with the President, and certainly nothing to do with the White House," but the indictment provides more evidence of the highly suspect activities in Trump's orbit during the 2016 campaign and ever since. Stone's indictment, coupled with dramatic footage of his arrest by the FBI, raises more questions about how far the Trump campaign was willing to go to win the election and the efforts it has undertaken to cover up its actions.

The fact that Stone was in Trump's orbit for so long is problematic in itself. For more than four decades, Stone has been part of the underside of Republican politics. Since his work on behalf of President Richard Nixon, when Stone really pioneered the art of "dirty trick politics," which used disinformation and character assassination as the primary means toward victory, he has been willing to sell his talents to whichever candidate was willing to listen to him.

Many Republicans have turned to him for his services since the 1970s, including Ronald Reagan in his 1980 campaign. While Republicans like to talk about the free market ideology and tough national security ideas they have brought to the table as the reason for their political success over the decades, a large number of the top players in the party have also been willing to go really low when it came time to win campaigns.

During his work for Nixon and Reagan, as well as during his time in the 1980s co-heading a major lobbying firm with Paul Manafort that worked with notorious overseas authoritarian leaders, Stone always was willing to get as close to the line of illegal as possible in pursuit of victory and access to power. A recent film about Stone captured him sharing some of the famous sayings that reflect his outlook: "It is better to be infamous than never to be famous at all" and "one man's dirty trick is another man's civil political action."

Trump and Stone have a relationship that goes back many decades. Stone was part of the discussions that resulted in Trump running for the presidency.

What impact will Stone's indictment and arrest have? Legally, the answer is that we just don't know. The ways in which his story and actions fit into the broader findings that Mueller is putting together remain to be seen.

Politically, there's no doubt that this is a damaging development. It comes at a time when the Republican firewall that has protected Trump has shown some slight but serious cracks as a result of the disastrous government shutdown. A number of Republicans voted with the Democratic spending bill that the Senate ended up rejecting. Sandwiched between the Democratic takeover of the House in 2018 and the fears about what will take place in the 2020 election, Republicans are sweating it out every day about what political costs they will pay from ignoring the scandal for so long.

From the beginning, the outcome of the entire investigation has been as much a political as a legal issue, and the dynamics fundamentally changed when Democrats took control of the House. If Trump had any illusions about how firm House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would be in dealing with the chaos caused by this administration, those should have been quickly dispelled during the shutdown crisis. Several committees are now gearing up to launch different kinds of investigations.

Stone's indictment, which gets the investigation so close to the original question of what kind of coordination may have transpired between Trump campaign and Russian officials, is a huge splash of cold water on the President's defenders, who say there is nothing there.

Each week seems to bring further information about the wrongdoing of the people whom Trump surrounded himself with, the people whom he trusted to run his campaign and some who have worked with him ever since.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 926931

Reported Deaths: 9740
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1809132056
Ramsey749811054
Dakota68505591
Anoka64961589
Washington41119367
Stearns34021287
St. Louis29939416
Scott26281188
Wright26260226
Olmsted22677131
Sherburne19206130
Carver1687671
Clay12219108
Blue Earth1162171
Rice11578139
Crow Wing11318124
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Otter Tail9908130
Benton9174128
Beltrami8249100
Goodhue822699
Douglas7967101
Itasca779999
Mower740049
McLeod723384
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Isanti711085
Steele695034
Morrison678681
Becker631675
Polk608987
Freeborn569947
Carlton552577
Mille Lacs539479
Lyon532961
Nicollet528561
Nobles527954
Pine521143
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Brown473661
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Kanabec254437
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Aitkin225052
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Pope209910
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Rock178429
Swift174124
Stevens170211
Jackson162016
Clearwater159421
Marshall154822
Murray152911
Pipestone150929
Lake134124
Lac qui Parle124425
Wilkin122016
Mahnomen108314
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Grant102410
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Lincoln8915
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Red Lake71810
Traverse6086
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Cook3141

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 532160

Reported Deaths: 7379
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk81677809
Linn32838430
Scott27126295
Black Hawk22334382
Woodbury20736263
Johnson20150108
Dubuque18996243
Pottawattamie16215214
Dallas15573115
Story1398059
Warren8637107
Cerro Gordo8141125
Clinton7928115
Webster7419124
Des Moines7153106
Marshall675494
Muscatine6717117
Wapello6546145
Unassigned64520
Jasper630591
Sioux622477
Lee5977106
Marion567697
Buena Vista503449
Plymouth493388
Henry427155
Benton414760
Jones413564
Bremer403873
Boone397042
Washington395464
Carroll373355
Mahaska372366
Crawford355647
Jackson324047
Dickinson317555
Buchanan312743
Delaware303255
Clay297636
Kossuth293477
Fayette290356
Hardin289253
Tama282878
Page276133
Wright270050
Cedar269527
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Hamilton262757
Floyd261049
Clayton252360
Poweshiek242043
Harrison240979
Madison237425
Butler237346
Cass235667
Iowa234336
Jefferson228544
Mills225330
Hancock222840
Winnebago222339
Cherokee217347
Appanoose210157
Lyon209842
Allamakee209456
Calhoun199519
Shelby199542
Union197141
Humboldt188231
Franklin188031
Grundy186137
Chickasaw184522
Mitchell184343
Emmet180146
Louisa178653
Sac175626
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Adair118239
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