Welcome back to Pothead of the Week, where we break down a handful of the important things that have occurred in the past seven days involving famous people and cannabis.
Lots of politics happened this week (surprise!). There was yet another bout of noncommittal thrusting in the ongoing and vigorous clusterfuck that is the Republican Party’s attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act; a series of hearings with Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch that ended with the news that Senate Democrats plan to filibuster Gorsuch’s confirmation vote; and a pair of disclosures from FBI director James Comey acknowledging both that there is no evidence to back up Donald Trump’s claim that Barack Obama had him wiretapped (potentially by British intelligence), and that the feds have been investigating the Trump campaign’s potential ties to Russian ratfuckery in the Presidential election since July.
If there is indeed a connection between Trump’s crew and the Russkies, it may very well involve Roger Stone, a longtime Trump associate whose roots in underhanded political maneuvering trace back to the Nixon administration. As Maggie Haberman of the New York Times laid out earlier this week, Stone has boasted of being in communication with both Wikileaks’ Julian Assange as well as the (probable) Russian-sponsored hacker Guccifer 2.0––the latter of whom hacked the Democratic National Committee and then handed what they found to Assange to publish on Wikileaks––and seemed to possess advanced knowledge of the disclosures themselves. And when Democrat Adam Schiff of California brought Stone’s name up during Comey’s appearance before the House Intelligence Committee, the FBI director refused to comment.
Stone, for his part, maintains his innocence. “There is still not an iota of proof that anyone in the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians,” he told Haberman in that same piece. By the end of the week, Stone had doubled down, claiming that not only was the government lying about surveilling Trump and sending rambling emails to CNN’s Jake Tapper in which he called Adam Schiff a “pussy.”
This is a lot to take in, sure, but it barely scratches the surface of Roger Stone, a man who stands tall among the motley crew of ridiculous right-wing goons that makes up Trump’s inner circle by being the most ridiculous and most goonish of them all. “Politics is show business for ugly people,” Stone once said in a 2016 Rolling Stone interview, before going on to advocate for loyalty oaths, claim the 1952 Republican National Convention was rigged, and casually threaten reporter Janet Reitman’s life.
Stone’s history is too convoluted and downright bizarre to relay in its totality, but here’s a CliffsNotes version: He got his start in politics when he was still in college, serving as a foot soldier for Richard Nixon’s Committee to Re-elect the President, where, per a batshit insane profile in the conservative-leaning Weekly Standard, he was tasked with making donations to Nixon’s enemies on behalf of phony socialist organizations and planting a mole in Hubert Humphrey’s campaign. While serving as the Northeast Chairman of Ronald Reagan’s 1980 presidential campaign, Stone fell in with Roy Cohn, the notorious anti-communist prosecutor who worked closely with Senator Joseph McCarthy who by then had settled into a second career as consigliere to several New York mafia figures and just so happened to play mentor to a young Donald Trump. During the 1980’s, a 2008 New Yorker piece notes, Stone formed a lobbying firm with Trump’s eventual campaign manager Paul Manafort, where in addition to advocating on behalf of foreign dictators such as Mobuto Sese Seko and Ferdinand Marcos, he tried to secure landing space at LaGuardia for Trump Airlines. He oversaw Trump’s ill-fated run as a Reform Party candidate in the 2000 presidential election, which the Weekly Standard’s Matt Labash suggested was an elaborate attempt on Stone’s part to kill off the Reform Party for good, thereby freeing George W. Bush from any Ralph Nader-style third-party spoilers. And after he was done with Trump, Stone helped orchestrate the 2000 “Brooks Brothers riot,” in which Republican operatives wearing suits wrought havoc upon a Miami recount, causing so much chaos that the recount was shut down before completion.
In addition to his professional resume, Stone is an extremely weird dude––he’s kind of like what would happen if your crypto-fascist libertarian dad got hit on the head and woke up thinking he was the Dos Equis guy. He is a 64-year-old man whose Instagram features pictures of him bodybuilding, a painting of him dressed up like Napoleon, and inspirational quotes from himself. In addition to working for nearly every Republican presidential candidate since the 1970s, he is a self-appointed style maven who runs a menswear blog as a hobby––his sartorial sense ranges from “racehorse owner casual” to “racehorse owner on derby day”—and, for a while, wore an eyepatch that made him look like the bad guy from Thunderball. He’s obsessed with the Kennedy assassination to the point that he once wrote an entire book accusing Lyndon Johnson of offing JFK. He is responsible for breaking the prostitution scandal that ended the career of former New York governor Elliot Spitzer, whose dalliances with escorts Stone first caught wind of while gossiping at a swingers club (also, he and his wife are swingers). And most significantly for the purposes of this column, he loves weed.
Take a gander at the above video, in which Roger Stone gives a tour of the shrine to Richard Nixon he has in his house, which includes a cabinet containing a bunch of Nixon-themed smoking paraphernalia. He owns a bong in the shape of Richard Nixon’s head, which judging by the fact that he’s referenced it ten times on Twitter, might be his most prized possession. He also owns a Nixon hash pipe (four references on Twitter), as well as this weird Nixon figurine with a hole in it that you’re supposed to smoke weed out of (Twitter references indeterminable). And to top it all off, he claims to be developing a strain of weed called “Tricky Dick,” which he quipped to both Rolling Stone and his own camera guy immediately makes its smoker “paranoid, then [...] want to go to a Chinese restaurant.”
“Roger Stone is a stone-cold loser,” Donald Trump told The New Yorker in 2008. Yet in 2015, when nobody believed Trump had a snowball’s chance in a slow-cooker of becoming president, he enlisted Stone as his top adviser. He left the campaign in August 2015 under ambiguous circumstances––according to him, he quit; according to Trump, he got fired––but Stone’s fingerprints were all over Trump’s platform even after he left. He remained a vocal Trump advocate after his departure from the campaign: he helped push Trump’s conspiracy theory that Ted Cruz’s dad played a hand in the JFK assassination, threatened to disclose the hotel room numbers of Republican National Convention delegates who were considering not voting for Trump, and suggested the November presidential election would be invalid unless Trump won. Oh yeah, and he might have been talking to the Russians on behalf of Trump.
Ironically, if Stone ends up being the guy who sends Donald Trump’s nascent kleptocracy up in flames, weed might play a bit part in the whole Grand Guignol. In the Weekly Standard profile of Stone I referenced earlier, Stone mentions wanting to take the writer on a work trip to Ukraine, which would give him an excuse to stop in Amsterdam for, as he puts it, “all the obvious reasons.” At the time, Stone was quietly working for the amazingly named Volodymyr Lytvyn, a pro-Russia Ukrainian politician who would eventually become chairman of the country’s parliament. Lytvyn eventually formed a coalition with former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, yet another pro-Russian Ukrainian politician who, it was recently alleged, had been making secret payments to Paul Manafort in 2009. While Stone’s connection to Lytvyn is by no means a smoking gun, it serves as yet another example of members of Trump’s camp having cozied up financially to pro-Russian interests in the past. (*Hits bong*) Stone’s involvement with Lytvyn was relatively low-key––if he hadn’t used his association with the Ukrainian politician as the subtext to tell to a reporter about how he wanted to go to Amsterdam, it’s possible that his employment by Lytvyn would have gone unmentioned in the American press. (*Hits bong while listening to Peter Tosh and watching Borat on mute*)
In closing, Roger Stone snitched on himself because he wanted to seem edgy and talk about weed, and that Richard Nixon bong looks like a fucking nightmare to smoke out of.
Follow Drew on Twitter.