By Roger Stone (Part 1)
I once tweeted that “John Podesta’s time in the barrel will come.”
Well, friends, at the risk of having my barrel comments absurdly interpreted as some of sort of obscure racist slur as General John Kelly’s comment about Congressional cowgirl Frederica Wilson was this past week, put on your polka shoes because it may be time to roll out the barrel…or roll out the barrels, I should say: one for John Podesta and another for his brother and business partner, Tony Podesta.
The two Podestas – the “Podestae”, if you will — have run a highly-lucrative influence peddling shop since the first days of Bill Clinton’s presidency, and continued their nefarious self-enrichment orgy at public expense well through the Obama reign.
Just yesterday it was revealed that special counsel Robert Mueller is now investigating Tony Podesta, brother of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.
Of course, it was this inevitable scrutiny of the Podestas’ underhanded business dealings that my “time in the barrel” referred to and not, as some have quite falsely claimed, to the hacking and publication almost two months later of John Podesta’s emails.
Factcheck.org reported the plain truth that there is absolutely no evidence anywhere in the substantial public record of campaign 2016 to substantiate the cynical partisan allegation by, among others, California Democrat and ranking member of the House Intelligence committee, that I predicted the Podesta email hack.
In a House hearing on March 20, 2017, Schiff stated:
“[I]n August, Stone does something truly remarkable when he predicts that John Podesta’s personal emails will soon be published. “Trust me,” he says, “it will soon be Podesta’s time in the barrel, hashtag #CrookedHillary.” In the weeks that follow, Stone shows a remarkable prescience. “I have total confidence that WikiLeaks and my hero, Julian Assange, will educate the American people soon,” he says, hashtag, “#LockHerUp.” “Payload coming,” he predicts. And two days later, it does. WikiLeaks releases its first batch of Podesta emails. The release of John Podesta’s emails would then continue on a daily basis up until the election.” [Emphasis added.]
Schiff continued his allegation by asking, “Is it a coincidence that Roger Stone predicted that [Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman] John Podesta would be a victim of a Russian hack and have his private emails published, and did so even before Mr. Podesta himself was fully aware that his private emails would be exposed?”
Schiff’s defamatory claim is a conclusory leap that simply does not hold to any honest, logical or factual scrutiny. He simply assumes for his own purposes that my August 21 Tweet about “Podesta’s time in the barrel” had to have been a reference to the release of Podesta’s emails by WikiLeaks two months later.
On ABC’s “This Week” on March 26, I flatly denied that I predicted Podesta’s emails would be hacked, adding — correctly — that nothing in the Tweet, “made any reference to John Podesta’s email.” Nothing in the context of my Twitter feed in which the Tweet was posted would support Schiff’s claim either. I told ABC’s This Week that my Tweet referred to Podesta’s business dealings with Russia, and the expectation that it would become a news story, before too long.
But inexplicably Factcheck.org, rather negating the whole purpose of having an organization by that name, posted a note saying “just because there is no proof whatsoever that something happened doesn’t mean it didn’t.” Thankfully we haven’t sunk quite to the point in which this passes for an evidentiary standard.
It is important to understand the context of that Tweet. Paul Manafort, who is one of my oldest friends in politics and usher in my wedding to Nydia Bertran de Espinosa (Stone), was being hounded in a media frenzy based on financial records of the political party Manafort was then legally working for being splashed all over page one of the New York Times.
We now know that a ledger reportedly showing payments to Manafort of $12 million were a forgery. The Ukrainian prosecutor handling the Manafort investigation debunked the purported ledger entirely, saying that Manafort is not a target of any impending indictment. You will not, however, read this fact in the New York Times.
Nonetheless, if Manafort’s business activities in the region were going to get scrutiny it was only fair that the Podesta Brothers’ adventures also be exposed to the public.
The Clintons were obsessed with Manafort’s reputation as a hyper-organized hard-driving political operative with extensive national experience. Those of us in the Trump Camp new that the Clinton political operation was scouring Russia and Ukraine to find negative dirt on my fellow Connecticut native, Manafort.
In Ukraine, these matters were handled by Ukrainian intelligence at the direction of Ukrainian billionaire Victor Pinchuk, who essentially paid the Clinton Foundation so much money that he was able to overturn the democratically-elected and U.S.-recognized government of Ukraine in a coup.
The Podesta brothers’ extensive business dealings were first revealed in the “Panama Papers”, published in January 2016, as reported by the Observer in “Panama Papers Reveal Clinton’s Kremlin Connection”, published on April 7, 2016.
Around August 1, 2016, Dr. Jerome Corsi briefed me in a conversation in which he detailed the extent and breadth of the Podesta’s business dealings. I asked Corsi to memorialize his outline in a memo. I must again stress that all of this had been reported and was public information, available to anyone who knew where to look.
Both Manafort and the Podesta’s retroactively-filed reports pursuant to the Foreign Agent Registration Act, though I think it can be fairly argued that neither was actively engaged in any lobbying. There are some lawyers who argue that attempting to effectuate public opinion in the United States while being paid by foreign entity requires registration. Presumably out of an abundance of caution both Manafort and the Podestas filed.
Back in August 2016, CNN reported that the FBI was investigating Paul Manafort’s ties to Russia and the Podesta Group to the Ukrainian government and the alleged corruption by the party of former Ukranian president Victor Yanukovych.
On August 19, CNN further reported that the Podesta Group issued a statement affirming that the Group had retained the Washington-based boutique law firm of Caplin & Drysdale “to determine if we were misled by the Center for a Modern Ukraine or any other individuals with potential ties to foreign governments or political parties.”
The Podesta Group statement to CNN continued: “When the Center became a client, it certified in writing that ‘none of the activities of the Center are directly or indirectly supervised, directed, controlled, financed or subsidized in whole or in part by a government of a foreign country or a foreign political party.’ We relied on that certification and advice from counsel in registering and reporting under the Lobbying Disclosure Act rather than the Foreign Agents Registration Act.”
“We will take whatever measures are necessary to address this situation based on Caplin & Drysdale’s review, including possible legal action against the Center,” concluded the Podesta Group’s statement.
That same August 19, Buzz Feed reported that the Podesta Group and Manafort’s D.C. political firm were working under contract with the same group advising Yanukovych and his Ukrainian Party of Regions – namely the non-profit European Center for a Modern Ukraine based in Brussels.
Way back in 2013, Reuters reported the European Center for a Modern Ukraine paid $900,000 to the Podesta Group for a two-year contract aimed at improving the image of the Yanukovych government in the United States and that the Podesta Group told Reuters that they were implementing the contract via their contacts with key congressional Democrats.
Mainstream media attention has focused on the contract Manafort’s K-Street firm of Davis, Manafort & Freedman had from all the way back in 2007 with Yanukovych’s political party, Ukraine’s Party of Regions to perform an “extreme makeover,” re-positioning the party from being perceived as a “haven for Donetsk-based mobsters and oligarchs” into that of a legitimate political party.
On February 21, 2014, Russian leader Vladimir Putin helped then-President Yanukovych to flee violent protests seeking to oust him from office, flying him out of Ukraine and then traveling through Crimea, to arrive in Russia, where he has remained, trying desperately to restore himself to power back home in Kiev.
Just as the Trump/Russia collusion propaganda continued making headlines, the Manafort/Russia investigation was churning away, despite its lack of any evidence and documentation. In Manafort’s case, opponents have failed to demonstrate that Manafort ever received $12.7 million in some 22 previously-undisclosed cash payments from Yanukovych’s pro-Russian party, as purportedly documented by entries in a “black ledger” revealed by Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau.
Yet, this dubious, unverified “evidence” was sufficient for New York Times reporters to conclude that Manafort had hidden back-channel ties to Putin, financed by under-the-table payments arranged via Ukraine.
Ironically Putin has little use for Manafort because Manafort strongly urged Yanukovych to take Ukraine into the European Union, a move obviously opposed bitterly the Russians. Manafort did evidently briefly represent Russian oligarch and Putin crony, Oleg Vladimirovich Deripaska, but it was none other than U.S. Senator John McCain who met privately with Deripaska during McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign, despite being warned twice by the FBI that Deripaska was a Russian asset. A source has informed me that McCain solicited money from Deripaska for the Republican Institute McCain controlled and which was legally able to accept foreign funds.
This is how the Democrat Party builds a “case” against President Trump, layering one unproven accusation on top of another, forming a chain of “evidence” that, at least to them, looks like an open-and-shut case, but in truth is nothing but a string of unsubstantiated innuendo that wouldn’t make it past the desk of any honest prosecutor or court of law.
Mainstream media, led by the drain-swirling New York Times serially reports every loose allegation and partisan leap to convenient, albeit false, conclusions and suddenly, BAM, it is news! This is what they do. This is why the term “fake news” has become a truer description than President Trump ever thought when he first coined it in the national lexicon.
Following the initial “charge”, the Democratic Party narrative charges alleges that Manafort never registered as a foreign agent with the U.S. Justice Department, which that would only have been required if he was contracted with the Ukrainian government, not with a political party in the Ukraine, and further that Manafort transferred his close relationship with Putin (via Yanukovych) to the Trump campaign.
From there, the Democrat narrative keeps going, suggesting that Manafort’s close relationship to the Kremlin allowed him to position the Trump campaign to receive a dump of embarrassing Clinton campaign hacked exposing the efforts Debbie Wasserman Schultz, as chairman of the DNC, took to rig the primaries for Hillary, and distinctly disadvantage her challenger, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders.
But this entire Democrat Party narrative is thrown into disarray if it turns out the Podesta brothers, via the Podesta Group, have tighter and better-documented financial ties to Russia, involving far more numerous and tangled contacts than have ever been suggested to tie Manafort to Russia via Ukraine.
Among the revelations made public through the 11.5 million documents leaked by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists detailing the legal and financial arrangements behind secretive off-shore banking transactions dating back to the 1970’s was the disclosure that Russia’s largest bank, the state-owned Sberbank, uses the Podesta Group as its registered lobbyist in Washington.
“Sberbank (Savings Bank in Russian) engaged the Podesta Group to help its public image—leading Moscow financial institutions not exactly being known for their propriety and wholesomeness—and specifically to help lift some of the pain of sanctions placed on Russia in the aftermath of the Kremlin’s aggression against Ukraine, which has caused real pain to the country’s hard-hit financial sector,” wrote former National Security Agency analyst and counterintelligence officer John R. Schindler in an article entitled “Panama Papers Reveal Clinton’s Kremlin Connection” published by the Observer on April 7, 2016.
On April 17, 2014, the Moscow Times reported Ukraine opened criminal proceedings against Sberbank and 13 other banks on suspicion of “financing terrorism.” Schindler noted the Ukrainian criminal investigation concluded Sberbank had distributed millions of dollars in illegal aid to Russian-backed separatists fighting in eastern Ukraine, with the bank serving as “a witting supporter of Russian aggression against Ukraine.”
On April 5, 2016, Lachlan Markay, reporting in the Washington Free Beacon, published the lobbying registration form the Podesta Group filed with the U.S. government proving Sberbank had contracted with the Podesta Group to advance their interests with banking, trade, and foreign relations. It doesn’t end there.
On Aug. 20, 2016, Breitbart reporter Jerome Hudson documented that the Podesta Group was paid a total of $180,000, according to public records, for the consulting work done under contract with the Russia-controlled firm Uranium One in 2012, 2014, and 2015.
As first documented in Peter Schweizer’s bestselling book “Clinton Cash,” and confirmed in Jerome Corsi’s bestselling book “Partners in Crime: The Clinton’s Scheme to Monetize the White House,” Uranium One directed millions to the Clinton Foundation as the Russian government gained ownership of the company.
Uranium One’s chairman used his family foundation to make four donations totaling $2.35 million. Those contributions were not publicly disclosed by the Clintons; despite an agreement Mrs. Clinton had struck with the Obama White House to publicly identify all donors. Other people with ties to the company made donations as well.”
The Daily Caller reported on April 29, 2015, that the Podesta group was to lobby the State Department while Hillary was secretary of state, with $40,000 of the total paid to lobby the State Department, the Senate, and the National Security Council on “international mining projects.”
According to a New York Times report published August 13, 2013, in 2011 a wave of mid-level program staff members departed the Clinton Foundation, “reflecting the frustration of much of the foundation’s policy personnel with the old political hands running the organization.”
Around that time, in 2011, Bruce Lindsey, then the Clinton Foundation’s CEO, suffered a stroke, underscoring concerns about the foundation’s line of succession. Who stepped in to replace Lindsey for several months as temporary chief executive? None other than John D. Podesta, a chief of staff in William Jefferson Clinton’s White House, stepped in.
It’s not hard to realize that the links between Podesta and Russia are well documented and go back many years.