Roger Stone is a guy who is already awaiting trial on seven felony counts that could put him in prison for the rest of his life, and is in danger of being sent to jail tomorrow for violating the terms of his bail. As terrible of a situation as Stone is currently in, he’s now suddenly facing a new and arguably even bigger problem.
Roger Stone’s primary residence is in Florida, where the Attorney General is a Republican, and the Governor is an overwhelmingly corrupt Trump-allied Republican. For that reason, there won’t be any state level charges brought against Stone in Florida, and even if there were, the Governor might end up pardoning him anyway. So Stone is in a unique situation where, unlike other Trump henchmen, there are no fallback state-level charges to dissuade Trump from trying to pardon the federal charges, right? Wrong.
When the FBI raided Roger Stone’s home in Florida and arrested him, it also simultaneously raided his apartment in the Bronx. Stone doesn’t appear to spend much time there, but it still means he’s a part time resident of the State of New York. Then throw in the fact that the FBI also raided the Manhattan apartment of Stone’s friend Kristin Davis. She hasn’t been charged with anything, but this does suggest that he was running some of his alleged criminal schemes out of her apartment.
The bottom line: New York can bring state level charges against Roger Stone. He can go into court and argue that the charges should be thrown out because he mostly lives in Florida, but there’s no way Stone would be able to guess whether the judge would see it his way. So if New York were to charge Stone, he could no longer pin his hopes on becoming a free man thanks to a Trump pardon. The question has been whether New York was really going to do this.
We appear to have gotten that answer today, when New York dropped a sixteen count felony indictment on Paul Manafort just a few minutes after Manafort’s federal trial ended. It wasn’t that a grand jury was sitting around and trying to time this indictment; it happened awhile ago, and it’s been under seal. Now that we know New York is sitting on an unknown number of sealed indictments, Roger Stone has to assume one of them is against him.
So if Roger Stone’s strategy has been to sit back and wait for Donald Trump to pardon him, and everything about Stone’s bizarre antics up to now has suggested that this is the case, as of today Stone can no longer bank on that strategy. We all know Trump was never going to pardon Stone anyway, but Stone was desperate enough to buy into the fantasy. Now that fantasy is over, and Stone will need to cut a plea deal against Trump if he wants a shorter sentence.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report