Roger J. Stone, Jr. Where does one even begin?
I’m not even going to try to tee this up. If you are unfamiliar with him, let me Google it for you. And of course there’s this –which, is, by the way, the second best profile of a personality that has ever been written. Ever. Read it. (And what is the best profile ever written, you ask? Why, it’s this, of course.)
Aside from being perhaps the actual Most Interesting Man In The World (or certainly one of them), Roger is making both news and trouble once again, this time with a shocker of a book that makes a quite compelling case that Lyndon Johnson masterminded, organized, and carried out the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The Man Who Killed Kennedy: The Case Against LBJ, comes out this week. It is, at the very least, a really great read.
I caught up with my old friend to talk about the book and what it’s like being Roger Stone.
CJ: Hi Roger. How’s life?
RS: Great! Mrs. Stone and I split our time between New York City and Miami Beach, Florida, with our five dogs, including Oscar, the three-legged rescue dog and our three cats. We call it Stone’s animal farm.
CJ: Nice. For the benefit of our readers, talk a bit about where you come from. What kind of family did you grow up in? What were you like as a young man, and what attracted you to politics?
RS: I was born in the industrial area of Norwalk, CT — an overwhelmingly blue-collar and Catholic community. My father was a well driller and my mother was a small town newspaper reporter. Both my parents were apolitical although nominally Republican. My grandfather was the chauffeur for a very wealthy man in New Canaan. Because my grandfather aspired to be wealthy some day he emulated his employer by registering as a Republican. Although my parents were Republicans, I always suspected that they voted for our first catholic president, John F. Kennedy. As a kid I aspired to be an actor. My parents correctly thought I would starve if I made this my life’s work. In 1964 our next-door neighbor Lee gave me a copy of Conscience of a Conservative by Senator Barry Goldwater and I was transfixed. I knew then that conservatism would be my cause and politics would be my vocation. A letter I wrote to former Vice President Richard Nixon in 1966 would ultimately lead to a position in Nixon’s comeback campaign and a lifetime relationship with our 37th president.
CJ: Here’s something I’ve always meant to ask you about but never have. I worked for a time for Sue Kelly several years ago while she was representing the 19th district of New York in Congress. She used to tell me, in a very boastful fashion, that she gave you your first break in politics. Fact?
RS: Complete bullshit. I successfully managed the campaign of Jack Hicks-Beach over incumbent liberal Bradlee Boal for the Westchester County legislature when Hamilton Fish was our congressman and Sue Kelly had not yet run for public office. Sue and her husband backed Boal. I slaughtered him in one of the nastiest campaigns in Westchester history.
CJ: She made a lot of stuff up, so I’m not surprised. Anyway, the media love to depict you as a “Dirty Trickster,” “Political Hitman” and worse. Does this make you sad, Roger?
RS: The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about. Politics ain’t beanbag. The political strategist who fails to frame the debate and dominate the dialogue always loses. The political consultant who always loses is very popular. In 1981 I handled a nine way primary for Governor of New Jersey for Tom Kean. He won. I made one good friend and eight enemies.
CJ: You rose to fame, or infamy, as a GOP operative working alongside the likes of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. But in recent years, I’ve seen you linked to everyone from Donald Trump to Al Sharpton to Libertarian presidential candidate Governor Gary Johnson. Republicans not doing it for you anymore?
RS: Unlike some in politics, I believe you can disagree without being disagreeable. I have an eclectic span of friends that include liberals and Democrats and many reporters. At the same time I still think Chris Matthews is an insufferable asshole, by the way. I do feel that the Republican party has wandered from its traditional moorings and has morphed into a big government party which abets the violation of our civil liberties through government spying, pursues foreign wars where the interests of the United States are not clear and, despite all the talk about fiscal conservatism, engages in wild spending and debt that would make a drunken sailor blush.
CJ: You flirted with a run for Florida Governor as a Libertarian, tell me about that.
RS: I have sadly concluded that I am not candidate material. I don’t suffer fools gladly and believe a media focus on my … er … colorful personal life would only distract from the larger public policy issues of a campaign.
CJ: Remember when you called RNC Chairman Reince Priebus “Rance Penis” on national TV? That was awesome.
RS: The Republican National Committee tried to aggressively block Libertarian presidential candidate Governor Gary Johnson from the ballot in numerous states. Why do they fear competition? I am proud to say that I helped Johnson get on the ballot in 48 states in a difficult, expensive, and daunting challenge. I’m not sure who’s the bigger dope, Reince Priebus or Mitt Romney. The GOP managed to nominate the most inauthentic guy in the race — but then look at the field. No giants there.
CJ: I do salute you for the great work you did for Gov. Johnson. He’s a great man. So what’s your proudest professional accomplishment? That you can talk about, I mean…
RS: I am proud to have played a small role in the election of Ronald Reagan as President of the United States. I served as his national youth director in 1976 and as his northeast political director in1984. Reagan restored America’s faith in itself. He is greatest President in my lifetime although Eisenhower is very underrated.
CJ: Darkest moment in the game?
RS: I’ve never really had a bad day. Even when I’ve lost I still love the game. It beats working at McDonalds.
CJ: In more recent years, you’ve gained another kind of notoriety – for being a bit of a Dandy. Tell me a bit about your personal style, your blog, and your decision to pick up the annual best and worst dressed list which many assumed had died with its late, legendary founder, Mr. Blackwell.
RS: How you look is an extension of how you feel about yourself and how you want to be seen. Dressing well does not need to be expensive. The state of men’s fashion today is horrendous. The advent of “casual Fridays” is symptomatic of an overall decline in our standards regarding what is right and wrong about the way Americans dress. Sadly, fashion today is more motivated by economics than aesthetics. Men are seen in both business and social settings in running shoes, tracksuits, sweats, T-shirts, and caps, which advertise either a sports team or a brand of farm tractor. Women are seen outside the gym in spandex workout ensembles and hoodies. It’s so wrong. It makes you wonder how many of our fellow Americans can possibly look in the mirror and say “Wow, I look great today” while wearing the crap that passes for fashion. While fashion is about fads and what is ‘in’ now, style is a personal factor that cannot be learned or taught — either you have it or you don’t.
CJ: Keep going…
RS: Style is, in fact, the direct opposite of fashion. Fashion is a look that is temporarily ‘in.’ Fashion is people imitating each other. It’s about fitting in and looking like everyone else. Style on the other hand, is about individuality; what sets one apart from the crowd. Yet that style must be bound by rules of good taste and the uses of colors, styles and cuts that accentuate your attributes and hide your flaws. White pants make a woman’s ass look huge, black pants minimize its size — how many women don’t know this? Real style comes from within; it is the sign of your character and personality that you display to those who see you. It’s a personal statement. It tells people who you are. Style never indulges fads or gimmicks. Style is solid, basic, quiet. Yet style can also be quirky, individual and daring. Style is timeless. Style looked good thirty years ago and will be in good taste thirty years from now.
CJ: Amen to that. Let’s switch gears. You’ve just done something else that’s a bit of a surprise – written a book about the Kennedy assassination. Why?
RS: Is it any surprise that the government doesn’t tell us the truth? Both the CIA and the FBI lied to the Warren Commission about their knowledge and interaction with Lee Harvey Oswald. Despite the very best efforts of the government and the mainstream media, the Warren Commission’s version of events has crumbled under the weight of two congressional investigations and the declassification of thousands of government documents from the 1960’s. It is now abundantly clear that FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, Commission Chairman Earl Warren, and staff lawyer Arlen Specter first concluded that Oswald was a “communist nut” who acted alone and then made the “facts” of the investigation fit this pre-determined conclusion. Paraffin tests showed Oswald had not fired a rifle that day. The finest marksman in the Army could not get off three shots in the required 6.5 seconds with the Mannlicher-Carcano rifle they government told us was used to kill JFK. The Secret Service violates all of it’s own procedures for the protection of the president, procedures they did not abandon in Houston or San Antonio the day before. There was a coup d’etat on November 22, 1963. That’s why.
CJ: You have obviously believed for sometime that Lyndon Johnson was involved in JFK’s murder. Why did you wait until now to write your book?
RS: Former US Attorney John Mitchell was major source for my book. Mitchell detailed for me many things he learned about the JFK assassination from Nixon and the other branches of government. I agreed not to publish my book until the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination when Mitchell would surely be deceased. When I combined some of the startling things Nixon told me directly with confirmation from Mitchell, Ambassador John Davis Lodge and even Genovese crime boss “Fat Tony” Salerno with the pioneering journalistic work done by Barr McClellan, Philip Johnson, and Craig Zirbel establishing Johnson’s unique motive, means, and opportunity, I knew I had to write this book. The $3 million taxpayers pay per year to the LBJ Library burnishes the image of an amoral psychopath. Johnson was crude, ruthless, vicious, vindictive, abusive, mean-spirited and usually drunk. His corruption was of biblical proportions. He had a propensity to expose himself and referred to his penis as ‘Jumbo.’ He fathered at least three illegitimate children, two of whom are still alive. A Secret Service Agent actually said if LBJ hadn’t been president he would have been in an insane asylum.
CJ: And like you, he was also very particular about clothing! Anyway, what is the strongest piece of evidence you have against LBJ?
RS: The fingerprint of LBJ hit man Malcolm “Mac” Wallace is the only one other than Lee Harvey Oswald (and various clumsy Dallas Police officers) found on the cardboard boxes in the sniper’s nests on the 6th floor of the Texas School Book Depository. The ties of Wallace, a convicted murderer, to LBJ are indisputable; LBJ secured a patronage job for Wallace at the US Agriculture Department and, after his conviction for murder of John Kinser who was blackmailing Johnson, with Temco, a defense contractor owned by LBJ crony D.H. Byrd who, interestingly, also owns the Texas Schoolbook Depository building.
CJ: You know, when I was about 12 years old I got into the Kennedys and found a picture in a book that shows LBJ taking the oath of office aboard Air Force One. He’s got his right hand in the air, he’s got Jackie next to him in the bloodstained dress weeping, and he’s winking at someone. That photo really struck me as, well, sketchy…
RS: Johnson’s actions on Nov. 22, 1963, and the day before betray his intentions and involvement. LBJ would visit JFK’s hotel room in a bid to remove his protégé, Governor John Connally, from the president’s limousine. LBJ wanted Connally to ride with him and to put his arch enemy, Sen. Ralph Yarborough, in the death car. JFK refused and a shouting match ensued. When Johnson’s vice presidential limousine turned into Dealey Plaza, photographic evidence shows that LBJ hit the floor in his car before the first shots were fired. Witnesses say that Johnson was on the car floor listening to a walkie-talkie. LBJ would even pressure Secret Service agent Rufus Youngblood to change his Warren Commission testimony to lie about Johnson’s actions.
His taking of the oath of office on Air Force One is completely legally superfluous; the Vice President is automatically elevated to the office upon the death of the President. LBJ even called Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy in Washington to get the correct wording for the oath just to twist the knife. LBJ demanded the shell-shocked Jackie Kennedy stand next to him for a ceremony that was entirely symbolic. Seconds after taking the oath Lady Bird Johnson broke out in a wide smile and LBJ winked at Congressman Albert Thomas, a longtime Johnson crony. Also worth noting is the day JFK was killed the U.S. Senate stopped hearings into LBJ’s relationship with Senate Secretary Bobby Baker and Life magazine spiked a series on LBJ’s epic corruption fed to them by RFK.
CJ: Tell me about the party which allegedly took place at the ranch of Dallas Oil man Curt Murchison the night before the assassination that J. Edgar Hoover and Richard Nixon supposedly attended. What’s the story with that?
RS: I believe there is confusion about a party at the home of oilman Clint Murchison early in the evening of Nov. 21, 1963, and a meeting that took place well after midnight at Murchison’s ranch, a meeting LBJ did not arrive for until at least 12:30AM. It is logistically possible for both Nixon and Hoover to have attended such a meeting. Nixon was in Dallas that day to attend a Pepsi Cola bottlers’ convention, Pepsi Cola being one of his law firm’s biggest clients. Madeleine Brown said Nixon left early. I doubt he returned for a late meeting. Murchison’s black chauffeur said he drove Hoover to a government plane to Washington at 3:00 AM in the morning.
CJ: You write that LBJ told his mistress on that night: “After tomorrow those goddamn Kennedys will never embarrass me again — that’s no threat — that’s a promise,” and on the morning of Nov 22 he told her, “That son-of-a-bitch crazy Yarborough and that goddamn fucking Irish mafia bastard Kennedy will never embarrass me again!” Who is this mistress and with whom did she share this information?
RS: Madeline Brown was Johnson’s mistress for over 20 years and bore him an illegitimate son. Brown wrote a biography, Texas In The Morning, which detailed her claim that LBJ told her both the night before and the morning of the assassination that “those Irish Mafia bastards will never embarrass me again.” If you go to YouTube, you can find extensive interviews with Madeline Brown in videos in which she is both credible and compelling. When her son with LBJ attempted to assert a legal claim against Johnson, he died mysteriously.
CJ: Wow. Have you had a chance to bounce any of this off of Kennedy family members or confidantes?
RS: I don’t regularly socialize with the Kennedys, but find it fascinating that only six months ago, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. blurted out on MSNBC that he believes his uncle was killed by a conspiracy.
CJ: You write that the subject came up between you and President Nixon in private conversation. And?
RS: It is important to recognize that by 1963 Nixon is considered politically finished. His visit to Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963, comes only a year after his crushing defeat in the 1962 race for governor of California. Nixon is considered washed up and goes to Dallas as a private attorney travelling with one associate from his law firm. Nixon leaves Dallas the morning of Nov. 22, when President Kennedy is just arriving. It is not until Nixon lands at Idewild (now JFK) Airport in New York that he learns that Kennedy has been shot. Because Nixon held a well-covered press conference in Dallas attacking Kennedy and questioning whether LBJ would be on the 1964 ticket, Nixon is worried that he will be blamed for inciting a “climate of hate” in Dallas which facilitated the president’s murder.
Upon reaching his Park Avenue apartment, Nixon places a call to FBI director J. Edgar Hoover. “Edgar, was it one of those right-wing kooks?” asked Nixon. “No, Dick, it was a communist,” Hoover replied only after two hours after Kennedy’s assassination. Nixon believed Oswald killed Kennedy until he watched with horror as Jack Ruby murdered Oswald on national TV. “It’s a hell of a thing. I actually knew this Jack Ruby fella. Murray Chotiner brought him in back in ’47. Went by the name Rubenstein. An informant. Murray said he was one of Lyndon Johnson’s boys…we put him on the payroll,” Nixon told me.
Nixon aide, Nick Ruwe, who served as Deputy Chief of Protocol for the State Department and US Ambassador to Iceland, was with Nixon in his New York apartment when Nixon saw Ruby blow away Oswald on national TV. “The old man was white as a ghost. I asked him if everything was alright. “I know that guy,” Nixon muttered. U.S. House payroll records would confirm Nixon’s hiring of Ruby in 1947 as a paid informant on the House Un-American Activities Committee. Perhaps this is why Nixon called the Warren Commission the “greatest hoax ever perpetrated” on the Watergate tapes.
CJ: 50 years later, more than 60 percent of Americans tell pollsters they don’t believe the Warren Commission conclusions. Riff on that a little for us…
RS: Given the fact the US government and the big hitters in the mainstream media have continued to promulgate the Warren Commission fiction, it’s amazing that a majority of Americans tell Gallup that they believe JFK was killed by a conspiracy. On the one hand government tells us all the Nixon White House tapes have now been released when in fact all of Nixon’s discussions about the Bay of Pigs, the CIA and the Kennedy Assassination are still redacted — even today.
CJ: I wonder what Oliver Stone will think of your book. Are you related, by the way?
RS: Oliver Stone deserves enormous credit because his movie “JFK” really galvanized public doubt about the Kennedy assassination. The Assassination Record Review Act which declassified thousands of telling documents was largely enacted by Congress and signed by President George H.W. Bush as a reaction to the public outcry caused by the Oliver Stone film. Stone correctly believes the CIA, the Mob and Texas oil were all involved in the plot to kill Kennedy. Where I disagree with Oliver Stone is his belief that the Vietnam War and JFK’s intention to withdraw US troops was the major factor in his murder. In fact, it was Cuba policy and Kennedy’s failure to remove Castro from the Soviet satellite 90 miles off our shore that probably got him killed. If you research “Operation Northwoods” you will see that the CIA and the military were so apoplectic about Castro they were prepared to stage fake terror attacks on American interests and actually kill Americans in a false provocation for an invasion of Cuba.
CJ: Finally, is it possible that at some point, the Kennedy assassination question could be definitively settled once and for all? What would need to happen for that to be?
RS: I doubt it. Even the JFK experts are bitterly divided. As soon as my book was announced some in the “researcher community” attacked it because, they said, I was trying to shift blame away from the CIA. These people haven’t read my book, of course. I do think we will know definitively that Lee Harvey Oswald did not shoot John F. Kennedy and probably did not shot Officer J.D. Tippit. I am certain about LBJ. He could order a murder the way you or I would order a ham sandwich.