Just hours after The Washington Post published a bombshell story about a previously undisclosed May 2016 meeting between Roger Stone and a Russian national who promised political dirt about Hillary Clinton, President Trump encouraged Post employees to go on strike.
“Washington Post employees want to go on strike because Bezos isn’t paying them enough,” Trump tweeted. “I think a really long strike would be a great idea. Employees would get more money and we would get rid of Fake News for an extended period of time! Is @WaPo a registered lobbyist?”
Washington Post employees want to go on strike because Bezos isn’t paying them enough. I think a really long strike would be a great idea. Employees would get more money and we would get rid of Fake News for an extended period of time! Is @WaPo a registered lobbyist?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 17, 2018
Trump’s tweet, coming as it does on the heels of the Post’s report, is the latest evidence that his repeated attacks on Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos are motivated by the publication’s coverage of Trump — not any sort of principled concern about the state of the postal service or well-being of Post employees.
The Post reported that Stone — a longtime Trump adviser — met in May 2016 with a man who called himself Henry Greenberg. Greenberg initially contacted Trump campaign communications official Michael Caputo and offered dirt about Hillary, and Caputo responded by arranging the meeting with Stone.
According to text messages Stone sent to Caputo after the meeting that have been obtained by the Post, Greenberg — who has at times used the name Henry Oknyansky and claimed in a 2015 court filing to be an FBI informant — asked for $2 million in exchange for his information.
Asked by Caputo if Greenberg offered “Anything interesting at all?”, Stone replied, “No.”
Stone failed to disclose his meeting with Greenberg during his sworn testimony to the House Intelligence Committee in September 2017. During an interview on Sunday morning on C-SPAN, Stone said he simply forgot about the the episode until the Post’s report.
On CSPAN, Roger Stone claims he simply forgot about his meeting with a Russian national who offered him dirt on Hillary in May 2016 during his sworn testimony, and that's why he didn't disclose it until the Washington Post reported about it. #oops pic.twitter.com/05cfqORX2A
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) June 17, 2018
The Post’s report comes less than a month after The Wall Street Journal obtained emails indicating Stone withheld key documents from the House Intelligence Committee that indicate he lied about his communications with a radio host he hoped would serve as a backchannel to WikiLeaks during the 2016 campaign.
A lawyer for Stone, Grant Smith, responded to the Journal’s report by claiming, lamely, that the emails weren’t turned over to the House Intelligence Committee because they were “not encompassed within the scope of the committee’s request.” But the committee’s investigation, which was recently ended by a pro-Trump faction led by chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA), was about Russia’s efforts to meddle in the election — precisely what Stone was discussing with the radio host in the email.
As The Post details, “Stone and Caputo’s interactions with Greenberg mean that at least 11 Trump associates or campaign officials have acknowledged interactions with a Russian during the election season or presidential transition.” In December 2016 and January 2017, incoming White House counselor Kellyanne Conway and Vice President-elect Mike Pence both categorically denied during TV interviews that there was any contact between the Trump campaign and Russia at all.
During a CNN interview on Sunday, Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani downplayed the Post’s report by arguing that while Stone may have been willing to collude with Russia, he didn’t successfully pull it off, so it’s no big deal.
GIULIANI, SHORTER: Roger Stone may have tried to collude with Russia, but I believe his effort was unsuccessful, so meh pic.twitter.com/kZKBxXEGoG
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) June 17, 2018
“It seems to me… whatever the differing recollections about this, it sorta gets resolved with the fact that Stone did nothing about it,” Giuliani said. “He came to the conclusion according to the Post that it was a waste of time.”
The Stone-Greenberg meeting occurred a month before top Trump campaign officials met at Trump Tower with a Russian agent who promised them political dirt about Hillary Clinton. Team Trump has tried to downplay that meeting with a similar line of argument: While they may have been willing to collude, that doesn’t matter since they weren’t able to do so.
It remains unclear, however, exactly what information was passed from Russian agents to the Trump campaign, and what team Trump did with it.