President Donald Trump's longtime friend Roger Stone says the president should resist any urge to fire special counsel Robert Mueller, who is leading the probe into possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign during the U.S. presidential election in 2016.
“I actually think from a political point of view that the termination of Mr. Mueller would probably give the Democrats the firestorm they're looking for,” Stone told ABC News in an interview Wednesday. “I would not recommend that,” he added.
Stone, a self-described “dirty trickster” and controversial figure in American politics, did say he believes the President should fire both Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is overseeing Mueller’s probe.
“I'm not recommending the firing of Mr. Mueller, but I am recommending a housecleaning at his Justice Department,” Stone said.
A decades-long friend of Trump, Stone is a veteran GOP political operative who worked with Presidents Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan and partnered with embattled former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort at the outside political consultant firm Black, Manafort, Stone and Kelly throughout the 1980s.
The youngest person to testify in the Senate Watergate hearings, Stone is known - for among other things - the tattoo of Nixon's face on his back.
Stone served as an adviser to Trump’s 2016 campaign but left amid controversy in 2015. He currently serves as a key contributor to alt-right Alex Jones' radio and YouTube media platform InfoWars. The notorious political provocateur's life was recently documented in a 2016 Netflix documentary, "Get Me Roger Stone," which focused on Stone's eccentric political career.
Asked if he thought Trump could survive in Washington’s current political climate if he fired both his attorney general and deputy attorney general, Stone told ABC News he thought the sound economy and positive movement in relations with North Korea would protect the president.
“America is back and I think that increases the president's leverage,” Stone said. “And I also think it makes the American people recognize this for the partisan witch hunt that it is.”
Stone's comments come amid renewed scrutiny about the political strategist’s alleged contact with Wikileaks publisher Julian Assange in the summer of 2016 after Stone had left the Trump campaign – which is believed to be of interest in the special counsel’s investigation.
Stone has said he had no prior knowledge about the hacking of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta's email or the release of those emails by WikiLeaks, despite tweeting about Podesta's "time in the barrel" in late August of 2016 before the messages appeared online two months later.
In September, Stone spoke to the House Intelligence Committee for more than three hours as part of the panel's probe into Russian interference in the election. Afterward, he told reporters that the majority of lawmakers' questions focused on his communications with Guccifer 2.0, the unnamed hacker who has taken credit for breaking into Democratic National Committee email servers. He said questions also focused on communications he had through an intermediary with Assange.
Last month, Stone told ABC News that reports he met with WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange during the U.S. presidential election in 2016 are “provably false," Stone told ABC News in March.
On Wednesday, Stone stood by his earlier claim that he’s had no contact with the WikiLeaks publisher, telling ABC News he has not met with, spoken with, texted or emailed with Assange.