Roger Stone, a longtime President Donald Trump ally, sat down for an interview for the latest episode of “The Investigation," a new ABC News podcast. A transcript of Stone's interview as it appears in this episode of the podcast follows here:
ABC NEWS' KYRA PHILLIPS: Welcome to "The Investigation." I'm Kyra Phillips along with my co-host Chris Vlasto, senior executive producer of our Investigative Unit, and also Ali Dukakis, an investigative reporter with us. Joining us now, Roger Stone, former Trump campaign aide and veteran GOP political strategist, and of course we must add he is under a seven-count indictment in Robert Mueller's Russia probe. He's also under a pretty strict gag order so he won't be going into details about the Mueller investigation. But this isn't the first presidential investigation that Roger Stone has been a part of. Let us not forget he is a big Richard Nixon fan. Where, at the age of 19, he was interviewed before the Watergate Committee and as we watch [former Nixon White House counsel] John Dean testify on the Hill today we can't help but ask Roger-- what do you make of this? Roger?
ROGER STONE: I think it calls for a re-examination of John Dean and his role in Watergate. I'm not certain why he was asked to testify today as I don't know what his expertise is in the questioning.
ABC NEWS' CHRIS VLASTO: Well, I think that the expertise is that they believe that he was party to obstruction of justice, obviously 40 years ago, and can shed light on whether or not the president now Donald Trump obstructed. What do you think of that is that just a cable TV stunt or what? What do you think?
STONE: I kind of think he's clickbait. In other words, I don't think he has any firsthand knowledge. He is a-- he was an attorney. I believe he was disbarred. He's certainly entitled to give his legal opinion of Volume 2. But I don't think he has any firsthand knowledge
ABC NEWS' ALI DUKAKIS: Roger, if asked, would you testify before this committee?
STONE: I can't see a circumstance under which my lawyers would allow that. As you know I am under a seven-count indictment for lying to Congress and related charges. I'm very limited in what I can say even on this podcast. So I think it is unlikely that my attorneys would allow me to do so.
VLASTO: But do you think Congress would– what game do you think they're playing here or that Chairman Nadler’s playing. I mean why call John Dean? He's not even a real witness. They should be calling you or they should be calling, you know many other witnesses, Hope Hicks, et cetera. What do you think they kind of want? It's like a halfway impeachment, no?
STONE: Well he's obviously a media star. He's gotten a lot of airtime talking about the scandal based on his previous experience. So I assume he is testifying in order to bring attention to the hearings. In fact, the House Judiciary Committee asked me through my attorneys for documents and potentially to testify and we declined, exercising my Fifth Amendment rights, given the legal proceedings that I am facing.
DUKAKIS: Roger, was that in reaction to John Dean coming for the committee that you were asked?
STONE: No, it was much earlier. It was much earlier. It was months ago when they sent out inquires to 81 individuals who were associated with President Trump, myself included.
PHILLIPS: So like Chris mentioned, we talk about Dean and you know the belief that he was party to obstruction. I mean, couldn't Dean dissect portions of the Mueller report here and make assessments on Trump's conduct?
STONE: Well he is. He's a former attorney. So I imagine he could render a legal opinion. I did not listen to his testimony. I can't speculate about it but I think just by appearing he has opened up himself to a reexamination. In fact he I think he has obscured his own role very substantially and his decision to appear today, I think, opens here, in the Internet age, particularly that whole testimony for re-examination.
DUKAKIS: Roger, you've actually told our ABC chief anchor George Stephanopoulos, "John Dean, I am not." I just wondered if you could extrapolate on that at all in the scope of John Dean’s testimony today?
STONE: Well, John Dean testified – John Dean testified against the president. I think you can extrapolate it. I'd point out that those comments were prior to the judge issuing a gag order in my case.
PHILLIPS: Could John Dean say anything to help the Dems build an impeachment case against Trump?
STONE: Well again, he's a former attorney. I believe he was disbarred. He could render a legal opinion but he certainly has no firsthand knowledge. So I'm not sure other than the star power of him opening up the hearings and the fact that we're talking about him kind of demonstrates why I think he has been called.
DUKAKIS: Roger, one of the Republicans -- just to change our sights on to 2020 now -- who are the only, I believe, Republican who is currently going to primary [challenge] President Trump. is Gov. Bill Weld of Massachusetts, former governor. I know you have supported him in the past and have spoke highly of him. Who will you support if it comes down to the two of them?
STONE: Well I have a very high regard for Bill Weld but I don't know what polls he's could possibly be reading. I have seen the job approval for President Trump somewhere between 93 and 88 percent. So I just don't see the market. I don't see a Republican primary challenge to the president being successful. I have a even higher regard for President Trump and the extraordinary job he is doing. I don't think he has any vulnerability in the Republican primary. That's significant, because on a historical basis incumbents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter who have had significant challenges within their own party have gone on to be defeated. I really can't see Bill Weld, as much as I like him, having any kind of prospect to be a legitimate challenger.
VLASTO: Do you think impeachment backfires on the Democrats? Can you talk about that? Do you think if an impeachment hearing goes through?
STONE: There’s certainly no-- there’s certainly no constituency in the country for impeachment that I see particularly with a vibrant economy. I mean you're talking about creation of six million new jobs. Six hundred and fifty thousand manufacturing jobs wage growth at the fastest pace in American history. African-American and Hispanic unemployment at the lowest time since we have the lowest point since we began keeping those statistics. I just I don't I don't see there being any fervor in the country for impeachment beyond rabid partisans.
PHILLIPS: So what's Trump's strategy here? What's he-- what does he from this point forward?
STONE: Well what he should do is run on his record. I mean I agree with his assessment that there is no obstruction and no collusion. And I don't think there's any proof to the contrary but he should keep it positive and run on his record he's got a great record to run on. These new announcements out of Mexico demonstrate that the skillful use of tariffs. I don't think he loves tariffs by the way. I just think he likes them as a tool to try to bring some of the countries who have taken advantage of us in trade matters to the people and they appear to have been successful employed in that way.
VLASTO: All right.
DUKAKIS: Roger, in the Democratic-- ever expanding Democratic pool of 2020 candidates, who do you think is most likely to succeed?
STONE: I don't see a winner or a particularly strong candidate in this pack of Democrats. I think Joe Biden is an extraordinarily flawed candidate. The fact that the Iowa poll only shows him at 24 after two terms as vice president is a sign not of strength, but of weakness. And if for no other reason because as a legislator he turbo-charged the war on drugs which in my view has been not only Richard Nixon's single greatest mistake, but an ignominious, racist and expensive failure. Joe Biden is responsible for the mass incarceration of hundreds of thousands if not millions of young black men for the first time non-violent crime of possession of small amounts of drugs. It’s destroyed families, it's destroyed lives rehabilitates no one, and of course it's cost taxpayers millions. I think that is a fatal flaw particularly for a key constituency within the Democratic party.
PHILLIPS: Are you going to help Trump in any way during 2020?
STONE: I certainly hope to be free to do so. As you know I have pled not guilty to all charges and I have vowed to fight for vindication at trial in November.
VLASTO: All right well on that note let's I think we should wrap it all up. Roger thank you for coming today.
PHILLIPS: Thanks for calling in, Roger
DUKAKIS: Thanks Roger.
STONE: Many thanks.