Roger Stone, the longtime Republican political operative suspected of having advance knowledge of Russian leaks intended to influence the 2016 presidential election, told a Tallahassee forum Wednesday that a recently released House Intelligence Committee memo proves governmental agencies conspired to undermine Donald Trump's campaign.
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"In comparison, this makes Watergate look like a milk-fed puppy!" Stone exclaimed during his remarks at a meeting of the Capital Tiger Bay Club.
The colorful strategist has played noteworthy roles in two Republican revolutions. He advised Trump's campaign and is said to still serve as one of the president's confidantes, imparting the lessons he learned during President Richard Nixon's turn on the national political stage.
The 37th president, Stone has said, correctly valued winning votes over holding fast to rigid policy positions, an approach mirrored in Trump's style.
Stone's reverence for Nixon is so strong he has a tattoo of the late president emblazoned on his back.
One of the Tiger Bay members introducing Stone drew riotous laughter when he showed the crowd a temporary tattoo of Stone's face he had drawn on his back.
Stone told the forum that, like Nixon, Trump is a populist whose rise to power has threatened Washington's political establishment.
The central revelation of the Republican-drafted Intelligence Committee staff memo — that federal investigators had presented intelligence gathered by Democratic operatives as part of a warrant application — is a smoking gun revealing the existence of a 'deep state' infrastructure determined to halt Trump's ascent, he argued.
"They used the authority and power of the state to spy on one of the two major candidates," Stone said, referring to the Obama administration. "Let's compare that with Watergate for a moment, in which eight private individuals, misguided as they may have been, broke into the Watergate in an attempt to plant bugs that never really worked."
Democrats have sought to discredit the memo, pointing out the intelligence in question was one of many pieces of evidence used to obtain the warrant to spy on Trump associate Carter Page and that its accuracy was never in question.
"Republicans in Congress have become enablers of the Trump-Russia assault on our democracy," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told reporters.
Stone denies he was engaged in collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government regarding leaks that proved damaging to Hillary Clinton's prospects as the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee.
While his political playbook may be thick, he maintains his methods are above board.
"I'm prepared to do anything to elect my candidate, short of violating the law," he said.