Thank you very much. It is a great privilege for me to be here with you at the historic Oxford Union where you are committed to debate and free speech, something which is lacking in the United States these days. I salute you and I am deeply gratified and grateful for your invitation. It has been my pleasure to have worked for four American presidents, to have been involved in ten presidential campaigns, one of them for a Libertarian party candidate; Governor Gary Johnson, the others for presidents Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, my great friend and fellow patriot Senator Bob Dole, George Herbert Walker Bush of which I have some regret and of course Donald Trump. But I must say that the 2016 election was an election in which all of those things that I thought were absolutely necessary and true about American politics, about modern politics in the age of mass communication all proved not to be true or at least to be suspended at least for the time of this most recent election.
Donald Trump was successfully elected President without benefit of sophisticated professional polling, focus groups, message testing, or hundreds of millions of dollars of paid broadcast advertising. He was a candidate who operated solely and completely on the basis of his instincts, on the basis of his gut. He had no speech writers, he had no press secretary, and he had no one preparing talking points for him. He is very much his own man. There is no Carl Rove in Trumpland, there never has been and I suspect there never will be, certainly not Rodger Stone and most definitely not Steve Bannon.
Yet despite the fact that he was massively out spent (very hard to get precise numbers because of the intersection of hard and soft money) a reasonable estimate would be that the forces supporting his opponent Hillary Clinton spent somewhere in the neighborhood of 2 billion dollars perhaps a bit more, those supporting the election of Donald Trump although not Donald Trump himself spent about 237 million dollars. Additionally I would make a case to you that the old media and the new media were both actively working against his election. The old media which I define as the three U.S.-based television networks and then kind of later the two cable news networks, while they certainly gave him a disproportionate amount of coverage during the primaries they did that not to boost Donald Trump but because somebody this freewheeling, somebody this unscripted is interesting and being interesting in politics is the most important thing. The only thing worse in politics then being wrong is being boring and Donald Trump as a candidate was never boring and that drove ratings and ratings drove their ability to charge more for their commercial advertising. But I would also argue that in the general election phase of the campaign, that coverage turned largely negative. I would also make a case to you that the new media was rigged against him in the sense that for example at Google when the Trump campaign put out a press release it was marked as promotion but when the Hillary Clinton campaign put out a press release it was marked as update. That is the difference between literally millions of people reading it and others not and that’s just one example of the bias. I’ll talk more about that later. So I think it would be a mistake to view his election solely as the rise of an interesting and flamboyant populist. I think far more than that it was a rejection of a two-party duopoly who although they endeavored to sound different at election time really was bringing the country one set of policies. The Republicans and the Democrats, the elites of both parties working together, the Bushes and the Clintons whose policies in truth are largely indistinguishable, brought us endless foreign war where are inherent National interest where never clear, the erosion of our civil liberties, the reading of our emails, the reading of our text messages, the monitoring of our phone calls, the collection of metadata on Americans in violation of the fourth amendment of the Constitution.
Borrowing and spending in debt that my grandson’s children will end up paying for, immigration policies that are unfair, that do not reward those who wait their turn and go through the process that have rendered some of our neighborhoods and streets unsafe, international trade policies that we were promised by both the Bushes and the Clintons, where the economic panacea which instead sucked the jobs out of America as populist independent candidate Ross Perot once said, and economic policies that brought us devastation of our central part of our country leaving the Rust Belt destitute. These are the policies of the Republicans and the Democrats working together. These are the policies of the political elites. These are the policies of the Bushes and the Clintons. So how for example could Barack Obama promise us that Guantanamo would be closed but it’s still open? Why could they promise us that the war in Afghanistan would be ended but it’s still going on? Why did we march off to war in Iraq where are inherent national interest was never clear? Why did those wars have the bipartisan support of the elites of both parties?
I believe Donald Trump’s election was a rejection of all of that. Now I also, having worked for a number of presidents and spent some time in Washington recognize that when the establishment cannot defeat you they first try to discredit you and when they can’t do that they seek to co-opt you. Yes I am disappointed that we are still in Afghanistan, yes I think sending more troops as we have done, the largest troop deployment to date is an error, yes I do not think Donald Trump can accomplish everything in one year. But it is interesting to me that we were told that if he was elected our stock market would collapse, our economy would go into deep recession. Under this President we have created almost 2 million new jobs; the stock market has roared to unprecedented levels, unemployment is at an all time low, African American unemployment, one of the most intractable problems in the country is at the longest period ever. Yes I want to see his plan to rebuild our urban centers; he promised to it in the campaign but he’s only been president for one year. And now you have multinational corporations who had left, repatriating money back to the United States, coming back to the United States. Companies like Apple, hardly Trump supporters, announcing that they’re repatriating 250 million dollars and they’re going to spend 350 billion dollars in a U.S.-based expansion. Ford and others by any stretch of the imagination, the president has had a successful first year.
Now the reaction to his election is something that is worth looking at. First there was an argument that his election should be overturned by the Electoral College and Mr. Podesta, the manager of Hillary Clinton’s campaign, a man who spent 2 billion dollars to get his brains beat in, suggested that the Electoral College should be briefed on the Russian collusion. That would have been a very short briefing because so far the claim of Russian collusion has proved to be a delusion. There has yet despite the fact that we’ve had multi-million dollar taxpayer financed investigations by the House and the Senate we do not have any evidence of any effective action of anybody in the Trump campaign or the Trump family or Trump associates who successfully coordinated or colluded or conspired with the Russians state.
We do know that the hand full of aides around Hillary Clinton made millions of dollars from the oligarchs around Vladimir Putin; there’s the gas deal, the uranium deal that you may have heard of, the banking deal and so on and the president has the intractable opposition of what we call the deep state. Now some people say “well Stone, you are a conspiracy theorist.” For example you said that maybe Lee Harvey Oswald didn’t kill Kennedy and didn’t act alone. Well perhaps we learned in the documents just released that the government has lied to us from the beginning about their knowledge of Mr. Oswald, where he came from and his various movements. I wrote a book about this which is a New York Times bestseller. No, I am not a conspiracy theorist, I’m a conspiracy realist. I say we go where the facts take us.
Now there’s also a second phase of the opposition to Trump since the Russian collusion delusion has essentially collapsed down around their ears, you may have seen some of the seeds of this I suspect you’ll hear more of it. “The president’s crazy, he’s out of his mind, he’s not able to discharge his duties.” I’ve known him almost 40 years and he’s the same person he’s ever been. Is he eccentric? Most definitely, so was Franklin Roosevelt, so was Theodore Roosevelt. Go back and read what they said about Teddy; “an egomaniac, a lightweight, a braggart”, one of our greatest presidents. Lincoln was considered to be an eccentric; slept in the bed with a man! All of our presidents have changed the presidency within their own image. Trump has a unique style, he is not a cookie-cutter, blow-dried, polling fueled, career politician…he’s a force of nature, he is a natural phenomena, he has his own leadership style. If that’s style gets you 200 more points in the stock market and 2 million new jobs, well I like it. But the seeds of this entire narrative that the president is “mentally unbalanced” which I believe to be manifestly untrue based on all evidence both anecdotal, personal and now medical, is based on a 25th amendment strategy being promulgated by some, that he be removed.
This is based on the intractable opposition as I said of the deep state. Dwight Eisenhower called them “the military industrial complex.” How can it be that Robert Gates would be a cabinet member and Secretary of Defense for both George Bush and Barack Obama if their policies are so different? Why is as I said earlier Guantanamo still open? Why do we have the same people at the second and third levels of the Central Intelligence Agency now that we had under the two previous presidents? It’s very simple and I can explain it to you. You see Hillary Clinton promised these folks an expansion of the proxy war in Syria. I’m sorry but I see no winners in Syria. Assad propping up Hezbollah and Hamas being propped up by the Russians is certainly no friend of ours or of Human Rights. Isis on the other side propped up by the Saudis whose involvement in 9/11 is the subject of legislation in which they don’t want to be sued, they’re not our friends… you have a hundred or more small sub sects of terrorist fanatics… no I’m sorry this is not worth one drop of American blood not one borrowed America dollar.
We have seen, graphically in Libya what happens when you topple a regime with American bomber planes without thinking through the implication. If you can look at the videos of the slave markets in which African Americans are being sold as slaves, well they are chilling to say the least. So the intractable opposition to Trump is based in many cases because of his unwillingness to expand the war. Trump was not only the law & order candidate from a rhetorical point of view certainly; he was also the peace candidate. Does he have any Illusions about the evil of the Russian system? Does he think that Vladimir Putin is a good guy? Absolutely not. But when the other folks in the world such as the Russians have thermonuclear weapons, a dialogue with them is probably a good idea. A war over Syria which is much closer geographically if one were to look at a map is probably not a good idea because our inherent national interests there are not clear. And now what you have going on before our very eyes is the beginning of the collapse of an illegitimate effort to reverse what they could not do in the 2016 election. We now know almost certainly, and we will certainly get more information shortly that the entire claim of Russian collusion and the unconstitutional and illegal surveillance of the Republican candidate for president and his top associates including yours truly are based on a lie. It is based on a fabrication, a dossier that is not based in truth because Donald Trump did not dally with prostitutes and watch them urinate on a bed in Russia. It didn’t happen! But that document, you’ve got to give those guys at Fusion GPS credit; they sold the same information three times to three different buyers: first the Republicans, Paul Singer the hedge fund manager, Marco Rubio his candidate for president and then Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee and finally, sadly, incredibly, the FBI, and it is that document under which the previous administration, went to the FISA court and asked for permission to surveille Trump and his associates. And in July of last year they were stunned when initially their request was rejected. Now it’s important to understand that under the FISA court rules there need be no probable cause. The government doesn’t say “we want to spy on John Smith because we have evidence that he’s involved in treason or we could believe he’s involved in corruption” they can spy on you simply because they want to. And 99% of the government requested that go to the FISA court are rubber stamped and the surveillance is undertaken.
We now know that the highest level officials in the Obama NSA went back to the FISA court to a different judge, never acknowledged to the second judge that the previous judge had turned down their request because these proceedings are all secret and they got illegitimate permission to surveille Trump on the basis of fake evidence; the dossier. This I think will be proven shortly so what you had was a collusion by the highest levels of the intelligence community in the United States interested in an expansion of the war in Syria, convinced that had they had a choice between Hillary Clinton, and say Jeb Bush that the expanded proxy war would have been in the bag. Desperate to dislodge this president who they were shocked had won to begin with, this is a coup d’état and the idea having failed with their Russian argument as I said is a 25th Amendment proceeding now.
Now how does the 25th Amendment work? You would need a majority of the president’s cabinet and the vice president to agree that the president is no longer mentally capable of discharging his or her duties. And then the president would have, under the Constitution the right to either leave office or to appeal it and the appeal goes to the U.S. House of Representatives under the control of Speaker Paul Ryan. Such a strategy may sound far-fetched to some but it cannot work without a backdrop of hysteria built up by the folks of I don’t know, CNN, that the president is mentally unbalanced. And it will be the next phase of the efforts to dislodge the president who threatens business as usual.
But a more chilling aspect of what we see going on in direct contrast to the tradition of debate and free speech here in the Oxford Union, is an effort to put the toothpaste back in the tube because as I say 2016 was the year in which the mainstream media lost their monopoly stranglehold on dissemination of political information and with the invention of the internet, open the door to a broader less controllable alternative media left, right and center. So now what you see is an effort to censor those by the internet left; Google, Face book, Twitter, Amazon. This I think flies exactly in the face of American tradition. If you’re going to be the Town Square than everybody has to have access to the Town Square. I’m opposed to censorship of any voice left right or center. It doesn’t matter if you’re the wackiest far out leftist or you are a right-wing nut you ought to have a chance to speak and be heard. I am one who has been banned for life at Twitter. I’d like to sue them but they may be out of business before I can get there. Is it coincidental then that they shut off the president’s Twitter feed for 11 minutes? Was it a coincidence that the journalist Julian Assange’s Twitter feed went down and suddenly popped back up? More recently was it an accident, did somebody spill Coke on the keyboard and that’s what made Sean Hannity’s Twitter feed disappear or are they playing games with us?
They have First Amendment responsibilities, they have what I would consider to be antitrust responsibilities and then they have the other problem which is that people who want to have a robust dialogue will pick up and go elsewhere. They’ll go to other net alternatives where you can have a dialogue. One of the things that I think is most interesting that we have just gone through is a fight in our country over net neutrality. Almost everything you have been told about this is wrong. Yes we had Net neutrality under Barack Obama for the providers; Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon. They had to give equal access to everybody but never for the content providers. They can defame you, they can block you, they can ignore you, they can censor you, they can literally erase you from history and they were unfettered.
True net neutrality requires everyone have an equal voice and the new rules will lend themselves to that. Now, we have Mr. Pompeo the CIA director saying “well the Russians are going to interfere in the 2018 election.” Having been able to produce no evidence whatsoever that they interfered in any meaningful way in the 2016 election, I wonder on what he bases this information. Now some of you may not know but I’m being sued in the District of Columbia courts by a group named Project Democracy which is a front group for the Barack Obama folks, an Obama based group. And the nature of their allegations against me is that I worked with the Russians to hack the Democratic National Committee’s emails and give the information to WikiLeaks. Not only is there no evidence of any of that but none of it is true. They would be very hard-pressed to prove it in court if we get that far. But what interest me in this most recent week, is the president’s lawyers filed a motion in court in essence, saying that given the New York Times versus United States case, the famous Pentagon Papers case, the publication of classified information by a journalistic organization is not a crime. That’s what journalists do. If you’re going to bust Julian Assange then you’ve got to bust New York Times and The Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post and many others who have had enormous scoops by obtaining from sources, from whistleblowers, classified government information and publishing it. It is the role of a free press. It may be inconvenient, it may be embarrassing to the government but it is most definitely not illegal. But how can it be that Donald Trump who’s being sued, his campaign is being sued along with me in this courtroom his lawyers assert to the court that there is no violation of the law and therefore there can be no conspiracy if you can’t conspire to commit a crime. At the same time Mr. Pompeo and Mr. Sessions, are arguing that Assange should be extradited to the United States and tried for the crime of publishing classified information. No you cannot have it both ways.
Assertions that I knew in advance that Julian Assange would publish Hillary Clinton’s emails are false other than to say I can read and he said it in a dozen interviews and I did re-tweet what he said, the idea that I had advanced knowledge for example, of John Podesta’s email, I never said that. But I did read the Panama papers in January of 2016 outlining his shady business dealings in Eastern Europe including Russia and I did say that “his time in the barrel would come” meaning those would come under public scrutiny as the business dealings of my long time associate Paul Manafort did. So there is no evidence whatsoever, on the other hand this lawsuit is a great fundraising device for these folks which are why I think it is alive on perhaps a fishing expedition which will lead exactly nowhere. So the point I guess to bring it all back, is to say that censorship is the last step in this effort to discredit and destabilize a president who has revitalized the American economy. I don’t think the 25th Amendment narrative will work. I don’t think in the end that censorship will work because free men and free women like free speech and I don’t think the toothpaste can be put back into the tube. We like our Twitter feed and our Face book posts or our presence on Gab or any other number of coming social media outlets.
Gone are the days that if the three networks said something didn’t happen or they just didn’t cover it, well it just didn’t happen. It was like a tree falling in the forest. No, I think we’re going to have a robust debate and I’m ready to have it. And now I am ready to take any and all of your questions. Thank you.
Roger Stone, Oxford Union, England Feb. 2018