A conservative activist best known as a crusader against violent video games is lobbying the Cuyahoga County (Ohio) prosecutor’s office to consider a criminal menacing charge against Donald Trump surrogate Roger Stone after he threatened to publicize the hotel room numbers of Republican National Convention delegates who vote for presidential candidates other than Trump.
Jack Thompson, who has appeared on “60 Minutes” touting a connection between real-world violence and games like “Grand Theft Auto,” sent a letter on Thursday to prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty, contending that Stone might have violated Ohio laws against menacing and aggravated menacing. The GOP convention will be held in Cleveland in July.
Thompson, who supports Ted Cruz but says he would vote for Trump in a general election, said in an interview on Friday that he believes Stone “wants to intimidate people.”
Stone, a former Trump campaign adviser who remains a vocal advocate for the billionaire, said in an interview with a libertarian podcaster this week that if a candidate other than Trump is nominated at a contested convention, he “will disclose the hotels and the room numbers of those delegates who are directly involved in the steal.”
“We’ll tell you who the culprits are,” Stone added. “We urge you to visit their hotel and find them.” (He said in a subsequent interview that “we’re not talking about roughing anybody up.”)
Stone’s remarks were set against the backdrop of Trump’s prediction last month that “you’d have riots” if a candidate other than Trump were to emerge from a contested convention.
McGinty’s office declined to comment on the prospect of a criminal charge against Stone, once an aide to Richard Nixon. A spokesman noted the prosecutor had just received Thompson’s letter and said he was focused on a murder trial.
Stone did not respond to a request for comment.
No person shall knowingly cause another to believe that the offender will cause physical harm to the person or property of the other person, the other person’s unborn, or a member of the other person’s immediate family. In addition to any other basis for the other person’s belief that the offender will cause physical harm to the person or property of the other person, the other person’s unborn, or a member of the other person’s immediate family, the other person’s belief may be based on words or conduct of the offender.
Asked by The Fix to review Stone’s comments, Joshua Dressler, faculty managing editor of the Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law, said “a plausible case can be made that this would constitute menacing.”
“To be guilty, however, the prosecutor would need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the words were expressed with the intention of causing apprehension of harm,” Dressler added. “So, what I am saying is that there might be sufficient evidence to obtain an indictment for this or a related offense, but whether you could prove the case at trial is a much greater hurdle.”
Nevertheless, Dressler said McGinty, a Democrat, could decide to charge Stone to make a point.
“When dealing with political issues like this, one can imagine this can cloud the analysis,” Dressler said. “If the prosecutor would like to deter future risk of rioting, a prosecution might make good sense, to send a message. So, ultimately, a prosecution here, whether it would be successful or not, makes some sense. There is real recklessness in the words he expressed.”
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said in an interview on Fox News Channel on Wednesday that Stone’s threat to publicize delegates’ hotel room numbers was “just totally over the line.”
“We’re going to have $50 million in security,” Priebus added. “We’ll make sure that every delegate is safe.”
Stone would not be the first person connected to Trump to be charged in connection with antagonistic behavior. Campaign manager Corey Lewandowski faces a misdemeanor battery charge in Florida after he grabbed a female journalist by the arm following a March 8 news conference.
Thompson said he does not plan to badger McGinty but wanted to plant a seed in the prosecutor’s mind.
“Roger Stone is trying to influence the election by making delegates think they are going to get a knock on their door in the middle of the night, and it’s going to be a Trump person to yell at them and scare the crap out of them,” Thompson said. “That’s unacceptable.”