Roger Stone was arrested and indicted Friday as part of the ongoing investigation by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III into Russian interference in the 2016 election. The FBI took President Trump’s longtime adviser into custody early Friday morning, making this one of the biggest strikes Mueller has taken against the president’s inner circle.
The Justice Department released the indictment against Stone, which contains evidence against Stone and charges of witness tampering, false statements and obstruction of proceedings.
But most important, it contains a reference to “The Godfather: Part II.”
As Mueller’s team helpfully explains, Stone made a reference to Frank Pentangeli, a character from 1974′s “The Godfather: Part II” played by Michael V. Gazzo, who “testifies before a congressional committee and . . . claims not to know critical information that he does in fact know.”
The sequel to “The Godfather” stars Al Pacino, Robert De Niro and Robert Duvall. It is about the mafia but also life, loyalty and family, and it is very good. It won six Oscars. You probably saw it, and if you haven’t, you probably pretend that you have. We’re here to help in case you fall into that second category.
Pentangeli is a rotund, mustachioed mobster who tangles with the film’s protagonist, Michael Corleone (Pacino). Believing that Corleone was behind an attempt on his life, Pentangeli cooperates with investigators looking into Corleone’s past. He lays out the Corleone family’s activities and empires, admits to working for it, and personally implicates Corleone in several murders and admits to carrying out hits on Corleone’s orders. He provides investigators with enough to charge the head of the crime family with perjury.
It escalates all the way to a U.S. Senate hearing. Pentangeli is prepared to testify against Corleone and his criminal empire, but Michael brings Pentangeli’s brother, Vincenzo, to the hearing.
The brothers exchange a significant look and, ultimately, Pentangeli recants his testimony — and lies to Congress despite his sworn affidavit.
“I never knew no Godfather,” he declares, eliciting gasps in the chamber. Was he ever a member of Corleone’s organization? “I don’t know nothing about that!” He claims that under FBI pressure, he “made up a lot of stuff about Michael Corleone. But it’s all lies.”
(This being a “Godfather” film, there are obviously many nuances and twists between these plot points. But it’s a 3 1/2-hour movie, and this is a blog post, so if you want Pentangeli’s full character arc, go watch it.)
According to the Mueller indictment, Stone asked a “Person 2” to “do a Frank Pentangeli” in front of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Person 2 is identified earlier in the indictment as “a radio host and longtime associate of Stone’s."
The document says Person 2 had allegedly been the one who acted as an “intermediary” between Stone and an unnamed organization that had stolen emails from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton. Stone claims Person 2 was the one who confirmed that the organization had Clinton’s emails.
The Washington Post reported that people close to the case say Person 2 is New York political personality Randy Credico, and the organization is WikiLeaks.
Texts and emails between Stone and Person 2 revealed in the indictment show that they argued over the investigation.
“During these conversations, Stone repeatedly made statements intended to prevent Person 2 from cooperating with the investigations,” the indictment states, citing numerous exchanges made over the course of several months. In December, Person 2 texted Stone," You should be honest w fbi . . . there was no back channel . . . be honest."
The indictment says that “Stone replied approximately two minutes later, ‘I’m not talking to the FBI and if your smart you won’t either.' ”