“This case would never have been brought if it didn’t involve Roger Stone.”
So begins MAGA die-hard Roger Stone’s long-awaited response to a lawsuit the Justice Department filed seven months ago, accusing him and his wife, Nydia, of evading tax payments and defrauding the U.S. government.
The opening line tops an 11-page denial, which the Stones’ lawyers filed on Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida—the same day congressional investigators subpoenaed Stone in connection to his involvement in events surrounding the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
The couple faces federal civil charges related to $2 million in unpaid taxes accumulated over more than a decade, as well as an allegedly fraudulent real estate deal prosecutors say was designed to shelter assets from government collectors while the couple maintained a lavish lifestyle.
But the Stones’ denial pins the blame on another legal battle with a familiar, if only loosely unrelated, scapegoat: Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
Stone has long complained about what he characterizes as an unfair and politically motivated prosecution by Mueller’s team. And true to form, the die-hard libertarian kicks off by contextualizing his current predicament as one more in a string of injustices at the hands of a vindictive federal government.
Most specifically, Stone rehashes at length his many well-aired grievances with Mueller’s Russia investigation, which in November 2019 secured the Trump whisperer’s conviction on seven felony charges of lying and witness tampering—a process which “nearly bankrupted” the Stones and precipitated the IRS to abrogate their payment agreement, according to the filing.
One problem with this argument: The new charges, which center largely on transactions carried out in February and March 2019, predate that trial.
Another problem: Federal prosecutors have argued that Stone engaged in the alleged fraud precisely because he anticipated the ordeal might bankrupt him.
Stone’s denial begins with targeting the IRS, which “refused to engage” with the couple, the document says, and instead “filed this suit despite the Stones’ good faith efforts” to make their payments.
But from there the filing dives into an extended non sequitur, skewering the Mueller probe and praising the former president, a longtime ally who blocked Stone’s sentencing last July before pardoning his conviction in December.
“The Mueller investigation produced no charges related to any collusion between either Stone or the Trump Campaign and Russia,” the document says, adding that “recently unredacted portions of the Mueller Report reveal that the Government lacked any evidence that Stone engaged in any improper conduct in connection with the 2016 campaign.” (Former Trump associates have implicated Stone’s WikiLeaks connections in testimony.)
As the investigation “sprawled,” the filing says, Stone was targeted with “process” crimes—an attempt to downplay the seriousness of the charges. The defense then reminds the court that the Stones were again victims of the government in a “famously televised pre-dawn raid by the FBI.”
Notably, the denial makes no effort to assert Stone’s innocence of those criminal charges. But it does point out that Trump “granted Stone a full and unconditional pardon” for his crimes, and “did so after publicly identifying the Mueller investigation as undertaken in bad faith from the start” and challenging the “fundamental fairness” of Stone’s trial.
“The Mueller investigation and subsequent trial nearly bankrupted Stone,” the filing says. At the trial’s end, the document notes, the Stones’ tax attorney “proactively reached out to the IRS to begin discussions about resuming a payment plan”—efforts the government “ignored,” before filing the current lawsuit “just four months after Stone’s pardon.”
Prosecutors, however, say the Stones owe some $2 million in unpaid taxes, going back a decade. The DOJ complaint lays out a complicated scheme, describing a condo purchase—which involved a mysterious loan and a series of financial transfers among personal, business, and trust accounts—as an overt act of fraud designed to hide money from the government ahead of an expected default.
But that purchase, and the default, did not happen after the trial, as Stone’s denial may suggest. In fact, the Stones bought the condo soon after Roger Stone’s January 2019 arrest. Prosecutors claim that the Stones had anticipated defaulting on their IRS payments, and knew it would trigger government collection on their assets.
They defaulted the day after the condo purchase, eight months before Stone was convicted.
The Stones deny wrongdoing. Their response to the indictment goes on to address the DOJ’s allegations point by point, acknowledging certain circumstances but mainly putting forth a series of blanket denials and “lack knowledge” claims. The small condo, they maintain, was a legitimate purchase, which now serves as their primary residence.
Asked for comment, an attorney for the Stones told The Daily Beast that the filing speaks for itself.
If anything, the legal seas have only grown choppier for Roger Stone after Trump’s December pardon. That was soon followed by the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, which had been fueled by rallies Stone attended alongside Oath Keeper militia members. And on Monday, the Jan. 6 House select committee subpoenaed Stone over his alleged role in the event.
Then in April, the DOJ hit the Stones with the tax evasion indictment. The trial quickly stalled out, however, while Nydia Stone underwent treatment for stage 4 cancer. After multiple extensions, the couple notified the court last month that they were ready to move ahead.
But through all of this, the Roger Stone Legal Defense Fund has remained open for donations. The fund, which Stone established in 2017 as Mueller began to tighten the screws on Trump world, has over the last four years drawn an untold amount of financial support for the martini-wielding popinjay, who would appear to need it as much as ever.
A disclaimer on the donations page informs supporters that “contributions are not deductible for federal income tax purposes.”