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"Get Me Roger Stone" filmmaker on how Stone's loyalty to Trump paid off

Trump criticized for Stone commutation
Trump criticized for Stone commutation 08:13

President Trump on Friday night commuted the prison sentence of his Roger Stone, whose relationship to the president the director of a 2017 documentary "Get Me Roger Stone" described as "when Donald Trump's back is against the wall politically, it's Roger Stone he's turned to." Filmmaker Dylan Bank talked to CBSN about why Stone's persistence ultimately won Donald Trump's attention and paid off in time.

Mr. Trump and Stone have a relationship spanning four decades and Stone's persistent loyalty for the president finally paid off with his sentence being commuted. Banks said the decision to commute the prison sentence showed what Mr. Trump values most: "Loyalty about all."

"That's what Stone was saying loud and clear the whole time," Bank said. "It paid off at the last minute and shows how much you really have to rattle the cages and stick with Trump. Roger had been waiting months and months for this and it did not come easy."  

Stone was found guilty in November 2019 of lying to Congress, witness tampering and obstruction. Just days before Stone was due to report to prison for the 40-month sentence after several delays, Mr. Trump acted and the wait was for two main reasons, according to Bank. 

"Roger is 67 years old, he's never been to prison before, and it's over 3 years in a pandemic," he said. "Stone was going out there big and bold saying through his surrogates in the media like Tucker Carlson speaking directly to Trump that if he serves even one day in prison the Mueller investigation was justified." 

And the second reason, Bank said, is that the recent surge of bad news and polling likely contributed. 

Mr. Trump has not rewarded another ally, former 2016 campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who currently under home confinement for the remainder of his prison sentence for tax fraud, bank fraud and obstruction of justice related to the Mueller investigation. Bank said a key difference is that "Manafort was trying to sell his influence to oligarchs in Ukraine for cash in a way that really backfired" for Mr. Trump.

"Those were some of the key Russia collusion aspects they were trying to pin on him," Bank continued. "Trump got nothing out of that. Roger went down for lying about the calls he had to Donald Trump to try and help him, to try and get through the messages to Wikileaks that he was claiming that he had."

Now that Stone is free from his prison sentence, the former campaign adviser is announcing he'll once again campaign for Mr. Trump in the upcoming election. But Bank isn't sure Stone will still have a large impact on the electorate. A lack of crowds at rallies thanks to coronavirus precautions is likely to be a key factor in determining his success as a surrogate.

"What Roger Stone has done in the past has been the most vicious knife fighter in the smear campaigns," he said. "When crowds don't come together so easily, when they don't have their claws in Biden quite as effectively as they did with Hillary Clinton, it remains to be seen."

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