President Donald Trump‘s longtime friend and adviser Roger Stone recently unveiled his legal defense fund. Turns out, Stone has actually had that fund’s infrastructure lying in wait for quite awhile–well over a year.
In fact, Stone or someone working on Stone’s behalf registered the current domain name for his legal defense fund the day after Stone testified in front of Congress. That is, the day after Stone allegedly made several false statements while under oath.
Stone testified in front of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on September 26, 2017. Immediately thereafter, Stone addressed an assemblage of reporters and expressed the view that his testimony exonerated him from any allegedly untoward activity.
According to a WHOIS query, however, the domain name stonedefensefund.com was registered on September 27, 2017.
The WHOIS protocol is considered an Internet Standard–or one of the most stable, widely recognizable, useful and mature building blocks of the Internet as we know it. Specifically, the WHOIS protocol provides several pieces of documentation about domain names–including server information, registrar information and any given website’s registration date.
The timing of Stone’s domain name registration, therefore, suggests that Stone has anticipated to be charged by Special Counsel Robert Mueller for quite some time–in marked contrast to his somewhat triumphant tone during and after his congressional testimony. Stone’s legal team has characterized the timing of the URL’s registration as “completely coincidental.”
The defense fund’s website features the following message from Stone himself:
FRIENDS, I NEED YOUR HELP.
Despite a lack of evidence of Russian Collusion, Wikileaks collaboration or any other illegal activity in the 2016 election, long time Trump advisor Roger Stone has been targeted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Mueller seeks to criminalize normal political activities by Roger Stone while ignoring the blatantly illegal activities of the Clinton campaign and the Obama NSA, DOJ and FBI.
“Roger Stone refuses to be pressured into testifying against President Trump,” the ask continues. “His legal fees in this epic fight could top $2 million, threatening to destroy him and his family. Please help us. Everything will be used to help defray the costs of keeping up the battle against those that would silence Roger Stone and turn him against President Trump.”
According to the defense fund’s website, the fund itself is administered by Robert Watkins & Company, an accounting firm based out of Tampa, Florida. Indeed, all checks are directed to be made “care of” the accounting firm.
Law&Crime reached out to the firm for comment on this article but no response was forthcoming at the time of publication.
Additional inquiries were directed to Stone’s attorneys Grant Smith and Robert Buschel but no comment was immediately available from Stone’s legal team.
After this story was published, Smith responded with the following message:
The timing of that registration is completely coincidental. In actuality, the defense fund started in August before that, under a different name. I had picked a URL that was not as catchy as this one. … It was no secret that there were several committees of the Congress that wanted to talk to Mr. Stone and the special counsel was just ramping up their investigation, therefore we knew that he would be incurring a lot of expenses to reply to any and all requests.
[Image via Mark Wilson/Getty Images]
Editor’s note: this article has been amended post-publication to incorporate a response from Stone’s legal team and for clarity.