“I fought the law and I won.” – Jello Biafra

It would take a time machine and a biological miracle, but if Roy Cohn and Harry Houdini somehow had a son, you would end up with Roger Stone.

Seemingly fully forged in the foundries of Richard Nixon’s White House, the longtime Republican operative is the benefit of a Friday night surprise, handed a Get Out Of Jail Free card from President Donald Trump just days before he was set to go to federal prison for up to 40 months.

A maker of mischief, Stone is an off-again, on-again advisor to Trump, helping lay the groundwork of his presidential campaign and preparing him for his first Republican debate in 2015. But he also got caught lying to the FBI and Congressional investigators when they were trying to find out if he was the middleman between Trump’s campaign and Julian Assange, who released reams of material damaging to Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

The world of New York real estate is the land of Donald Trump’s origin story – and in that land, one man’s lie is another’s truth. It’s not about what’s right: You do a favor for a friend and you pick up a chit in return. Roger Stone had a bagful of chits – and who knows what else – and was able to cash them in.

The abuse of presidential pardons and commutations certainly didn’t start with Donald Trump, but he’s raised it to a shameless art form. Trump’s second-chance club includes Bernard Kerik, Scooter Libby, Joe Arpaio, and Rod Blagojevich – a table at Elaine’s that you’d want to avoid at all costs.

This November’s election is increasingly looking like it will be a referendum on the president’s handling of the coronavirus. But it would be unfair to a teetering statue of blind justice to write off what happened to Roger Stone as just one of those Trump things.

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