Roger Stone, a political operative whose 40-month prison sentence was commuted earlier this month by United States President Donald Trump, his longtime friend, has used the racial slur “Negro” on-air while verbally sparring with a Black Los Angeles-based radio host.
The exchange happened on Saturday on The Mo’Kelly Show, whose host, Morris O’Kelly, grilled Stone on his conviction for lying to Congress, tampering with witnesses and obstructing the House investigation into whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to win the 2016 election.
During the interview, O’Kelly asserted that Stone’s commutation was because of his friendship with Trump. Stone’s voice then goes faint – but he can be heard muttering that he was “arguing with this Negro”.
O’Kelly then asks Stone to repeat the comment, but Stone goes momentarily silent.
The first part of Stone’s statement was not entirely audible, but the radio programme transcribed the complete sentences as: “I can’t believe I’m arguing with this Negro.”
O’Kelly persisted on having Stone respond.
“I’m sorry you’re arguing with whom? I thought we were just having a spirited conversation. What happened?” O’Kelly said. “You said something about ‘Negro’.”
Stone said he had not. “You’re out of your mind,” he said.
O’Kelly said on his programme’s website: “Stone could have reached for any pejorative, but unfortunately went there,” adding that “Stone offered an unfiltered, unvarnished one-sentence expression of how he saw the journalist interviewing him.”
O’Kelly characterised “Negro” as the “low-calorie version of the N-Word”.
Stone’s lawyer on Sunday said he was unaware of the broadcast and had no immediate comment.
The Republican operative had been sentenced to 40 months in prison for charges that included witness tampering and lying to investigators probing alleged collusion between Russia and Trump’s campaign for president in 2016. Trump, however, commuted his sentence on July 10, just days before Stone was to report for detention.
During the programme, Stone said the president acted out of compassion and the jury that weighed his case was tainted.
“I did not get a fair trial,” Stone said.
“My life was in imminent danger,” Stone said, saying he was at risk of being infected by the coronavirus in prison. “I think the president did this as an act of compassion. He did it as an act of mercy.”
At one time, “Negro” was common in the American vernacular to describe African Americans. By the late 1960s, the word was scorned by activists in favour of such descriptors as “Black”. These days, the antiquated word is widely viewed as derogatory.