Longtime Donald Trump adviser and friend Roger Stone was forced to retract his “breaking news” that Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton secretly met with a Broward County elections official to rig the election. No such meeting took place, and Stone has since blamed his error on a “language barrier.”
For months, Stone has been claiming that Democrats are trying to rig the election for Clinton -- a false conspiracy theory that Trump has embraced. Stone leads the pro-Trump voter intimidation group Stop the Steal, which is recruiting right-wing volunteers to conduct unscientific “exit polls” outside swing state precincts.
During the October 26 edition of The Alex Jones Show, Stone claimed to have “breaking news” that Clinton held a “private meeting” with Brenda Snipes, the supervisor of elections in Broward County, Florida. He promised to put “photos right here on Infowars shortly” of the meeting, and he criticized the media for not reporting on it.
He then suggested that Clinton may have met with Snipes in order to rig the election, telling Jones: “You’ve got to wonder: Why is the Democratic presidential candidate having a closed-door meeting with the supervisor of elections in one of the largest Democratic counties in the state, and a county that has had a history of problems with their voting process?”
Stone’s conspiracy theory fell apart soon after his appearance. The Sun-Sentinel in Broward County reported that the meeting “didn’t happen” and that Snipes “told our reporter the political operative's allegation was ‘a big fat lie’” (emphasis original):
“We're going to have photos right here on InfoWars shortly,” he promised. “Notice, by the way, that nobody in the traveling press entourage — and no one in the Florida press — has reported this private meeting.”
Uh, maybe the meeting wasn't reported — because it didn't happen?
Snipes told our reporter the political operative's allegation was “a big fat lie.”
“If Secretary Clinton or Donald Trump called and said 'I'd like to speak to you about the operation that goes on in Broward County,' I would meet with them,” she added. “We run a nonpartisan office. I have not met with Secretary Clinton. I don't know where that [rumor] came from.”
The Florida paper noted that the Clinton campaign also stated that the meeting did not happen and additionally reported that “since Stone went after Snipes, she says she's received calls from people across the country who want to know why she met with Hillary.”
Stone officially retracted his false claim during Jones’ October 30 broadcast:
STONE: Everything I have predicted or said since we’ve met and I began doing these broadcasts has turned out to be true. Yesterday I said that I had intelligence that Hillary Clinton had met with the Broward County supervisor of elections and that that wasn’t on her schedule, there was no media presence, and I believed that there was video and photos existed. I was incorrect about that. In fact, I was off by a county. The Clinton entourage pulled up behind the West Palm Beach office.
He blamed his bad information on “two women ... who are active in Citizens for Trump. There was some language barrier because they are Spanish speakers. I do not speak Spanish. The information came through a Citizens for Trump official, and I was incorrect.” He then claimed that Palm Beach is now the “ground zero of the Democrats’ vote-stealing operation” and said he would offer more information soon.
From Stone’s October 26 appearance on The Alex Jones Show:
ROGER STONE: Yesterday Hillary Clinton shows up in Broward County, slips into a private meeting with the woman who runs the board of elections, a woman whose reputation --
ALEX JONES (host): Let’s talk about that. Let’s talk about Hillary just met with the head of elections in the key county in Florida. Break it down, Roger Stone.
STONE: We’re going to have photos right here on Infowars shortly. But there was a short, two-person closed door meeting between the woman who’s a supervisor of elections in Broward County, Brenda Snipes. Extremely controversial, long record of incompetence. Only two days ago she had to announce that somehow Amendment 2, which happens to be medical marijuana, isn’t going to be on the ballot in Broward County because of some kind of screw-up.
JONES: Oh a glitch! Oh my gosh! This is the whole place we saw in 2000 with all the problems. And now magically -- this is almost worse than Loretta Lynch, the AG, meeting with ol’ Billy Clinton out there on that tarmac.
STONE: Yeah, I mean, you’ve got to wonder: Why is the Democratic presidential candidate having a closed-door meeting with the supervisor of elections in one of the largest Democratic counties in the state, and a county that has had a history of problems with their voting process?
JONES: Wow, is it arrogance with Clinton because they seem like the most arrogant people ever? Or is it just they don’t care?
STONE: Well, notice, by the way, that nobody in the traveling press entourage and no one in the Florida press has reported this private meeting. This is the breaking news right here. And now it’s out there. Maybe they’ll have some explanation of what she was doing with Brenda Snipes.
UPDATE: PolitiFact Florida ruled Stone’s claim “Pants on Fire” false, concluding that “Stone was wrong. He heard it third-hand from Trump supporters who claim they stumbled across such a meeting. Snipes and a spokeswoman for the Clinton campaign in Florida denied such a meeting took place and we found no evidence that it did.” The site added that “days later, Stone admitted he was wrong but then claimed that Clinton met with elections officials in Palm Beach County. He lacks evidence for that claim, too -- and both the elections supervisor and the Clinton campaign deny it.”