Here’s Why Roger Stone’s Trial Jury Can’t Watch ‘The Godfather’

Roger Stone leaves Washington's federal court February 1.

Roger Stone leaves Washington's federal court February 1.

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

Topline: A federal judge presiding over Roger Stone’s trial told jurors Thursday they aren’t allowed to watch The Godfather, after Stone allegedly told a middleman to mimic one of the film’s characters and lie to Congress about contacting Wikileaks’ Julian Assange during the 2016 presidential race.

  • Stone, 67, is charged with lying under oath, obstructing justice and witness tampering.
  • The lying under oath charge stems from allegations that Stone used the middleman to contact Assange during the 2016 presidential race but denied doing so to Congress.
  • During the 2016 race, Stone allegedly texted the middleman, radio host and comedian Randy Credico, to “do a Frank Pentangeli,” a reference to a character in The Godfather: Part II that meant Stone wanted Credico to change his own testimony before Congress.
  • In the film, Pentangeli, under pressure to avoid implicating the head of the fictional Corleone crime family, lies to Congress before killing himself.
  • Prosecutors seized on the Godfather reference and requested permission to show a clip of the movie to the jury⁠—it was denied, but the jury will reportedly read a script of the relevant scene. 
  • Lawyer Bruce Rogow, who is representing Stone, said Stone was kidding about the Pentangeli reference and also opposed prosecutors’ efforts to show the film clip.

Crucial quote: “Don't download The Godfather on Netflix,” U.S. district judge Amy Berman Jackson told the jury as Thursday’s proceedings wound down for the day.

Big number: Text messages between Stone and Credico reportedly contain at least half a dozen references to Pentangeli. 

Surprising fact: Credico is an impressionist, and Pentangeli is reportedly one of the characters he does. Others include Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, Jack Nicholson, Al Pacino, New York governor Andrew Cuomo and Stone’s former boss Richard Nixon. NBC News reported Credico, while testifying on the stand Thursday, did a Bernie Sanders impression before Berman stopped him, saying “this is serious business.”

Key background: Stone worked for President Trump’s 2016 campaign. He left the campaign in his official capacity in 2015 but remained a consultant through its conclusion. Stone’s alleged dealings with Assange and Wikileaks rest on hacked emails from a Democratic National Committee (DNC) server. According to prosecutors, Stone contacted Trump just hours after the DNC said it was hacked by Russia. Stone’s career began with a stint working for Nixon, and he sports a tattoo of the late president on his back. 

Tangent: “Sleep with the fishes,” “Make you an offer you can’t refuse” and “Leave the gun, take the cannoli” are all phrases that originated in The Godfather films.

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Topline: A federal judge presiding over Roger Stone’s trial told jurors Thursday they aren’t allowed to watch The Godfather, after Stone allegedly told a middleman to mimic one of the film’s characters and lie to Congress about contacting Wikileaks’ Julian Assange during the 2016 presidential race.

  • Stone, 67, is charged with lying under oath, obstructing justice and witness tampering.
  • The lying under oath charge stems from allegations that Stone used the middleman to contact Assange during the 2016 presidential race but denied doing so to Congress.
  • During the 2016 race, Stone allegedly texted the middleman, radio host and comedian Randy Credico, to “do a Frank Pentangeli,” a reference to a character in The Godfather: Part II that meant Stone wanted Credico to change his own testimony before Congress.
  • In the film, Pentangeli, under pressure to avoid implicating the head of the fictional Corleone crime family, lies to Congress before killing himself.
  • Prosecutors seized on the Godfather reference and requested permission to show a clip of the movie to the jury⁠—it was denied, but the jury will reportedly read a script of the relevant scene. 
  • Lawyer Bruce Rogow, who is representing Stone, said Stone was kidding about the Pentangeli reference and also opposed prosecutors’ efforts to show the film clip.

Crucial quote: “Don't download The Godfather on Netflix,” U.S. district judge Amy Berman Jackson told the jury as Thursday’s proceedings wound down for the day.

Big number: Text messages between Stone and Credico reportedly contain at least half a dozen references to Pentangeli. 

Surprising fact: Credico is an impressionist, and Pentangeli is reportedly one of the characters he does. Others include Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, Jack Nicholson, Al Pacino, New York governor Andrew Cuomo and Stone’s former boss Richard Nixon. NBC News reported Credico, while testifying on the stand Thursday, did a Bernie Sanders impression before Berman stopped him, saying “this is serious business.”

Key background: Stone worked for President Trump’s 2016 campaign. He left the campaign in his official capacity in 2015 but remained a consultant through its conclusion. Stone’s alleged dealings with Assange and Wikileaks rest on hacked emails from a Democratic National Committee (DNC) server. According to prosecutors, Stone contacted Trump just hours after the DNC said it was hacked by Russia. Stone’s career began with a stint working for Nixon, and he sports a tattoo of the late president on his back. 

Tangent: “Sleep with the fishes,” “Make you an offer you can’t refuse” and “Leave the gun, take the cannoli” are all phrases that originated in The Godfather films.

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I'm a New York-based journalist covering breaking news at Forbes. I hold a master's degree from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism. Previous bylines: G

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