Special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe has entangled a strange and colorful cast of characters, from a Russian pop singer to a porn star to a convicted pedophile with murky foreign ties.
Now the list has expanded again, to include a notorious former prostitution-ring manager, also known as the “Manhattan Madam.”
Kristin Davis, who has claimed she delivered escorts to the disgraced former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, among other elite Empire State clientele, is expected to face questions before Mueller's grand jury on Friday.
Davis' appearance is shrouded in mystery and it remains unclear what Mueller’s interest in her may be. But she is close with Roger Stone, a longtime political adviser to President Donald Trump and one of his brashest defenders. Davis worked closely with Stone for years during her fleeting forays into New York politics — she ran for governor in 2010 — and is even the godfather to her young son.
She has also served prison stints for running a prostitution ring and selling prescription drugs, and was most recently released in May 2016, according to the Bureau of Prisons. But on CNN last month, Stone called her “a brilliant woman who has paid her debt to society,” and said Davis “has helped me build some websites,” among other collaborations.
Davis’ testimony Friday further underscores how widely Mueller’s probe has reached, and how many unanswered questions remain about his work.
It could also be the latest sign that prosecutors are tightening a ring around Stone, whom Democrats say has not been forthcoming about his 2016 contacts with WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange; the website released thousands of Democratic emails during the last presidential campaign that proved highly damaging to Hillary Clinton.
Stone emphatically rejects such talk, saying he has nothing to hide. And he has dismissed speculation that Davis has anything to offer Mueller about whether Trump associates conspired with Russians to influence the 2016 election.
“She knows of no Russian collusion,” Stone said on CNN on Wednesday night. “She’s going to talk to the prosecutors voluntarily. She’s not looking for a media circus in her life.” (That may be wishful thinking: The scene outside the federal courthouse when Davis arrives is likely to be a chaotic scrum of reporters and television cameras.)
Whether or not that’s true, Stone is clearly under Mueller’s spotlight. The special counsel’s team of prosecutors have already interviewed longtime Stone colleagues Sam Nunberg and Michael Caputo. Another Stone aide, Andrew Miller, is fighting a Mueller subpoena in court. And on Thursday, MSNBC reported that Mueller’s team is prepared to issue another subpoena to Stone associate Randy Credico, a comedian and former talk radio host who Stone has said was in touch with Assange.
Stone has previously said he is prepared to be indicted, though he insists that if he is, it would be for an "extraneous" business-related infraction unrelated to Russian election meddling.
Stone’s denials of illicit contacts with Russians or with Wikileaks have come under suspicion given comments he made during the campaign indicating that he'd been in contact with Assange. He later said those contacts were made through Credico, who acted as an intermediary. Stone also acknowledged exchanging Twitter messages with Guccifer 2.0, the nom de plume of a figure who helped disseminate hacked Democratic Party emails in 2016. U.S. intelligence officials say Guccifer 2.0 was a front for Russian intelligence operatives, though Stone has cast doubt on that theory.
Stone insisted late Wednesday that Davis had no information that would contradict his assertions. The two have been friends for years, he noted, and he said she didn’t work for him during the two years Mueller is most closely focused on: 2015 and 2016.
Davis’ attorney did not respond to a request for comment.
Stone's own role in the probe has been a central point of intrigue. He lashed out at congressional investigators last year for refusing to question him publicly. And he's insisted that he's had no contact with Mueller's investigators, even as they've encroached upon his closest associates.
Though Stone insisted that there are “no circumstances” in which he’d testify against Trump, he did crack the door open Wednesday to cooperating with Mueller’s probe.
After noting Mueller’s apparent strategy of “squeezing underlings to get them to compose testimony against a bigger fish,” Stone told CNN's Anderson Cooper Wednesday. “I would not rule out cooperating if I could be helpful in some area.”