How an ex-madam, a political trickster and a toddler got tangled up in the Russia investigation
NEW YORK - The toddler, a beefy charmer with oceans of brown curls, isn't making it easy for Mom to navigate up the stairs inside their apartment.
He's squirming on her right hip, reaching out his arms and mumbling a demand that's muffled by his pacifier.
"There's your godfather!" the platinum blond mother says when she reaches the second floor, releasing the little guy into the arms of a silver-haired man in a seersucker suit seated on a zebra-striped armchair.
Mom was once a famous madam, the godfather is an infamous political trickster, the moptop child is turning into a social media darling. Now these unlikely roomies - the former "Manhattan Madam" Kristin Davis, President Donald Trump's longtime confidant Roger Stone and 2-year-old Carter Stone Davis - have become inextricably linked characters in the melodrama swirling around the ongoing investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
On Friday, Davis, who has worked as a Web designer and travel scheduler for Stone, was set to become the latest associate of the political operative to appear before the grand jury convened by special counsel Robert Mueller. At least half a dozen of Stone's associates have been subpoenaed or been contacted by the special counsel's office. Investigators have been looking into Stone's communication with the Twitter persona Guccifer 2.0, which U.S. intelligence officials say was a front operated by the Russian military to disseminate hacked Democratic emails to be released by WikiLeaks and tilt the election in Trump's favor.
Stone has denied wrongdoing and characterizes his Twitter exchange with Guccifer 2.0 as benign. Davis calls the whole thing a witch hunt.
Stone, who has said it is conceivable that the special counsel could seek to indict him by conjuring an "extraneous crime" related to his businesses, has accused investigators of harassing his associates, including Davis, with whom he says he has a platonic relationship. Late last month, Stone, 65, posted a photo of Davis, 41, and her son on his Instagram account, writing: "Why do FBI agents dispatched by Robert Mueller keep asking a number of my current and former associates if I am this baby's father? What does this have to do with Russian Collusion and the 2016 election."
A spokesman for the special counsel's office declined to comment.
Stone, a self-professed practitioner of dark political arts, said that Davis was not working for him in 2015 or 2016 during the run-up to Trump's candidacy and the election campaign. He said she is appearing before the grand jury voluntarily.
"She is a brilliant businesswoman who paid her debt to society and has remade her life," Stone said via text message. "She has no knowledge of Russian collusion, WikiLeaks collaboration or any other illegal activity on my part. At the instruction of my attorneys, I have not discussed her testimony with her."
Davis and Stone have been friends since 2008. She says she met him when they appeared together on a radio show following her release from New York's Rikers Island jail, where she'd served several months on a charge of promoting prostitution. Stone called her, she says, and declared: "You're brilliant. Can we talk about what you're going to do with your life?"
Davis, a poised and articulate speaker who has touted her business acumen, had a compelling backstory, one with natural appeal to Stone, a bon vivant with a long-established reputation for taking delight in all things salacious who sometimes quips that he is "tri-sexual. I've tried everything."
Davis, who was born in Southern California, lived for several years as a teenager in the Central Valley city of Fresno, where she was raised by a single mother.
"There's been a lot of talk about me being 'trailer trash,' '' she writes in her memoir, "The Manhattan Madam" But she writes that her family's trailer was in a community that included a mix of stand-alone homes and trailers and was "at worst, lower middle-class."
In her late teens, she says, she was already working in the finance industry, eventually becoming a vice president at an East Coast hedge fund in her early 20s. She noticed how highflying finance types celebrated by hiring prostitutes. Sensing a business opportunity, she opened a high-end prostitution service in New York.
At its height, she says, she had a roster of 10,000 clients willing to pay more than $1,000 an hour for sex or companionship. She managed the business but didn't have sex with clients herself, she says. Her staff called her "Mama Fabulous."She also developed her own websites - a skill that would come in handy years later when she met Stone.
Davis has claimed repeatedly that Eliot Spitzer, the former New York governor, was one of her frequent clients, using the code name "James" while he was serving as the state's attorney general. She dedicated a full chapter in her book to those allegations. Spitzer has vigorously denied the claims. He declined to comment.
Davis was arrested and sent to Rikers in 2008, the same year that Spitzer, who was never charged with a crime, resigned as governor after the New York Times reported that he'd patronized the Emperors Club VIP, another high-priced prostitution service.
After her release, Davis says, Stone, who would become one of her closest friends, "hounded" her for months to run for office.
"That's what he does," she said this week. "He hounded Trump for years."
Davis got on the New York gubernatorial ballot in 2010 and garnered more than 20,000 votes - less than 1 percent of the ballots cast. After that campaign, Davis says, she worked on and off for Stone, helping him develop the websites, such as StoneColdTruth.com and StoneOnStyle.com, that he uses to promote his books and publish his voluminous writings on politics, scandal and fashion.
The two weren't done with elections, though. In 2013, Davis filed to run for New York City comptroller, setting up a possible election contest with her nemesis Spitzer, who had declared his candidacy for the same post. Those plans were derailed by another arrest, this one in 2013 for passing prescription pills to a drug dealer who planned to resell them.
After serving 18 months in prison, she was released from a halfway house in May 2016 and was looking to put her life back together. She'd gotten pregnant after leaving federal custody and was separated from the child's father. Stone - who splits time between New York and Florida - offered her a place to stay. She moved into his apartment on 71st Street in New York for a few months. In September of that year, after getting her own apartment, she had her baby. Stone, who'd helped her through months of her pregnancy, had a suggestion for the infant's name: "Roger."
"Roger kind of felt like he deserved it," Davis says with a chuckle. "I said, 'Absolutely not!' "
Instead, Stone and his wife, Nydia, became the child's godparents. Davis says she flies to Florida every three or four months so that her son can spend time with Stone's wife, who seldom goes to New York.
"She's a saint," Davis says.
The dates of Davis's employment with Stone could be of interest to the special counsel's investigators, who have examined his activities during the presidential campaign and Twitter messages Stone sent to Guccifer 2.0 in August 2016 - three months before the presidential election. Davis and Stone say she didn't resume working for him until January 2017, though she received an advance on her first paycheck in December 2016.
In February 2017, they moved into a spacious apartment in a building in Harlem, with Davis and her infant son taking the lower level and Stone occupying a second story filled floor to ceiling with memorabilia celebrating the two presidents with whom he's most associated: Trump and Richard Nixon. In his upstairs bathroom, there is a framed poster of a topless woman advertising "De Kinky Dance Party" at a club in the Netherlands.
Davis plans to launch a nails and waxing salon called Bombshell Beauty Lab soon after her grand jury appearance. On social media, she has chided publications for publishing older images of her in outfits with plunging, cleavage-revealing outfits.
She says she no longer does website development for Stone, instead primarily handling his travel schedule and bookings, shuttling between the two floors of their apartment. Stone's quarters are equipped with broadcasting equipment for his regular appearances on Infowars, the controversial, conspiracy-oriented website run by Alex Jones. As the Mueller probe has progressed, the apartment - much like Stone's home and office in Florida - has become a command center in his campaign to discredit the investigation.
Some days, Carter Stone Davis sits on his godfather's lap during his broadcasts.
"He loooves Roger," Davis says one afternoon as Stone barks into a cellphone in one hand and cradles her son with the other. "The softer side of Stone, I like to call it."