Roger Stone is under fire for possible violations of his court-imposed gag order after a weekend social media post suggested he’d been “framed” in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation and ahead of the imminent re-release of a book he co-wrote that explores the “myth of Russian collusion.”
The longtime Donald Trump associate remains under a Feb. 21 order from U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson that bans him from making public comments of any kind about his upcoming criminal trial on charges of lying to Congress and obstructing lawmakers’ Russia probe.
But Stone on several recent occasions has already tested the limits of the gag order — which did allow him to continue speaking about matters unrelated to the Russia investigation, and also to make statements to raise money for his legal defense fund and to explain in simple terms that he had entered a plea of not guilty.
In a filing with Jackson on Monday, Mueller’s office pointed to public reporting that Stone on Sunday had posted an image to his Instagram account with the words “who framed Roger Stone.”
The special counsel’s office took no other position on the post, which was made on the same social media platform as a controversial image that landed Stone in trouble last month because it featured Jackson with what appeared to be a gun’s crosshairs above her head. Stone deleted that image and replaced it with one without the crosshairs. He then later deleted that second Instagram post.
Stone’s lawyers, meantime, were required Monday to explain to Jackson why she wasn’t made aware of the “imminent general release” of his book. In a four-page memo, they wrote that the book, originally published under a different title in 2017, went through the writing and editing process in January and “to the best of Stone’s knowledge, information and belief, not a single word in the book was created” since Jackson late last month issued her gag order.
They also explained in a separate filing that they didn’t bring the book to Jackson’s attention when she held a Feb. 21 hearing on the topic because “it did not occur to counsel that he should then … present issues regarding Mr. Stone’s prior writings — namely, in January 2019.”
Stone remains “committed to complying” with the gag order, according to the filing, and his lawyers pressed Jackson for “clarification” related to the book’s publication. They also submitted a declaration from Stone’s publisher stating that the book was already on retailers’ bookshelves in early February and had sold 96 copies as of Feb. 16.
The book and the latest Instagram post aren’t the only recent examples where the self-described GOP dirty trickster has come under scrutiny over the limits of the judge’s gag order.
Last week, Stone emailed POLITICO and several other media outlets to push back against Michael Cohen, the former Trump lawyer and fixer, who testified to a House committee about a July 2016 phone call he’d overheard on speakerphone between Stone and Trump.
“Mr. Cohen’s statement is not true,” Stone wrote last week after the release of Cohen’s opening statement, which detailed a call in which he said that Stone told Trump about his contact with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and about how “within a couple days there would be a massive dump of emails that would damage Hillary Clinton’s campaign.”
Stone could face contempt charges, including his potential jailing or other penalties if found in violation of the gag order. At last month’s hearing, Jackson excoriated Stone for his initial Instagram post with the image that appeared to be of a gun crosshairs, noting that he had clearly crossed a line after her initial decision to limit his speaking about the case only when he wasn’t in the vicinity of the Washington courthouse where he’ll stand trial later this summer or early fall.
“Today, I gave you a second chance,” Jackson told Stone during that hearing. “This is not baseball, you don’t get a third chance.”
Jackson is the judge who imposed a gag order on Paul Manafort — the former Trump campaign chairman and a former Stone business partner — shortly after his October 2017 indictment. She later jailed Manafort over allegations of witness tampering.
Article originally published on POLITICO Magazine
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