Did Roger Stone Violate His Gag Order?

Getty Roger Stone, a former advisor to President Donald Trump, speaks to the media after leaving the Federal Courthouse on January 25, 2019 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Roger Stone has not been allowed to talk to the media about his ongoing criminal case or post about it on social media since D.C. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson imposed a full gag order on February 21, 2019. But prosecutors filed documents on March 4 questioning whether Stone had violated the terms of the gag order with an Instagram post and with the re-release of a book.

Stone, a political consultant and longtime ally of President Donald Trump, is facing charges including witness tampering, obstruction and making false statements to Congress. Judge Jackson restricted his public speech after he posted a photo of her that included what appeared to be crosshairs near her head.

Judge Jackson warned Stone and his attorneys that Stone would not be granted a third chance if he violated the terms of the gag order. Another violation could result in the revocation of his bail and Stone would be put behind bars. His attorneys argued that it did not occur to them to mention the republishing of Stone’s book because he wrote the introduction prior to his arrest.

As of March 14, Judge Jackson had not ruled on whether Stone had violated the gag order. But she did set his trial court date for November 5, 2019.

Here’s what you need to know.

1. Prosecutors Alerted Judge Jackson to Stone’s Book & an Instagram Post Shared on March 3

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Prosecutors are asking whether the publishing of Roger Stone’s book violates his gag order. Prosecutors filed a motion on March 4, 2019, asking Judge Amy Berman Jackson to weigh in. The memo was filed by U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Jessie K. Liu and Special Counsel Robert Mueller. The document alerts the judge that Roger Stone’s book “The Myth of Russian Collusion” has been published with a new introduction.

It also referenced a social media post that appeared to suggest that Stone had been framed. “We note for the Court that according to public reporting, on March 3, 2019, the defendant’s Instagram account shared an image with the title ‘who framed Roger Stone.’ A copy of the image is submitted under seal as Exhibit C.1”

The post appears to have been deleted from Stone’s Instagram page. Los Angeles Times reporter Chris Megerian shared a screengrab of the image to social media, and it is embedded above. The Instagram post was reportedly posted less than two days after Judge Jackson had asked Stone’s defense team to explain why they had not previously mentioned the re-release of Stone’s book.

2. Stone’s Defense Attorneys Argue That the Re-Release of Roger Stone’s Book Does Not Violate the Gag Order Because it Was Published Two Days Before the Gag Order Was Imposed

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Roger Stone’s defense team quickly filed a response. In the court document, which was significantly redacted, his attorneys acknowledged that on February 21, “the defendant is prohibited from making statements to the media or in public settings about the Special Counsel’s investigation or this case or any of the participants in the investigation of the case.”

It states that Roger Stone submitted a new introduction to Skyhorse Publishing on January 14, 2019, for his book “The Myth of Russian Collusion.” It was originally published in 2017 as “The Making of the President 2016.” The new version was published on February 19, 2019. The document states, “To the best of Stone’s knowledge, information, and belief, not a single word in the book was created after February 21, 2019.” It adds, “Defendant respectfully requests that the publication of this book should not be viewed as contravening the Court’s prohibitions because these prohibitions were not extant and could not have been known prior to February 21, 2019.”

3. Stone’s Defense Team Included a Sworn Statement By the Book Publisher Stating That Stone Provided the Final Drafts For the New Introduction in Mid-January

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Roger Stone’s legal team stated to the D.C. District Court that they did not mention the re-release of Stone’s book during the gag order hearing “because at that time there was no restraint on Defendant’s speech or communicative ability, nor was there any such restraint until the conclusion of the February 21, 2019 hearing.” They added that once Stone had turned in the final draft of the new introduction, he had “no control over the printing, distribution, or sales of the New Edition.”

Stone’s attorneys submitted a declaration from Anthony Lyons, the publisher of Skyhorse Publishing. He included in the statement that Stone submitted the introduction on January 14, 2019, and approved the publisher’s edits the following day. The “The Myth of Russian Collusion” was sent to the printers in late January. Lyons said the book was available in bookstores on or before February 19, 2019. This was two days before Judge Jackson imposed the complete gag order. You can read the full declaration embedded above.

4. Roger Stone Refers to Special Counsel Robert Mueller as ‘Crooked’ in the Introduction to His Book

Roger Stone included a lengthy introduction to the new version of his book “The Myth of Russian Collusion.” The introduction, which you can read in its entirety on Google Books, Stone slams the Russia investigation and Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

The introduction reads in part, “I could not have predicted that my involvement in the [Trump] campaign would become the center of this conspiracy. I now find myself on Crooked Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller’s hit list because I’ve advised Donald Trump for the past 40 years. I am being targeted not because I committed a crime, but because the Deep State liberals want to silence me and pressure me to testify against my good friend.” Stone also states that there is no evidence that he knew ahead of time that Wikileaks was planning to release stolen emails damaging to the Hillary Clinton campaign. You can see the indictment, which lays out the special counsel’s evidence against Stone, here.

The description of “The Myth of Russian Collusion” by Skyhorse Publishing, which was published on Amazon, reads in part: “America’s ruling elite and liberal media, feeling threatened, have conspired to create the biggest witch hunt in our country’s history. The phony narrative that Trump was in cahoots with Vladimir Putin, Mueller’s charges that Roger Stone knew about the Wikileaks emails before release—all is debunked here. With a new introduction that responds to the Mueller investigation, The Myth of Russian Collusion is the true story of the Trump campaign that the establishment doesn’t want you to believe.”

5. Roger Stone Was Put Under a Total Gag Order Over a Picture of the Judge That Could Be Viewed as Threatening

Roger Stone is allowed to send emails to supporters in order to raise money for his legal fund, but that’s about it. Judge Amy Berman Jackson imposed the gag order on February 21, 2019, over an Instagram post that could be viewed as threatening. Roger Stone shared a picture of Judge Jackson that had crosshairs near her head. He later deleted the image.

In court, Stone’s argument was that the image was not of crosshairs, but was actually a Celtic symbol and that he had never meant to imply a threat. But Judge Jackson was not convinced. She told Stone that the image could incite someone to violence. She chose to further restrict his ability to talk about the case to the media. But she warned that any further violation would result in Stone being sent to prison. Judge Jackson told Stone in court on February 21, “today I gave you a second chance. But this is not baseball. There will not be a third chance.”

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