Judge slaps Roger Stone with a gag order for his 'sinister' post: 'The apology rings quite hollow'
When Roger Stone posted an inflammatory and threatening picture Monday on Instagram of the judge who is overseeing his case next to crosshairs, it was clear he had seriously damaged his legal standing.
And on Thursday, Judge Amy Berman Jackson issued a gag order on Stone in response. She had previously issued only a limited gag order on him covering comments made within the vicinity of the courthouse, while also restraining what his lawyers could say publicly. Now, he cannot say anything publicly about the case, the investigation, or anyone involved in the proceedings.
If he violates this order, Jackson said, his bond could be revoked and he could be detained until his trial.
"Today I gave you a second chance," the judge said. "But this is not baseball."
Stone is currently out on bond while he waits for his trial for the charge brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller as part of the Russia investigation. On Monday, as part of his campaign against the charges and to undermine the case against him, he posted the picture of Jackson along with a caption attacking her decision to oversee his case, over his lawyer's objections.
But as reporters and others pointed out how grossly inappropriate the picture was, Stone seemed to realize he made a mistake. First, he reposted a modified version that removed the crosshairs, and then he took the image down altogether and filed a formal apology with the court.
At the hearing to discuss the matter on Thursday, Stone apologized to the judge and attempted to excuse his actions.
"I am kicking myself over my own stupidity," Stone said, according to reporter Zoe Tillman. He blamed the action on the level of stress he is under, saying that he is struggling financially.
He denied that the symbol was crosshairs, suggesting he thought it might be an "occult" or "Celtic" sign.
He also tried to distance himself from the post, saying that he "didn't look at it" and "didn't review it properly," reported Andrew Prokop.
But when Jackson asked directly who posted it, Stone said he did — a claim that made the judge angrily interrupt him, according to Prokop. She pointed out that he had said he didn't review it. He tried to argue that he only meant that he didn't review it closely — but he did, in fact, post it.
Stone did say he had several "volunteers" who help him, suggesting but not directing claiming that they may be at fault, but he couldn't remember all of their names.
When a prosecutor asked Stone if he still had the image of the judge on his phone, he said he deleted the "images." The judge noted that this implied that Stone had a choice in which picture to post, which he confirmed, saying, "It was an error."
After returning from a short break, Jackson issued the gag order.
"Thank you," she said in response to Stone's apology. "But the apology rings quite hollow."
She called the post a "sinister message," adding: “Roger Stone fully understands the power of words and the power of symbols. And there’s nothing ambiguous about crosshairs.”