- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 21, 2019

A federal judge on Thursday banned longtime Trump confidante Roger Stone from speaking publicly about his criminal case after he attacked her integrity on Instagram — including posting a photo that appeared to put rifle scope crosshairs on her.

Judge Amy Berman Jackson said Mr. Stone cannot speak about the case with members of the press, nor can he post about it on social media or blogs, nor issue press releases. Potential Stone surrogates were also ordered not to make statements.

The order represents a sharp rebuke of Mr. Stone, who has been a vocal and frequent television guest in the weeks since he was arrested last month on charges that included lying to Congress.

Judge Jackson had imposed a narrower gag order last week, but she said Mr. Stone’s move to post the Instagram photo with crosshairs left her no choice but to issue more restrictions.

“The privilege, the liberty he was afforded was promptly abused,” she said, admonishing the 66-year-old Republican operative. 

If Mr. Stone violates the order, Judge Jackson said she will revoke his bail, sending him to prison before his trial.

“This is not baseball,” she said. “There will not be a third chance.” 

Mr. Stone can continue to raise funds for his defense and speak about his guilt or innocence, Judge Jackson said. 

Appearing before Judge Jackson on Thursday, Mr. Stone took the stand and apologized, calling the Instagram post a “momentary lapse in judgment.”

“I’m hurtfully sorry for my own stupidity,” Mr. Stone said under oath. “I am kicking myself, not as hard as my wife is kicking me.”

But he gave conflicting versions of how the post came to be, first blaming someone else for the post then later saying a “volunteer” sent it to him and he posted it himself.

He said he couldn’t recall who sent him the image or which volunteers have access to his phone.

An exasperated Judge Jackson called his defense incredible, and used air quotes to describe his “apology.”

“I’m not giving you another chance,” she said. “I have serious doubts whether you’ve learned any lesson at all.”

Judge Jackson could have sent Mr. Stone to jail or required him to put up more money to retain his liberty. He’s currently out on $250,000 bond, with restricted travel.

Mr. Stone is facing seven criminal counts. He is accused of making false statements when he testified to a congressional committee in 2017 that he had no communications with Wikileaks, the group that published a trove of emails allegedly stolen by Russian hackers from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

He also faces witness tampering and obstruction charges. 

On Monday, Mr. Stone shared the controversial picture on his Instagram account. A caption with the photo called special counsel Robert Mueller a “Deep State hitman,” and implied Judge Jackson, an Obama appointee, is biased against conservatives because of her decisions in a Benghazi-related case and a criminal case against former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort.

“#fixisn,” Mr. Stone said in the scathing post. 

He quickly replaced the post with another image of Judge Jackson, this time without the crosshairs. He also changed the text about Mr. Mueller. That post was also pulled.

Mr. Stone recognized the impropriety and had it removed,” his legal team said in a notice of apology filed with the court Monday. 

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