A federal judge on Monday asked the Justice Department and attorneys for Roger Stone to address whether the longtime GOP operative violated a court-imposed gag order as his sentencing date looms.
“The parties are directed to include in their sentencing memoranda any arguments they wish to make concerning the defendant’s compliance with the court’s media communications order … including, in particular, his compliance during the trial,” wrote U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson of Washington, D.C.
Stone is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 20 after a jury last year convicted him of lying to Congress, obstructing justice and witness tampering. His case is one of the last remaining threads from special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
The flamboyant self-described dirty trickster landed in hot water with Judge Jackson over comments he made to the media ahead of his trial.
Initially, Judge Jackson issued a limited gag order on Stone, barring him from making statements about the high-profile case within the vicinity of the Washington courthouse. However, after Stone posted an image online of Judge Jackson that appeared to include rifle crosshairs next to her head, she tightened the gag order blocking any public statements about the case or Mueller’s team.
Stone was barred from making indirect comments through family members or others. But prosecutors insisted Stone repeatedly violated that order and Judge Jackson tightened it again, banning comments on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook “on any subject.”
Stone asked a federal appeals court to overturn the gag order, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit rejected the petition, saying he missed the appeal deadline.
On the eve of a verdict in the November criminal trial, right-wing provocateur Alex Jones broadcast a message reportedly from Stone asking President Trump to issue a pardon.
Stone’s attorneys quickly moved to shut him up, Mr. Jones said in a subsequent broadcast on his Infowars show.
“Your reporting almost got Roger taken into custody immediately upon the verdicts. The government cited you and argued for immediate imprisonment. Please be cautious about your comments concerning private communications,” a text to Mr. Jones from one of Stone’s lawyers reportedly said.
Immediately after Stone was found guilty, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Kravis asked the judge to place the political operative behind bars until his sentencing. Mr. Kravis said he believed Stone would defy court orders because he allegedly violated his gag orders by contacting Mr. Jones.
Judge Jackson rejected the bid to lock up Stone, sending him home to his family while still under the gag order. But she admitted having “serious concerns” about the publicity surrounding the trial.
The gag order’s “purpose was to ensure the safety of members of the community associated with the case,” she said.