Published: Wed, July 17, 2019
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Judge bars Roger Stone from social media

Judge bars Roger Stone from social media

Roger Stone, the longtime GOP operative under federal indictment, has been barred from using social media after a federal judge found he had violated a gag order preventing him from publicly discussing the charges against him.

"During a contentious Tuesday hearing, she addressed about a dozen social media posts and other comments Stone has made dating back to February that government prosecutor Jonathan Kravis in court argued "clearly violate" the gag order", Politico reported.

But Jackson said another, more basic question was of concern: whether Stone violated her original order.

Defense lawyers argued that Stone was only commenting on Schiff and not the case.

"I've twice given you the benefit of the doubt".

Berman said dealing with Stone was like "wrestling with behavior that has more to do with middle school than a court of law".

Stone's attorney Bruce Rogow had called the court gag order, which he had helped draft, "overbroad", and argued that Stone should not be prevented from commenting about the media, court filings, or USA officials in general.

One post, she said, featured a photo of Adam Schiff, the Democratic chairman of the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, next to a meter saying "bullSchiff". Another involved a statement Stone emailed to Buzzfeed News to deny testimony by Trump's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen during a congressional hearing.

Stone, a long-time Republican political strategist and self-described "agent provocateur" and "dirty trickster", is accused by prosecutors of lying to House Intelligence Committee investigators looking into Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election, as well as tampering with witnesses.

Mueller indicted Stone in January on five counts of lying to Congress, witness tampering and obstruction of justice. But the judge faulted them for failing to mention the existence of the book during a hearing on the order and suggested that revealing it belatedly was meant to generate publicity.

Rogow told Jackson he did not think any of the posts violated the judge's prior order, adding: "I am sorry the court is offended".

In that hearing Stone tried to apologize, saying the posting was not intended as a threat. "Apparently so", Rogow added.

Mueller completed his probe in March, and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia is now handling the prosecution of Stone.

Rogow argued that Stone was using social media to communicate to others what is happening in the case, "but not doing it in a way that would affect or infect what the whole underlying reason is for the Court's order" - to ensure an impartial jury and a fair trial. She cast him as a publicity hound who either can not or will not follow simple orders to not publicly comment on the case. U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson imposed the order in February after Stone posted a photo of the judge with what appeared to be crosshairs of a gun.

The posts at issue included several instances of Stone posting screenshots of articles or commentary on politicians.

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