Judge lights into Roger Stone over threatening Instagram post, issues new gag order

"You apparently need clear boundaries," the judge told Stone. "So there they are."

Roger Stone arrives at U.S. District Court in Washington, DC, on Feb. 21, 2019. Credit: Brendan Smialowski / AFP
Roger Stone arrives at U.S. District Court in Washington, DC, on Feb. 21, 2019. Credit: Brendan Smialowski / AFP

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The federal judge overseeing former Trump campaign aide Roger Stone’s criminal trial barred him on Thursday from speaking publicly about the case or anyone involved with it, just days after he posted a photo on Instagram that appeared to show her next to rifle crosshairs. His previous gag order only prevented him from speaking to press in or around the courthouse, but didn’t prevent him from making media appearances.

In the post, Stone accused Judge Amy Berman Jackson of political bias, claimed special counsel Robert Mueller is part of a government conspiracy against President Donald Trump, and asked for funds for his defense.

Stone deleted the photo Monday and filed a “notice of apology,” saying he “had no intention of disrespecting the Court.”

Jackson didn’t buy that explanation, as she read her ruling from the bench Thursday.

“No, Mr. Stone, I am not giving you another chance,” she said. “I have serious doubts that you’ve learned any lessons at all.”

Stone’s wife and daughter were in the courtroom Thursday. Dressed in a blue suit and tie, he sat sullen beside lawyers Bruce Rogow and Robert Bueschel as Jackson handed down the new gag order. It prevents Stone from speaking publicly about his case, the investigation, or anyone involved in either, with the sole exceptions of soliciting funds for his defense and claiming his innocence.

“You apparently need clear boundaries,” Jackson said. “So there they are.”

Stone’s original gag order, issued last week, barred anyone involved in the case from speaking about it in or around the courthouse. The Instagram post didn’t expressly violate that order, but it tempted Jackson, who had already warned Stone against “treating the proceedings in this case like a book tour.”


“What will get him to stop talking other than a court order?” an exasperated Jackson asked Rogow, a First Amendment specialist, before handing down her order Thursday.

Before Jackson issued her ruling, Stone took the stand in his own defense. He used a series of questions from Rogow, who famously represented 2 Live Crew, to repeatedly apologize to Jackson for what he called “a stupid mistake.” But he also painted himself as embattled and financially drained, saying he is being treated for emotional stress and is having trouble “putting food on the table.”

“I now have television commentators speculating about the possibility that I’ll be raped in prison,” Stone said, to laughter from a court observer, whom bailiffs removed. “This is an extremely stressful situation.”

At first, Stone said that he thought a volunteer had emailed or texted him the photo that ended up in his Instagram post. Under grilling from Jackson and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Kravis, he eventually testified that a “volunteer” — he could not say which — had saved “two or three” photos of Jackson to his phone and he had chosen one to post “at random.” Stone also said he wrote the caption that accompanied the photo.

“Do you know how to do a Google search?” Jackson asked, visibly frustrated with Stone’s testimony. “Do the volunteers who work for you know how to do a Google search? How hard was it to come up with a photo that didn’t have a crosshairs in the corner?”


When Kravis pressed Stone to name his “five or six” volunteers, Stone offered just four names — InfoWars contributor Jacob Engels, Raymond Perez, Proud Boys Florida chapter founder Tyler Whyte, and Proud Boys national chairman Enrique Tarrio. But he punted at naming others.

“I’m sorry, I don’t recall the others,” Stone said. “It’s a revolving situation.”

In her ruling, Jackson took a swipe at Stone’s apparent waffling on how many volunteers he has and who they are, referencing Stone’s “quote unquote ‘many’ volunteers.” She also rejected Stone’s apology for the Instagram post, saying it “rings quite hollow” in light of his subsequent media statements and his shifting testimony.

“I do not find any of the evolving and contradictory explanations credible,” Jackson said in her ruling. “Mr. Stone could not keep his story straight on the stand, much less from day to day.”

Stone faces seven criminal counts of obstructing a proceeding, lying to Congress, and tampering with a witness. Prosecutors say Stone was trying to cover up his attempts in 2016 to communicate with the transparency organization Wikileaks about emails stolen from Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign — all allegedly part of Russia’s effort to sway the 2016 presidential election for President Donald Trump.

Jackson was assigned to Stone’s case because prosecutors say it is related to another case she is overseeing, the indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officers last July for allegedly stealing emails from the Clinton campaign. In court filings this week, prosecutors said some of their evidence against Stone came from warrants in the other case.


Stone is fighting the prosecutor’s claim that the two cases are related in an effort to get Jackson, who was appointed by former President Barack Obama, removed and have his case reassigned.

“Through Deep State trickery legal hitman Robert Mueller has guaranteed that my upcoming show trial is before Judge Amy Berman Jackson,” Stone wrote in his now-deleted Instagram post.

Those motions are still pending, and Jackson said she will set motion deadlines at the next status conference. In the meantime, she had strong words of warning for Stone.

“Today, I gave you a second chance,” she told Stone in her ruling. “But this is not baseball, and there will not be a third chance.”