WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Donald Trump’s former campaign aide, Roger J. Stone Jr., may face a gag order in his perjury case after a media blitz over the past week.
At a status hearing Friday in D.C. District Court, Judge Amy Berman Jackson said she didn’t want the parties “treating the proceedings in this case like a book tour.”
If Jackson puts a gag order in place, Stone and his attorneys would still be able to speak with the media “about foreign policy, immigration, or Tom Brady,” as the judge put it Friday, but they would be barred from discussing the case publicly.
Federal agents arrested Stone last week on charges that he lied to Congress and tampered with witnesses in the ongoing probe into the Trump campaign’s involvement in Russian election meddling. While recognizing Stone’s First Amendment right and his interest in publicly defending himself against a very public arrest and indictment, Jackson said Stone had now had that chance.
“Notwithstanding the fact that the defendant is well-known in certain circles, I believe we can seat a jury” that has not been tainted by media coverage, Jackson said, but she worried that could change if either side in the case continue to talk to the press.
Prosecutors have kept silent to the media about Stone, issuing no comments to ThinkProgress and other outlets when asked about the case. But Stone has been prolific, holding a press conference Thursday and making the rounds with conservative media.
“This is a criminal proceeding and not a public relations campaign,” Jackson said.
Both sides have a week to make motions on the gag order. Stone said he felt “excellent” as he exited the courtroom, but neither he nor his attorneys would comment on the gag order proposal.
Stone wore a dark chalk-striped suit and a dark tie at the hearing Friday as he sat quietly between two of his lawyers, Tara Campion and Robert Bueschel. Assistant United States Attorney Nicholas Miranda, of the District of Columbia, spoke for the government at the hearing, which lasted less than half an hour. Lawyers for the Special Counsel’s Office, which is leading an investigation into Russian election meddling, were also present.
Prosecutors accuse Stone of lying to cover up his communications in 2016 with two men he hoped would put him in touch with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who had unpublished emails that Russia stole from Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
The indictment does not identify the two men Stone made contact with, but they’re believed to be conservative media personalities Jerome Corsi and Randolph Credico. Corsi has confirmed to ThinkProgress that he is one of the men.
On Friday, Jackson made some mostly technical modifications to Stone’s conditions of release, which prevent him from having direct or indirect contact with any witnesses in the case and only allow him to travel between New York, D.C., and his home state of Florida. Stone has surrendered his passport to pretrial services, Miranda told the judge.
Jackson also signed an order proposed by the government to make the case complex, which waves certain provisions for a speedy trial and gives both parties more time to go over what prosecutors said in a court filing Thursday is “voluminous and complex” discovery. She also issued a blanket protective order on discovery documents that prevents both parties from sharing them with anyone not involved in the case. Stone’s attorneys agreed to both motions.
Stone has been subdued in his two court appearances so far, answering the judge’s questions succinctly. But there were flashes of theatrics as he walked into the bitter cold outside the courthouse Friday, flashing his signature Richard Nixon salute before rushing into a white SUV with his lawyers.
“Will Marcus Garvey get a pardon?” one onlooker asked before the doors closed and the SUV sped away. Stone wrote a letter to Trump last year asking asking him to pardon Garvey, an icon of black nationalism who died in 1940.
“Yes!” Stone shouted over his lawyer, defiantly.
Stone said Thursday that he has not spoken with the White House about a pardon for himself. Asked about a pardon for Stone on Monday, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders declined to comment on “hypotheticals that are just ridiculous.”