Wednesday, 21 August, 2019

Judge: Roger Stone Violated Gag Order, Banned From All Social Media

Roger Stone a longtime adviser to President Donald Trump departs the U.S. District Courthouse Judge considers whether to punish Roger Stone for social media posts
Deanna Wagner | 19 July, 2019, 17:00

A judge ordered Republican operative Roger Stone, a longtime associate of Donald Trump, to stop using social media because he violated a court's gag order.

Mueller indicted Stone in January on five counts of lying to Congress, witness tampering and obstruction of justice.

The government had argued that Stone violated the judge's gag order with Instagram posts that disparaged the Mueller investigation and the broader election interference probe.

"Mr. Stone, what am I supposed to do with you?"

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

All previous restrictions on statements made to the media, in public settings, and on other social media about the Special Counsel's investigation, this case, or any of the participants in the investigation or the case, remain in force as set forth in the Court's orders of February 15, 2019 and February 21, 2019 and the conditions of release, and the defendant remains bound by all other conditions of release, including the prohibition on contacting witnesses.

Jackson said she would not jail Stone for violating the order, saying a contempt hearing, which could result in jail time or a fine, would only generate more media attention that could affect potential jurors down the road.

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At Tuesday's hearing, prosecutors cited 11 Instagram posts and a text message to a reporter to argue Stone had violated the gag order.

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

She said postings in Stone's Instagram account included photos of commentators referring to the "Russia Hoax" and claiming Stone's defense has exposed "the "intelligence community's" betrayal of their responsibilities" and revealed "deeply disturbing lessons about the level of corruption at the top levels of the agencies charged with protecting us from external threats".

Another post, in which Stone responded to a Politico story and called those who work at the publication as "biased elitist snot-nosed fake news shitheads who's specialty is distortion by omitting key facts to create a false narrative", didn't do much to help his case. But the judge told Stone she could revisit her decision if he violates her orders again. The judge then asked if the post was in "contravention" of her order.

Kravis recommended a "complete social media ban", and the judge agreed. The posts included screenshots of news pieces calling into question intelligence agencies' conclusion that Russian Federation had hacked Democratic email accounts, and exhortations that mainstream media organizations should cover that side of the story.

"I am sorry that the court is offended by these". The incident led Jackson to significantly strengthen the gag order on the case. The caption, which Jackson read aloud on Tuesday, read: "In 50 years in American politics I have never come across a shiftier and more duplicitous con man and charlatan than @repadamschiff".

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Kravis said "there's no ambiguity" that Stone's posts have crossed the line and that the defense attorneys are taking a "very narrow" view of the court order.