U.S. prosecutors on Thursday alleged that longtime Trump confidante Roger Stone has repeatedly violated a federal judge’s gag order after his recent social media posts attacking the FBI and Robert S. Mueller III’s special counsel probe.
Prosecutors asked U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson to demand that Stone explain why the court should not change the terms of his release as he awaits a November trial after postings on his Instagram account this week. The postings included photos of commentators referring to the “Russia Hoax” and claiming that Stone’s defense has exposed “the ‘intelligence community’s’ [sic] 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.”
Prosecutors led by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Kravis wrote that “Stone’s posts violate this Court’s order that Stone not comment ‘in the media or in public settings about the Special Counsel’s investigation or this case or any of the participants in the investigation or the case.’ ”
Stone has pleaded not guilty to charges of lying about his efforts to gather information about Democratic Party emails hacked and leaked by Russian operatives in 2016.
In a statement, Stone’s attorney Bruce Rogow called the government’s filing “ill-advised and an astonishing overreaching, saying, “we are disappointed in, and surprised by, the Government’s unrealized fears. Mr. Stone has limited his comments to matters widely reported in the news or public court filings.”
Jackson in February imposed a gag order after Stone, a longtime Republican operative and media commentator, posted an image on Instagram that appeared to show the judge’s photo near crosshairs and accused her and “Deep State hit man” Mueller of bias by arranging for her to preside over his “show trial.”
Jackson ordered Stone not to speak publicly about the investigation or case against him, saying he was “fanning the flames” and using his public platform “to incite others who may be less constrained.”
Jackson warned Stone that if he violated the order in any way, she would order him to jail.
At issue in Stone’s latest postings is his allegation that Mueller prosecutors in search warrants in his case relied on unproven assumptions that Russia was behind the hack of Democratic Party emails and their release to WikiLeaks and other groups.
His defense has asked the court to suppress evidence gathered through the searches in his trial on charges of lying to Congress and witness tampering connected to his efforts to gather information about the emails gathered in hacks on the Democratic National Committee and others.
Stone’s Instagram posts refer to his claim that prosecutors, in obtaining search warrants, improperly relied on redacted reports issued by CrowdStrike, the private cybersecurity firm hired by the DNC to investigate the June 2016 attack. He has said they should turn over unredacted versions of the reports because they could help his defense.
Jackson has not yet ruled on Stone’s requests.
In a separate court filing Thursday, U.S. prosecutors wrote that “Stone’s statement that the government has no other evidence is not only irrelevant to this proceeding but is also mistaken.” They pointed to the special counsel’s indictment of members of the GRU, a Russian military intelligence agency, in the hack on Democratic organizations and added that in Stone’s indictment the references to the firm’s statements about the DNC hack were made as background.
Prosecutors asked Jackson to set a hearing saying Stone’s posts “appear calculated” to generate news coverage that could influence potential jurors.
Stone’s defense is expected to respond in court.