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No-Nonsense Judge Pummels Roger Stone as ‘Motion to Clarify’ Gag Order Falls Very, Very Flat


The no-nonsense judge in Roger Stone‘s criminal case has responded to the “motion to clarify” submitted by Stone’s legal team on Monday, which came on the heels of the special counsel alerting the judge to some Instagram and book publication activity that appeared to be in violation of a gag order.

As Law&Crime reported on Monday, special counsel Robert Mueller directed the court’s attention to Stone’s Instagram account where he recently “shared an image with the title ‘who framed Roger Stone.’” The image was posted Instagram on Sunday and disappeared as Instagram stories do after 24 hours.

The judge also took issue with a book written by Stone, The Myth of Russian Collusion, which is slated for re-release and contains a new introduction. In the book, Stone refers to Mueller as “crooked.” The book was initially titled The Making of the President 2016 when released in 2017. Stone’s attorneys filed a redacted clarification with the court explaining that Stone’s new introduction was authored in January of this year–well before Stone was slapped with the gag order in his ongoing criminal case.

Judge Amy Berman Jackson didn’t care that the book was authored before the Feb. 21 gag order was issued.

“Defendant’s Motion for Clarification will be denied because the order issued on February 21, 2019 is clear,” she said. “On March 1, defendant asked the Court to ‘clarify’ that its order does not apply to what was described in the motion as the ‘imminent’ re-release of a book defendant published in 2017, which had been augmented in January of 2019 with a new introduction that is critical of the ongoing investigation by the Office of Special Counsel.”

“On March 4, without providing any explanation for the misrepresentation in the motion, defendant informed the Court that the use of the word ‘imminent’ had been a ‘misnomer’ because the book is already for sale,” Jackson continued. “In either event, there is no question that the order prohibited and continues to prohibit the defendant from making any public statements, using any medium, concerning the investigation. It does not matter when the defendant may have first formulated the opinions expressed, or when he first put them into words: he may no longer share his views on these particular subjects with the world.”

Judge Jackson emphasized that Roger Stone’s own actions have put him in this position.

“The fact that the order exists at all is entirely the fault of the defendant; the Court did not impose any restrictions on his speech whatsoever until, as he put it, he ‘abused the latitude’ the Court gave him, and he used his public platform in an incendiary and threatening manner,” she said. “And any costs or consequences that will be occasioned by the Court’s reiteration of this clear requirement at this late date are also solely attributable to the defendant, since he deliberately waited until public sales were not only ‘imminent,’ but apparently, ongoing, to inform the Court of the publication effort that had been underway for weeks.”

That’s not good news.

Nor was it good news that the judge said she had made herself abundantly clear — and yet, here we are.

“Since the order, which was endorsed by the defense, does not require clarification, and the proposed clarification is not consistent with the order itself, the motion for clarification is hereby DENIED,” she added. Keep in mind that Judge Jackson has reminded Stone that this is not baseball and the rules are two strikes and you’re jailed.

Judge Jackson also ordered Stone and his lawyers to file a status report by March 11 “detailing his efforts to come into compliance with the Court’s rulings and supplement the record with the information as set forth in the order.”

Former federal prosecutor Elie Honig told Law&Crime ahead of today’s response from the judge that Stone was “already on thin ice and now he’s tapping on it with a ballpeen hammer.”

“Clearly the introduction of this book is going to violate the new, upgraded gag order, so his lawyers are scrambling to tell the judge it was written before the order came down,” Honig said. “The judge should tell them, essentially, that’s fine, I don’t really care when you wrote it but if and when it does come out, it if violates my order, you’re going in. (And by the way – you probably should have mentioned to me when I issued the new order that you had already written something that violated it).”

That’s basically what happened on Tuesday. You can read the filing for yourself below.

Judge Amy Berman Jackson Responds to Roger Stone by Law&Crime on Scribd

Colin Kalmbacher contributed to this report.

[Image via Alex Wong/Getty Images]

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Matt Naham is the Senior A.M. Editor of Law&Crime.