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Roger Stone’s Instagram post leads federal judge to impose gag order

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The federal judge overseeing the case of Trump advisor and ally Roger Stone barred him from publicly discussing any aspect of his ongoing legal case following his uploading a post to his Instagram account that appeared to threaten her.

On Monday, Stone’s Instagram account posted a photo, which has since been deleted, of Judge Amy Berman Jackson’s face over what appeared to be cross-hairs, the caption attacking her as an “Obama-appointed” judge who “dismissed” charges against Hillary Clinton and for revoking the bond of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort in a separate case she oversaw.

After testimony from Stone, Jackson said he had “promptly abused” the liberties he was afforded in his initial media contact order, which allowed him to discuss his case everywhere expect courthouse steps.

Jackson had previously placed a partial gag order on Stone and his lawyers to prevent biasing potential jurors.

The order prohibited Stone’s lawyers “from making statements to the media or in public settings that pose a substantial likelihood of material prejudice.”

Now, Stone is allowed to raise money for his legal defense fund but cannot make any public statements about his own case or any participants in it.

While the Instagram post did not technically violate the parameters of the initial gag order, the shocking and unprecedented nature of a defendant degrading and appearing to threaten the judge in his own case caused Jackson to order Stone and his lawyers back into court to re-evaluate the order.

The special counsel Robert Mueller’s office indicted Stone in January on one count of obstruction of justice, five counts of making false statements to the FBI and congressional investigators, and one count of witness tampering in connection with his contacts with people linked to the radical pro-transparency group WikiLeaks.

Stone, a longtime ally of President Donald Trump and early informal campaign adviser, pleaded not guilty to all seven counts. He also emphasized that he would not testify against Trump.

Read more: Mueller indicts former Trump campaign adviser Roger Stone on charges of obstruction, false statements, and witness tampering

In Thursday’s hearing, Stone took responsibility for posting the incendiary message and expressed remorse, attributing his “lapse in judgment” to “extreme stress” over his case and paying his legal bills.

“I am kicking myself for my own stupidity, but not more than my wife is kicking me,” Stone said on the witness stand. “This was an egregious, stupid error for which I apologize to the court.”

Stone maintained, however, that one of the “volunteers” who help him run his social media accounts picked out the photo, and he believed at the time that the background contained Celtic crosses or perhaps an Occult symbol instead of crosshairs, according to BuzzFeed News’ Zoe Tillman.

Jonathan Kravis, one of the federal prosecutors involved in prosecuting Stone’s case, asked Judge Berman Jackson for a tighter gag order on both Stone and his lawyers after cross-examining Stone.

Kravis argued that Stone’s apology was “not credible,” given the fact that a Facebook page belonging to Stone continued to share articles from right-wing websites Infowars and the Gateway Pundit which called accusations that the photo of Berman Jackson contained crosshairs “a hoax.”

The former GOP consultant also did a live interview on Infowars during which he repeated some of the claims against Berman Jackson expressed in the Instagram post.

Stone’s lawyers agreed that their client’s conduct on social media was “indefensible,” but asked for no changes to the existing media contact order.

Jackson emphasized that Stone’s current bond will be revoked and he will be jailed if he violates his new, stricter gag order.

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