WASHINGTON — A federal judge placed Roger J. Stone Jr. under a gag order on Thursday, ruling that his Instagram post of a photograph of her with cross hairs in the corner showed that he needed to be restrained from speaking and writing about his criminal case in interest of public safety.
Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the United States District Court in Washington angrily rejected Mr. Stone’s repeated apologies to her, saying that his explanations for his post were not credible. “Mr. Stone could not even keep his story straight on the stand, much less from one day to another,” she said, her voice dripping with sarcasm.
She warned Mr. Stone that any violation of the order would be grounds for her to revoke his bail.
Mr. Stone faces felony charges of obstruction of justice, witness tampering and making false statements in a case brought by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III. Prosecutors allege that Mr. Stone deceived the House Intelligence Committee about his efforts to contact WikiLeaks during the 2016 presidential election and that he tried to pressure another witness to lie to the committee.
The committee had been questioning Mr. Stone, a former Trump campaign adviser and longtime friend of Mr. Trump’s, about his efforts in late 2016 to find out what information WikiLeaks possessed that could prove damaging to Hillary Clinton’s campaign. WikiLeaks ultimately released tens of thousands of emails that Russian operatives had stolen from Democratic computers.
On Monday, Mr. Stone posted a photograph of the judge on Instagram with what appeared to be the cross hairs of a gun near her head. He suggested that the judge, who was appointed by President Barack Obama, could not fairly preside over his case.
Mr. Stone’s post came days after Judge Jackson had imposed a narrow gag order that barred Mr. Stone from making public statements on the courthouse steps that “pose a substantial likelihood of material prejudice to this case.” She had noted in that order that public pronouncements by those involved in Mr. Stone’s case could inflame crowds that have gathered outside the courthouse.
Mr. Stone’s Instagram post was deleted, but screenshots of it circulated rapidly on social media. In a hastily prepared court filing, Mr. Stone told the judge that the Instagram post was “improper.” He added, “I had no intention of disrespecting the Court and humbly apologize to the Court for the transgression.”
Publicly, Mr. Stone gave various explanations of why he posted an image of cross hairs. On Instagram, he said it was simply the logo of the website where he had found the photograph of the judge. He told The Washington Post that it was a “Celtic symbol.” To the conspiracy site Infowars, he described it as an “occult symbol.”
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