Judge Tightens Stone Gag Order After His 'Crosshairs' Smear

A federal judge on Thursday forbade former Trump advisor Roger Stone from publicly discussing his pending obstruction of justice case after she told him that she did not believe his amy berman jackson roger stoneexplanation of why he broadcast on Monday a photo of her with "crosshairs" next to her head.

Stone, a longtime GOP political operative, used the social media channel Instagram to distribute the photo (shown at right) along with text implying that his judge was politically biased.

The message also denounced Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller's probe, which had resulted in Stone's indictment on seven felony charges in January relating to release of hacked Democratic emails that helped the 2016 Trump presidential campaign. 

Presiding in a courthouse in downtown Washington, DC, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson told Stone that she was giving him one last chance to comply with her obligation on federal bail law to protect public safety and fair trial rights. She warned that she would jail him pre-trial if he violates again the conditions of his release on a $250,000 bond.

The judge also forbade Stone from commenting on the case through intermediaries, including friends or "volunteers" who support him in his denunciation of the Mueller probe. Stone has used such allies as InfoWars host Alex Jones and the ultra-nationalist Proud Boys.

Berman's ruling came during a tense hearing in front of a packed courtroom that included Stone's wife, Nydia, and daughter, Adria, both residents of Florida.

Afterward, two strong supporters of Stone and Trump in attendance privately described to this reporter their sense that the judge's ruling was fair Roger Stoneto Stone — and that he was very fortunate to escape bond revocation given the overall circumstances, including the judge's expressed disbelief at some of Stone's explanations for his behavior.

Stone and his attorneys took the unusual step for a defendant in putting him under oath pre-trial to testify about his behavior.

Stone repeatedly apologized and explained that his actions stemmed from his stress and contributions by supporters, whom he said he could not identify for the most part. Also, he said that he did not regard the cross as an image of a rifle crosshair but instead, to the extent he has thought about it, as an Celtic or occult symbol.

“Thank you, but the apology rings quite hollow,” said the judge at one point, "I don’t find any of the evolving and contradictory explanations credible.”

Public Safety Threats

amy berman jacksonThe judge, shown at right in her official photo, questioned Stone on the witness stand, several times showing an impressive ability to read through her notes of his testimony and quote back to him what she described as inconsistencies. In a previous ruling, the judge had permitted Stone to continue his career as a commentator, except in the vicinity of the courthouse.

Stone maintains that he needs to comment on the case and public affairs in general as part of his media business and to prevent unfairness during his prosecution.

The text of Stone's Instagram message stated:

“Through legal trickery Deep State hitman Robert Mueller has guaranteed that my upcoming show trial is before Judge Amy Berman Jackson, an Obama appointed Judge who dismissed the Benghazi charges again [sic] Hillary Clinton and incarcerated Paul Manafort prior to his conviction for any crime.”

Stone's message on Monday proceeded from the text above to ask for donations for his defense fund. Jackson and a federal prosecutor pressed Stone several times on who precisely worked with him as a volunteer at his home this week.

As reported by Miami New Times:

In court today, Stone apologized profusely for his actions. Then he admitted something that most observers had expected for quite a while: He's working closely with various enrique tarrio stone facebookmembers of the Florida chapter of the Proud Boys, the hard-right, pro-Trump, semifascist group with numerous ties to harder-core white-supremacist organizations.

According to multiple reporters in the courtroom today, Stone has admitted he's coordinating extensively with the group. Stone even said that Jacob Engels — a notorious alt-right InfoWars reporter and all but admitted member of the Proud Boys — has access to Stone's cell phone and social media accounts.

Stone is shown in a Facebook photo with Enrique Tarrio, the Miami Proud Boy who has become chairman of the national group and who was seated behind President Trump at a rally this week.

Beyond her disbelief in Stone's courtroom comments, Jackson alluded also to the threat to public safety represented by smears of public officials in the context of news reports on Feb. 21 regarding the arrest of an alleged Maryland neo-Nazi, Christopher Hasson.

Federal authorities accused Hasson, a career military employee most recently serving with the U.S. Coast Guard, of plotting to kill officials and reporters in a mass slaughter of those he considered to be enemies of Trump. Details were reported in a Raw Story article, Judge links Roger Stone to foiled white supremacist terrorist in blistering courtroom dressing-down, and Washington Post article, ‘I am dreaming of a way to kill almost every last person on earth’: A self-proclaimed white nationalist planned a mass terrorist attack, the government says. 

She noted that federal law on bail bond requires her to protect the public from dangers from defendants released on bond pre-trial. Stone's indictment last month includes an allegation that he threated his one time friend, radio host Randy Credico, and Credico's service dog.

Stone has become a radio host on the Alex Jones radio show InfoWars, which promotes fear-mongering political propaganda. One prominent theme is that a so-called Deep State is unfairly targeting Trump, his appointees and supporters, thus damaging the United States. 

paul manafort mug

As further context, investigative reporter Wayne Madsen published a column Thursday, Stone's threatening federal judge no laughing matter. It reported that since 1979 "four federal judges have been assassinated and the disabled husband and mother of another judge were murdered in an unsuccessful targeted assassination of the judge."

Madsen is a former Navy intelligence officer and NSA analyst who frequently appeared in years past on InfoWars show to describe his investigative projects. But Madsen in recent years is describing InfoWars as a pro-Trump propaganda operation riling up the public with baseless memes and ignoring the dangers posed by financial and intelligence ties between Trump and mob-affiliated global criminals.

Madsen's column on Feb. 21 before the Stone hearing noted also that a little-reported security threat had forced the recusal in 2007 of U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler from a high-profile political case in Washington, presiding over the prostitution case of Deborah Jeane Palfrey, the so-called "DC Madam." Palfrey gave Madsen and two other reporters her phone records of some 20,000 prostitution client calls. This was part of the former madam's unsuccessful effort to defend herself in court by demanding that male customers, some affiliated with intelligence operations or more publicly prominent as high officials, be called to testify, not simply the female prostitutes.

Kessler had shown some sympathy in pre-trial discussions with Palfrey's argument. Kessler's successor ruled otherwise. Palfrey was convicted and later found dead by hanging, listed as a suicide.

Madsen's Feb. 21 column noted also the suspect in the shooting death of five journalists last year at the Capital Gazette, a newspaper in Maryland's state capital of Annapolis was a Trump supporter whose hatred of the media appeared to stem in part from the national campaign by Trump and his supporters to demonize journalists.  .

Among other relevant considerations, the judge noted, were her obligation under the law to ensure a fair trial under relevant law by preventing advocacy by the parties outside of court.

Shown below are excerpts from news about Stone' case and related ones, including the overalll Mueller probe and the federal prosecution of Paul Manafort (shown in a mug shot), former Trump campaign manager and a business partner of a Stone duing the 1980s.

Jackson, who presides also over the Manafort case, last fall revoked Manafort's bond after authorities alleged that he had violated the terms of his probation by witness tampering and lying after he had pleaded guilty to numerous charges of tax evasion, obstruction of justice and other crimes. 

On Feb. 13, Jackson ruled that Manafort, 69, lied to prosecutors about matters described by the Washington Post as "close to the heart of their investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election."


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Related Stone News Coverage

March 4

Roger Stone Gag Order

TPM, Roger Stone’s Request About His Book That Ticked Off His Judge, Tierney Sneed, March 4, 2019. Roger Stone wants to know if a book he wrote, which has recently been retitled ““The Myth of Russian Collusion,” will get him in trouble under the gag order in his case, a court filing posted Monday revealed.

roger stone who framed roger stone coverThe filing is the redacted version of a request Stone previously made under seal in his case, in which he asked U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson how the book, which was re-published under the new title last month, squares with the gag order she imposed in the case.

In a new introduction to the book, Stone suggested that special counsel Robert Mueller was going to “frame” him on “bogus” charges in order to “silence me or induce me to testify against the president.” He also accuses the Obama administration of spying on and infiltrating the Trump campaign and then fabricating the “Russian collusion myth” to distract from their own misdeeds.

The judge has already signaled her annoyance at Stone for not raising this issue sooner. On Friday, while the original request was still under seal, she issued an order demanding that he explain why he didn’t bring the book to her attention at the hearing where she imposed the gag order banning him from commenting on his case or on special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation more broadly.

According Stone’s filing, the book was re-released on Feb. 19, after Stone had the month prior apparently submitted an updated introduction to be included in the new edition. Mentions of the introduction appear to be redacted in Stone’s filing. However, prosecutors on Monday filed their own notice that said an “updated Introduction” was what was referenced in Stone’s request.

The explanation the judge demanded from Stone is expected to be filed on Monday as well.

The judge, as part of Stone’s conditions of release, banned him from commenting about his case after he posted an inflammatory photo and caption about her on his Instagram. The image included a cross-hairs sign over her shoulder.

When Berman Jackson announced the gag order she went through several examples of public commentary Stone would no longer be allowed make, carving out exceptions only for the promotion of his legal defense fund and for declarations of his innocence.

Minutes after the Stone filing was posted publicly to the docket Monday, prosecutors filed a notice of their own that included under seal screenshots of an online preview of the book that include the updated introduction. The prosecutors also filed under seal a screenshot from an image posted to Roger Stone’s Instagram account (and later taken down) with his photo under the banner “who framed Roger Stone.”

Variety, Prosecutors Alert Judge of Roger Stone Instagram Post Amid Gag Order, Ted Johnson, March 4, 2019. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s legal team alerted Judge Amy Berman Jackson of an image briefly posted to Roger Stone’s Instagram with the title “who framed Roger Stone.”

Under the terms of a gag order put in place last month, Stone and his associates are prohibited from talking about the case and Mueller’s Russia investigation.

In a filing on Monday, prosecutors cited a report from CNBC that was part of a multi-image post. The “who framed Roger Stone” title, a play on the movie “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” was then deleted. The posts were designed to help Stone raise money for his legal defense fund.

Jackson has yet to weigh in on the image. She imposed the gag order after Stone posted an image of her on his Instagram page. In the background was a symbol that looked like a rifle scope.

Feb. 27

Palmer Report, Opinion: Roger Stone just blew it royally over Michael Cohen’s testimony, Bill Palmer, Feb. 27, 2019. Last night the media got its hands on an advance copy of Michael Cohen’s prepared opening statement for his public testimony to the House Oversight Committee. In the statement, Cohen claimed that he witnessed Donald Trump and Roger Stone discussing Stone’s criminal conspiracy with WikiLeaks. Palmer Report predicted that Stone wouldn’t be able to help himself and would end up violating his gag order today. Sure enough, he has.

bill palmer report logo headerRoger Stone told BuzzFeed this morning that “Mr. Cohen’s statement is not true.” That sound harmless enough, right? But Judge Amy Berman Jackson told Stone last week that he was prohibited from discussing any aspect of his criminal case, and that’s precisely what Stone just did. So now what?

Judge Jackson can revoke Roger Stone’s bail at any time, based solely on her own discretion as to whether she feels he’s violated the gag order. Robert Mueller can also ask Judge Jackson at any time to consider revoking Stone’s bail. At this point the only reason for Mueller not to do that would be if he’d rather Stone remain out there, further incriminating himself, so it can be used against him at trial. It’s a similar strategy to what ultimately sunk Paul Manafort.

In the meantime, Roger Stone appears to be rapidly losing his ability to bite his tongue. In addition to his statement to BuzzFeed this morning, Stone also went on Instagram last night and called CNN’s Don Lemon a “maggot” and a “demon” in response to Lemon’s reporting on Stone’s scandals.

Feb. 25

Roger Stone and

Longtime Republican political operative and consultant Roger Stone published "The Making of the President 2016" recounting his decades of friendship with Donald Trump.

washington post logoWashington Post, This courthouse is the closest you can get to Mueller’s probe, one wall away from its secrets, Avi Selk, Feb. 25, 2019. The line to see Roger Stone get gagged stretched from the courtroom door all the way down the marbled hall on Thursday — 100 people deep, with yet more holding placards and TV camera tripods and their respective ideological convictions on the sidewalks outside the E. Barrett Prettyman Federal Courthouse, a few blocks from the Capitol.

Of course, the people didn’t yet know that Stone would be gagged at the end of the hearing — barred from publicly discussing his upcoming trial on charges of lying, witness tampering and obstruction in the criminal investigation of President Trump’s inner circle. Rather, some of those in line thought Trump’s longtime friend might be sent straight to jail, his bail revoked for allegedly attacking the judge on Instagram last week. Or perhaps Stone would make a scene, as when he flashed Nixonian victory signs at previous hearings this year.

And then there were rumors that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation was nearing its end, and so this might be the last public hearing before Trump himself is implicated in the final report. Or exonerated. No one knew.

“For many good-government people, this is the ultimate constitutional crisis,” said Andrew Kreig, squashed into a third-row pew at Stone’s hearing Thursday, describing the hyperbole on each side.“The alternative view is it’s overthrowing the duly elected president. It’s hard to imagine a more dramatic situation.”

Kreig, who edits a website titled Justice Integrity Project and once wrote a book about how “secretive elites guide our government leaders,” figured this was about the 12th hearing he had attended in the Mueller investigation, including former national security director Michael Flynn’s chaotic sentencing hearing in December and Manafort’s first trial in Virginia (during which, he recalled, another loyal spectator managed to knit an entire blanket).

Feb. 21

Miami New Times, Roger Stone Admits Extensive Ties to Extremist Group Florida Proud Boys in Court, Jerry Iannelli and Meg O'Connor, Feb. 21, 2019. Roger Stone today is sitting in a D.C. federal court begging a judge not to crack down on him for being, well, Roger Stone. The Fort Lauderdale resident was arrested last month as part of Robert Mueller's investigation into alleged ties between the Trump administration and Russian hackers.

After he was released on bail, Stone last week posted a photo on social media of the judge in his case, Amy Berman Jackson, next to an image of gun crosshairs. Whether intentional or not, the image seemed to be encouraging Stone's followers to shoot the judge.

In court today, Stone apologized profusely for his actions. Then he admitted something that most observers had expected for quite a while: He's working closely with various members of the Florida chapter of the Proud Boys, the hard-right, pro-Trump, semifascist group with numerous ties to harder-core white-supremacist organizations.

According to multiple reporters in the courtroom today, Stone has admitted he's coordinating extensively with the group. Stone even said that Jacob Engels — a notorious alt-right InfoWars reporter and all but admitted member of the Proud Boys — has access to Stone's cell phone and social media accounts.

enrique tarrio stone facebookStone was asked in court today how he obtained the photo of Judge Jackson. He told the court he had been "sent" a series of images by multiple volunteers. He then named a few: Engels, Florida Proud Boys chapter founder Tyler Ziolkowski (who goes by “Tyler Whyte”), and Enrique Tarrio, the Miami Proud Boy who has become chairman of the national group. (Tarrio was caught on camera this week sitting behind Donald Trump during the president's Monday rally at Florida International University.)

Stone did not say which volunteer sent him the image he posted online, but he admitted Engels and Tarrio have spent a good deal of time at his house.

Neither Engels nor Whyte responded to messages from New Times today. Reached by phone, Tarrio denied posting the image of Jackson but defended whoever did.

From Dan Friedman: Jacob Engels, who Stone says had access to his phone on the day of the Instagram post, and was with him in court today, won’t say if he selected the photo. “You can ask me different ways, but I’m not gonna answer,” Engels said, after I asked if he is willing to take responsibly for the photo. Stone says one of 5 or 6 volunteers who assist him with social media found the picture, but he claimed he didn’t know which one.

washington post logoWashington Post, Judge bars Roger Stone from speaking about criminal case, Rachel Weiner and Manuel Roig-Franzia, Feb. 21, 2019. A federal judge on Thursday ordered that longtime Republican operative and Trump confidant Roger Stone may not speak publicly about the investigation or case against him.

Judge Amy Berman Jackson in Washington said it would be “foolhardy” to wait for Stone to transgress again in the wake of an Instagram post that appeared to show her photo near crosshairs. The post suggested both she and special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, whose office brought the case against Stone, were biased.

“I’m not giving you another chance,” Jackson told Stone. “I have serious doubts whether you’ve learned any lesson at all.”

If he violates the order in any way, Jackson warned that she would order him to jail.

The judge, who sounded flabbergasted by Stone’s explanations, rejected his claim that the image was not meant to be threatening.

Stone took the stand during the hearing to apologize for the post and ask that he be allowed to keep talking about his upcoming trial. He is accused of trying to cover up his efforts to gather information concerning hacked Democratic Party emails during the 2016 campaign.

“I’m sorry that I abused your trust,” Stone told Jackson. “I’m heartfully sorry. . . . I can only beseech you to give me a second chance.”

Raw Story, Judge links Roger Stone to foiled white supremacist terrorist in blistering courtroom dressing-down, Noor Al-Sibai, Feb. 21, 2019. The judge presiding over Trump confidante Roger Stone’s case dressed him down for posting a photo of her with a thinly-veiled threat — and referenced a would-be domestic terrorist while doing so. During the hearing about Stone’s Instagram post that featured U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson with a crosshair symbol placed near her, the judge in question was solemn in her condemnation of the imagery.

As Vox’s senior political correspondent Andrew Prokop noted on Twitter during the hearing, Jackson alluded to Christopher Hasson, the separated Coast Guard lieutenant and accused white supremacist who was foiled Wednesday before undertaking acts of domestic terrorism.

The judge, Prokop tweeted, said that “you don’t even have to look at the papers beyond today” to see the real threat inciting violence poses.

“Roger Stone fully understands the power of words and the power of symbols,” Jackson added. “And there’s nothing ambiguous about crosshairs.”

Hasson also faced a judge on Thursday and was ordered to be held in police custody for up to two weeks while prosecutors sift through the cache of evidence taken from his Maryland apartment, including reported hit lists and manifestos claiming he wanted to “kill almost every last person on the earth.” Prosecutors may bring additional charges related to his alleged terror plot.

He was indicted in January on charges of obstructing justice, lying and witness tampering in what prosecutors said was an effort to hide repeated attempts to get information about plans to release the hacked Democratic emails.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Roger Stone may have screwed up and violated the judge’s new gag order already, Bill Palmer, Feb. 21, 2019. Judge Jackson specifically stated that Roger Stone is not allowed to publicly “speak” about the case through his surrogates. In other words, he can’t have a conversation about the case with his friend, with the understanding bill palmer report logo headerthat the friend will then relay Stone’s thoughts on social media.

But in the hours since her ruling, some of Stone’s friends and associates have indeed been tweeting in ways that at least vaguely appear to be on Stone’s behalf.

Mass Murder Plot?


christopher hasson faceboook us attorney

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘I am dreaming of a way to kill almost every last person on earth’: A self-proclaimed white nationalist planned a mass terrorist attack, the government says, Lynh Bui, Feb. 21, 2019 (print edition). A U.S. Coast Guard lieutenant and self-identified white nationalist was arrested after federal investigators uncovered a cache of weapons and ammunition in his Maryland home that authorities say he stockpiled to launch a widespread domestic terrorist attack targeting politicians and journalists.

Christopher Paul Hasson called for “focused violence” to “establish a white homeland” and dreamed of ways to “kill almost every last person on earth,” according to court records filed in U.S. District Court in Maryland.

nancy pelosi twitterThough court documents do not detail a specific planned date for an attack, the government said he had been amassing supplies and weapons since at least 2017, developed a spreadsheet of targets that included House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and searched the Internet using phrases such as “best place in dc to see congress people” and “are supreme court justices protected.”

robert mueller screenshot washington post

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: The Mueller Report Is Coming. Here’s What to Expect, Neal K. Katyal (right, acting solicitor general under President Barack Obama). Feb. 21, 2019. It will probably act as neal katyal oa “road map” to investigation for the Democratic House — and to the work of other prosecutors. The report is unlikely to be a dictionary-thick tome, which will disappoint some observers. But such brevity is not necessarily good news for the president. In fact, quite the opposite.

For months, the president’s lawyers have tried to discredit Mr. Mueller (shown above in a file photo) and this report, but their efforts may have backfired. A concise Mueller report might act as a “road map” to investigation for the Democratic House of Representatives — and it might also lead to further criminal investigation by other prosecutors. A short Mueller report would mark the end of the beginning, not the beginning of the end.

The report is unlikely to be lengthy by design: The special counsel regulations, which I had the privilege of drafting in 1999, envision a report that is concise, “a summary” of what he found. And Mr. Mueller’s mandate is limited: to look into criminal activity and counterintelligence matters surrounding Russia and the 2016 election, as well as any obstruction of justice relating to those investigations.

Donald TrumpThe report is unlikely to be lengthy by design: The special counsel regulations, which I had the privilege of drafting in 1999, envision a report that is concise, “a summary” of what he found. And Mr. Mueller’s mandate is limited: to look into criminal activity and counterintelligence matters surrounding Russia and the 2016 election, as well as any obstruction of justice relating to those investigations.

The regulations require the attorney general to give Congress a report, too. The regulations speak of the need for public confidence in the administration of justice and even have a provision for public release of the attorney general’s report. In a world where Mr. Mueller was the only investigator, the pressure for a comprehensive report to the public would be overwhelming.

This is where the “witch hunt” attacks on Mr. Mueller may have backfired. For 19 months, Mr. Trump and his team have had one target to shoot at, and that target has had limited jurisdiction. But now the investigation resembles the architecture of the internet, with many different nodes, and some of those nodes possess potentially unlimited jurisdiction.

Feb. 20

Mueller Report

robert mueller full face fileReuters, Justice Department preparing to receive Mueller report: CNN, Tim Ahmann and Susan Heavey, Feb. 20, 2019. The U.S. Department of Justice may announce as early as next week that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has given the attorney general his report on the federal Russia investigation, CNN said on Wednesday, citing unnamed sources.

washington post logoWashington Post, Justice Department preparing for Mueller report in coming days, Devlin Barrett, Josh Dawsey and Matt Zapotosky​, Feb. 20, 2019. Justice Department officials are preparing for the end of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s nearly two-year investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and believe a confidential report could be issued in coming days, according to people familiar with the discussions.

The special counsel’s investigation has consumed Washington since it began in May 2017, and it increasingly appears to be nearing its end, which would send fresh shock waves through the political system. Mueller could deliver his report to Attorney General William P. Barr next week, according to a person familiar with the matter who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive deliberations.

Regulations call for Mueller to submit to the attorney general a confidential explanation as to why he decided to charge certain individuals, as well as who else he investigated and why he decided not to charge those people. The regulations then call for the attorney general to report to Congress about the investigation.

Stone Faces Sanction

amy berman jackson roger stone

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Commentary: Stone's threatening federal judge no laughing matter, Wayne Madsen (WMR editor, author of 16 books and former Navy intelligence wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallofficer, shown in a Justice Integrity Project photo during a 2015 panel discussion), Feb. 20, 2019 (subscription required; excerpted with permission). Longtime Donald Trump adviser and political dirty trickster Roger Stone may have finally pulled off his last stunt.

After Stone's U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia trial judge, Amy Berman-Jackson, imposed a limited gag order on Stone -- ordering him not to discuss around the court house the case brought against him by Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller -- Stone posted a social media message widely construed as a threat against Jackson.

Although Stone deleted the threatening message and issued a formal apology to the judge through his attorneys, the federal judiciary and the U.S. Marshals Service, responsible for protecting judges, do not take kindly to threats. Since 1979, four federal judges have been assassinated and the disabled husband and mother of another judge were murdered in an unsuccessful targeted assassination of the judge.

Feb. 18

Stone Puts His Judge In 'Crosshairs'

Raw Story, Roger Stone lashes out at federal judge with threatening picture of her next to crosshairs, Eric W. Dolan, Feb. 18, 2019. Trump’s longtime confidant Roger Stone on Monday attacked the federal judge presiding over his criminal case in the special counsel’s Russia probe. In an Instagram post, Stone lashed out at U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson.

The Guardian’s Jon Swaine noted that the picture Stone posted on Instagram (shown at right) placed crosshairs next to Jackson’s head.

Last week, Jackson prohibited Stone from commenting on the case near the Washington, D.C., courthouse. But he remains otherwise free to discuss his situation. However, Jackson has warned that she could amend the limited gag order in the future if necessary.

“This is completely out of bounds. The cross hairs will likely lead prosecutors to ask for revocation of his pre-trial release. At best, this is a cheap stunt designed to get the judge to recuse, at worst, an outright threat,” former U.S. attorney Joyce Vance said.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Roger Stone and Donald Trump both just went off a cliff, Bill Palmer, Feb. 18, 2019. There’s a popular and arguably overused meme on social media in which one public figure says or does something incredibly stupid, and then another public figure says “Hold my beer” before doing something even more incredibly stupid. I can’t recall an instance of that meme fitting any situation better than when it came to Donald Trump and Roger Stone today.

bill palmer report logo headerDonald Trump woke up this morning and decided that his best move was to threaten “retribution” against Alec Baldwin over his Saturday Night Live portrayals. This went over about as well as one might have expected. Trump was condemned for it from all sides, as he managed to come off as both weak and dangerously out of control. Baldwin, never one to back down, will surely respond by portraying Trump on SNL more frequently. It was a disaster for Trump.

But then Roger Stone had his “Hold my beer” moment.

There has long been debate among observers as to whether Roger Stone would cut a plea deal at the first sign of real trouble, or if he would try to stick to his guns as long as possible.

But we’re in a different realm now. Stone is about to go sit in solitary confinement in jail, in the same comparatively rough conditions Paul Manafort has been facing. Anyone get a good look at Manafort lately? By all accounts, he’s practically dead already. Stone is a lunatic, but even he may decide he simply can’t suffer the same fate as his pal Manafort.

Feb. 16

Guardian, Roger Stone: Mueller Discloses Evidence Trump Adviser Communicated With WikiLeaks, Feb. 16, 2019. Stone says evidence is ‘innocuous Twitter direct messages’ that prove ‘absolutely nothing.’ The US special counsel, Robert Mueller, disclosed for the first time on Friday that his office has evidence of communications between Roger Stone and WikiLeaks related to the release of hacked Democratic party emails.

robert mueller full face fileIn a court filing on Friday, Mueller’s office said it had gathered that evidence in a separate inquiry into Russian intelligence officers who were charged by Mueller with hacking the emails during the 2016 US presidential campaign and staging their release.

In an email criticising media coverage of Mueller’s filing on Friday, Stone, a longtime associate of Donald Trump, said the evidence was “innocuous Twitter direct messages” that have already been disclosed to the House Intelligence Committee and “prove absolutely nothing”.

Also on Friday, a federal judge placed some limits on what Stone and his lawyers can say publicly about his criminal case brought by the special counsel in the Russia investigation.

amy berman jacksonBut the US district judge, Amy Berman Jackson (left), stopped short of imposing a broad ban on public comments by the outspoken political operative, issuing a limited gag order she said was necessary to ensure Stone’s right to a fair trial and “to maintain the dignity and seriousness of the courthouse and these proceedings”.

Stone was indicted last month for lying to Congress about his communications with others about the hacked emails. Mueller did not say at the time that he had evidence of communications with WikiLeaks. Stone, an ally of Trump for 40 years, has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Stone has previously acknowledged brief exchanges with WikiLeaks and Guccifer 2.0 but maintains he never had advance knowledge about the release of hacked emails.

But Friday marked the first time Mueller indicated he had obtained related evidence, although it remained unclear if the evidence is more substantial than what is publicly known.

Feb. 13

Trump Probes

paul manafort rnc 2016 abc flickr

Former Trump Presidential Campaign Manager Paul Manafort In 2016 (file photo from ABC-TV)

washington post logoWashington Post, Federal judge finds Paul Manafort lied to Mueller probe about contacts with Russian aide, Spencer S. Hsu, Feb. 13, 2019. Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort lied to prosecutors with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III about matters close to the heart of their investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.

paul manafort mugThe judge’s finding that Manafort, 69 (shown in a mug shot), breached his cooperation deal with prosecutors by lying after his guilty plea could add years to his prison sentence and came after a set of sealed court hearings.

amy berman jacksonManafort’s lies, the judge found, included “his interactions and communications with [Konstantin] Kilimnik,” a longtime aide whom the FBI assessed to have ties to Russian intelligence.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the District (shown at left) said Manafort also lied to the special counsel, the FBI and the grand jury about a payment from a company to a law firm — which he previously characterized as a loan repayment — and made false statements that were material to another Justice Department investigation whose focus has not been described in public filings in Manafort’s case.

Palmer Report, Commentary: It's official -- Robert Mueller has destroyed Paul Manafort once and for all, Bill Palmer, Feb. 13, 2019. Paul Manafort gambled that he could cut a robert mueller kit fox medill flickr croppedcooperating plea deal with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, feed him false information, coordinate it all with Donald Trump, and not get caught. Manafort quickly lost that gamble, and as of this evening, he’s paying for it with everything he has.

Mueller (right) announced awhile back that he was ripping up Paul Manafort’s plea deal, citing Manafort’s bad faith actions. Of course this requires the approval of a judge, and so the two found themselves back in front of Federal Judge Amy Berman Jackson. She ruled this evening that Manafort intentionally lied to Mueller about multiple matters. This is a big deal for two reasons, and one of them is very bad news for Donald Trump.

bill palmer report logo headerFirst, this means that Paul Manafort’s life is effectively over. His plea deal was his one chance at possibly getting out of prison before the end of his natural lifespan. Now that he’s officially been faulted for the demise of his plea deal, he’ll be in prison forever. Donald Trump has already made clear that he’s not willing to take the risk of sticking his neck out to pardon people like Manafort. Even if he were to try, Manafort would still rot, thanks to state-level charges in New York.

Second, this further weakens Donald Trump’s “no collusion” fantasy. Robert Mueller accused Paul Manafort of lying about his interactions with Russian spy Konstantin Kilimnik, and sure enough, the judge says she agrees. That means Trump’s campaign chairman is going to prison partly for colluding with the Kremlin during the 2016 election. That’s on top of Donald Trump Jr’s emails, Roger Stone’s emails, and other hard proof of an illegal conspiracy between Russia and Team Trump to rig the 2016 election.

washington post logoWashington Post, How Manafort’s 2016 meeting with Russian goes to ‘heart’ of Mueller’s probe, Rosalind S. Helderman and Tom Hamburger, Feb. 13, 2019. In a sealed court hearing last week, prosecutors revealed they are deeply focused on a dinner Paul Manafort had at the Grand Havana Club with Russian political operative Konstantin Kilimnik.

The 2016 nominating conventions had recently concluded and the presidential race was hitting a new level of intensity when Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s campaign chairman, ducked into an unusual dinner meeting at a private cigar room a few blocks away from the campaign’s Trump Tower headquarters in Manhattan.

rnc logoCourt records show that Manafort was joined at some point by his campaign deputy, Rick Gates, at the session at the Grand Havana Room, a mahogany-paneled space with floor-to-ceiling windows offering panoramic views of the city.

The two Americans met with an overseas guest, a longtime employee of their international consulting business who had flown to the United States for the gathering: a Russian political operative named Konstantin Kilimnik.

The Aug. 2, 2016, encounter between the senior Trump campaign officials and Kilimnik, who prosecutors allege has ties to Russian intelligence, has emerged in recent days as a potential fulcrum in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation.

Mueller Probe

President Trump, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak, right in a White House meeting on May 10, 2017 from which American reporters were barred (TASS Photo)

President Trump, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak, right in a White House meeting on May 10, 2017 from which American reporters were barred (Photo by Russian agency TASS)

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump and His Associates Had More Than 100 Contacts With Russians Before the Inauguration, Karen Yourish and Larry Buchanan, Jan. 26, 2019 (print edition). Donald J. Trump and at least 17 of his associates repeatedly had interactions with Russian nationals and WikiLeaks during the 2016 presidential campaign and transition.

Among these contacts are more than 100 in-person meetings, phone calls, text messages, emails and private messages on Twitter. Mr. Trump and his campaign repeatedly denied having such contacts.

Knowledge of these interactions is based on New York Times reporting, documents submitted to Congress, and court records and accusations related to the special counsel investigating foreign interference in the election.

roger stone cnn breitbart

Longtime Trump friend and advisor Roger J. Stone (shown on a file photo screengrab from a CNN interview)

ny times logoNew York Times, Roger Stone, a Trump Confidant, Is Defiant Even Under Indictment, Annie Karni and Maggie Haberman, Jan. 26, 2019 (print edition). Mr. Stone, who was indicted on Friday, has tried to write himself into history since he worked on the re-election campaign of President Richard M. Nixon, whose face is tattooed between his shoulder blades.

 washington post logoWashington Post, Mueller charges Stone, striking deep inside Trump’s inner circle, Devlin Barrett, Rosalind S. Helderman, Lori Rozsa and Manuel Roig-Franzia, Jan. 26, 2019 (print edition). The indictment of Roger Stone, a longtime friend of President Trump, goes further than the special counsel ever has toward answering the core question of his probe: Did Trump or those close to him try to conspire with the Kremlin?

robert mueller full face fileIn charging Stone, Mueller (right) has struck deep inside Trump’s inner circle. The indictment charges that Stone, a seasoned Republican political operative, sought to gather information about hacked Democratic Party emails at the direction of an unidentified senior Trump campaign official and engaged in extensive efforts to keep secret the details of those actions.

The 24-page document goes further than Mueller ever has toward answering the core question of his probe: Did Trump or those close to him try to conspire with the Kremlin? The indictment notes that before Stone’s alleged actions in the summer of 2016, the Democratic National Committee announced it had been hacked by Russian government operatives, implying that Stone must have known that.

It does not allege Stone conspired with anyone but suggests his mission was to find out how the stolen material would be made public — something that, on its own, would not necessarily constitute a crime.

Indicting Stone caps one of the special counsel’s longest pursuits since his appointment in May 2017, but it remains uncertain whether Mueller is nearing the end of his investigation.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Senator says Donald Trump is on the verge of getting hit with criminal charges, Bill Palmer, Jan. 26, 2019. This week’s criminal indictment and arrest of Roger Stone was about something far bigger than just Stone. The indictment omitted several of the alleged Stone crimes that Robert Mueller has been presenting to the grand jury, meaning that the case against Stone isn’t complete, and for now Mueller is simply looking to legally establish the criminal conspiracy that Stone participated in with WikiLeaks and the Donald Trump campaign.

bill palmer report logo headerVarious political pundits were able to quickly figure out that Steve Bannon was the senior Trump campaign official who instructed Roger Stone to illegally conspire with WikiLeaks. But the indictment went further by specifying that Bannon himself was instructed to have Stone do this, and Palmer Report deduced richard blumenthal portraitthat Bannon could only have taken this instruction from Donald Trump and/or a member of his family. It turns out a U.S. Senator agrees with us on this.

Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal, right, appeared on CNN and said this: “In my view, and probably in Robert Mueller’s view, that person, directing the senior official, had to be Donald Trump, or possibly Donald Trump Jr.” And if it was Junior, then he almost certainly ran it past his father first. Blumenthal then added that Donald Trump “is one step, maybe just a baby step, away from criminal charges.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Mueller’s Real Target in the Roger Stone Indictment, Julian Sanchez (senior fellow at the Cato Institute), Jan. 26, 2019. It was probably not Stone himself, but rather his electronic devices. For many, Friday’s arrest of Roger Stone, the veteran political trickster and longtime adviser to Donald Trump, was a sign that the special counsel investigation into Russian electoral interference is entering its final phase. Yet there were also several indications that the probe may not be as near its conclusion as many observers assume — and that the true target of Friday’s F.B.I. actions was not Mr. Stone himself, but his electronic devices.

fbi logoMr. Stone’s early-morning arrest at his Florida home unsurprisingly dominated coverage, but reports also noted that federal agents were “seen carting hard drives and other evidence from Mr. Stone’s apartment in Harlem, and his recording studio in South Florida was also raided.” The F.B.I., in other words, was executing search warrants, not just arrest warrants.

The indictment itself — which charges Mr. Stone with witness tampering, obstruction of justice and false statements to Congress — takes little imagination to translate into a search warrant application, and also hints at what Robert Mueller might be looking for. In describing the lies it alleges Mr. Stone told a House committee, the document places great emphasis on Mr. Stone’s denial that he had any written communications with two associates — associates with whom he had, in fact, regularly exchanged emails and text messages. That’s precisely the sort of behavior one might focus on in seeking to convince a recalcitrant judge that an investigative target could not be trusted to turn over documents in response to a subpoena, requiring the more intrusive step of seizing Mr. Stone’s devices directly.

Though it’s not directly relevant to his alleged false statements, the special counsel is taking pains to establish that Mr. Stone made a habit of moving sensitive conversations to encrypted messaging platforms like WhatsApp — meaning that, unlike ordinary emails, the messages could not be obtained directly from the service provider.

The clear implication is that any truly incriminating communications would have been conducted in encrypted form — and thus could be obtained only directly from Mr. Stone’s own phones and laptops. And while Mr. Stone likely has limited value as a cooperating witness — it’s hard to put someone on the stand after charging them with lying to obstruct justice — the charges against him provide leverage in the event his cooperation is needed to unlock those devices by supplying a cryptographic passphrase.

Daily Beast, Opinion, Mueller Would Never Flip a Slime Ball Like Roger Stone, Peter Zeidenberg, Jan. 27, 2019. Prosecutor who helped convict Dick Cheney aide Scooter Libby for lying and obstruction says the case against Trump’s old pal is virtually perfect.

The long-anticipated indictment of Roger Stone finally dropped on Friday, and it landed on Stone like the proverbial ton of bricks. As someone who prosecuted Scooter Libby and others on similar charges and defended white-collar cases involving similar charges as those alleged here — false statements, obstruction of justice and witness tampering — my takeaway is that Stone should begin getting his affairs in order.

Barring a presidential pardon (always the wild-card possibility with a POTUS like Trump) Stone will be convicted and receive a very substantial prison sentence. This is as close to a slam-dunk case as a prosecutor will ever bring.

There are several types of defenses that are typically employed when defending a case like this, and none of them are viable here.

Peter Zeidenberg is a former federal prosecutor and was a deputy special counsel in the prosecution of Scooter Libby. He is currently a white-collar partner at Arent Fox, in Washington, D.C.

Jan. 25

washington post logoWashington Post, Longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone indicted in Mueller probe, Rosalind S. Helderman, Devlin Barrett and John Wagner, Jan. 25, 2019. Stone — who faces five counts of false statements along with other charges — has acknowledged exchanging messages with Guccifer 2.0, a Twitter persona that intelligence officials say was a front operated by the Russian military officers. Read the indictment.

roger stone hands waving no credit from stone cold Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, Roger Stone says he won’t testify against Trump after indictment, Devlin Barrett, Rosalind S. Helderman, John Wagner and Manuel Roig-Franzia​, Jan. 25, 2019. Stone, a longtime adviser to President Trump, said he has been falsely accused by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. Stone (shown above in a file photo) faces charges that he lied and tried to tamper with a witness to hide his efforts to learn about releases of Democrats’ hacked emails during the 2016 campaign.

Speaking before a raucous crowd outside the courthouse, Stone vowed to fight the case.

“I will plead not guilty to these charges. I will defeat them in court,” he said. Some in the crowd jeered and chanted “lock him up.” Others shouted support for Stone.

fbi logo“There is no circumstance whatsoever under which I will bear false witness against the president nor will I make up lies to ease the pressure on myself. I look forward to being fully and completely vindicated,” Stone said. “I will not testify against the president because I would have to bear false witness.”

With Stone’s indictment, special counsel Robert S. Mueller III has struck deep inside Trump’s inner circle, charging a long-standing friend of the president. The court filing charges Stone sought to gather information about hacked emails at the direction of an unidentified senior Trump campaign official, and then engaged in extensive efforts to keep secret the details of those efforts.

 john podesta emails wikileaks image

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: John Podesta: It might now be Roger Stone’s time in the barrel, John Podesta (shown above with Hillary Clinton), Jan. 25, 2019.John Podesta, the chair of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, served as counselor to President Barack Obama and chief of staff to President Bill Clinton.

john podesta o CustomStone’s connection with and boasting about WikiLeaks during the campaign has always been fishy. But thanks to special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation, the truth is finally coming out. Friday’s indictment alleges that a senior campaign official “was directed” (and by whom?) to contact Stone about the WikiLeaks releases even after it was widely reported that they were a Russian hacking operation.

The accusations against Stone are serious. He faces a seven-count indictment: five counts of false statements, one count of obstruction and one count of witness tampering. The details of the indictment are devastating and, characteristically of Stone, quite colorful. According to the filing, Stone emailed a confederate labeled “Person 2” (identified by the media as radio host Randy Credico) to dissuade him from testifying truthfully about WikiLeaks before the House Intelligence Committee: “You are a rat. A stoolie. You backstab your friends-run your mouth my lawyers are dying Rip you to shreds” and “I am so ready. Let’s get it on. Prepare to die [expletive].” Stone instructs Person 2 to do a “Frank Pentangeli” — a character from “The Godfather Part II” who famously lies to congressional investigators — and, my nostalgic favorite, Stone paraphrases a quote from President Richard M. Nixon during the Watergate coverup: “Stonewall it. Plead the Fifth. Anything to save the plan.”

To anyone keeping abreast of the unfolding events in the Mueller investigation, this level of sleaze is not at all surprising. The walls have been closing in for some time. As a key member of Trump’s inner circle, Stone and his course of conduct during the campaign and after have exemplified a culture of cronyism and corruption that ignored all ethical standards and rewarded fabrication over the hard truth of reality.

Related stories:

washington post logo jerome corsiWashington Post, Witness in special counsel probe, former Stone associate, collected payments from Infowars through job Stone arranged, Manuel Roig-Franzia and Rosilind S. Helderman, Jan. 25, 2019 (print edition). Dr. Jerome Corsi, author and longtime right-wing pundit, shown in a file photo. Corsi also identified himself as "Person 1" in the grand jury indictment of Stone.

•  washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: 4 takeaways from the indictment, Aaron Blake,Jan. 25, 2019. In many ways, this feels like another “speaking indictment” from the special counsel. There’s a hint that something more could come. As he has in past indictments, Mueller isn’t showing us too much here. But spending so much time detailing the campaign’s interest in WikiLeaks — which speaks to Stone’s alleged lies but probably isn’t entirely necessary — does seem conspicuous. Remember that Mueller routinely includes stuff like this that comes up later — most notably with Konstantin Kilimnik’s ties to Russian intelligence and Michael Cohen’s plea to lying about Trump Tower Moscow.

• Alex Jones Show, Opinion: Exclusive update on the arrest of Roger Stone, Alex Jones, Jan. 25, 2019. The FBI conducted a dramatic pre-dawn raid on former Trump campaign advisor and War Room host Roger Stone. CNN admitted that they were waiting outside Stone’s house before the arrest due to “reporter’s instinct.” In his first statement since the arrest, Stone asserts that the indictment against him contains no evidence of Russian collusion and that special counsel Robert Mueller now has more power than President Trump.

• Washington Examiner, Jerome Corsi confirms he is ‘Person 1’ in Roger Stone indictment, predicts he won't be charged, Kelly Cohen, Jan. 25, 2019. Conservative political commentator Jerome Corsi confirmed Friday that he is “Person 1” cited in the indictment of Roger Stone and predicted that he won't face charges. Stone, an ally of President Trump, was arrested and indicted on Friday as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. The indictment outlines several communications between between Stone and “Person 1” and “Person 2” about WikiLeaks’ plans to release stolen emails from the Democratic Party during the 2016 presidential election.

"Dr. Corsi has reviewed the indictment of Roger Stone which references him as Person 1. Importantly, the Stone Indictment does not accuse Dr. Corsi of any wrongdoing and indeed this is the case. Dr. Corsi has fully cooperated with the Special Counsel and his prosecutors and testified truthfully to the grand jury, as well as during interviews with them,” Corsi said through his legal counsel, Larry Klayman and David Gray. In November, Corsi said he was rejecting a deal offered by Mueller to plead guilty to one count of perjury because he said he did not purposely lie to investigators.

Manafort Scandal

washington post logoWashington Post, Paul Manafort faces sealed hearing on allegations he lied to Mueller team after guilty plea, Spencer S. Hsu and Rachel Weiner, Jan. 25, 2019. If a federal judge were to decide that the former Trump campaign chairman lied and broke his plea agreement, it could spell as much as 10 years more in prison for Manafort when his sentencing finally is set.

paul manafort mugFormer Trump campaign manager Paul J. Manafort (shown in a mug shot). The Justice Integrity Project is covering the hearing in federal court in Washington, DC.

A federal judge asked for a hearing behind closed doors before she decides whether Paul Manafort lied repeatedly to prosecutors in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s probe of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election, setting a hearing for Feb. 4, just days before the former Trump campaign chairman faces sentencing in Virginia.