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Gag Order on Stone Expands Following Crosshairs Post

Roger Stone faced the wrath of federal judge Thursday after failing to adequately explain why he posted a picture of her on Instagram with the apparent crosshairs of a gun near her head.

WASHINGTON (CN) - Roger Stone faced the wrath of a federal judge Thursday after failing to adequately explain why he posted a picture of her on Instagram with the apparent crosshairs of a gun near her head.

Unsatisfied with the contradictory explanations Stone offered about the post, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson imposed a total gag order on Stone that will prohibit him from speaking publicly about his case at all.

And she issued a stern warning: "This is not baseball. There will not be a third chance."

Should Stone violate her order, Jackson said she would revoke pretrial release and have him detained ahead of trial.

Jackson is an Obama appointee, and Stone’s post, which he deleted shortly after posting on Monday, implied that this would hurt his chance of a fair trial.

Indicted as part of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, Stone also took aim at Special Counsel Robert Mueller, describing the prosecutor in the post as a "Deep State hitman."

He apologized to the court for the Instagram posts that same day.

"Please inform the court that the photograph and comment today was improper and should not have been posted," Stone wrote. "I had no intention of disrespecting the court and humbly apologize to the Court for the transgression."

On the witness stand this afternoon, Stone reiterated that apology, pointing to a "lapse in judgment." 

"I am kicking myself over my own stupidity," Stone said. "But not more than my wife is kicking me." 

Stone also described his conduct as an outgrowth of extreme stress.

"I've never been the subject of a 7-count criminal indictment, Stone said.

The apology fell entirely flat with Jackson.

"It's the lawyers, not Mr. Stone, who were appalled," Jackson said. "So thank you for the apology, but it rings quite hollow."

Jackson pressed Stone about the apparent crosshairs in the Instagram post. Stone called it an occultic symbol but offered no more detail about its meaning when Jackson asked.

“I don’t know, your honor, I’m not into the occult,” Stone said.  

Stone's defense attorney, Bruce Rogow, urged Jackson to simply refine the court's order.

"He should not be talking about the special prosecutor," Rogow said. "He should not be impugning the integrity of the court."

A self-professed "dirty trickster" and longtime Republican operative, Stone previously denied that he intended to threaten Jackson and insisted on the witness stand Thursday that the post was not entirely his doing.

Though the Trump confidant admitted that he saw the image before it was posted to his Instagram account, he denied doing it himself.

Stone made no attempt to identify the individual who posted the picture, and he also declined to identify the "five or six" volunteer workers he said have access to his phone and his Instagram login information.

When pressed about whether he had questioned his volunteers, Stone responded: "nobody will admit to it."

Stone also waffled when prosecutor Jonathan Kravis questioned him about media statements he made after he deleted the Instagram post, including an interview with the conspiracy website InfoWars.

Stone said he spoke out publicly because he "did not want to be blamed for something that was not my intention."

But Jackson interjected, pointing out to Stone that he told InfoWars the controversy surrounding his Instagram post was just another example of media making him a target.

"I want to know if you said that," Jackson said.

Stone demurred, repeating that he thought the media coverage of the incident misrepresented him.

Kravis meanwhile called it hard to trust Stone’s apologies given his “not credible” testimony: By Stone’s own account, he continued to make media statements echoing the message of the Instagram post after realizing that it was a mistake.

After a 15-minute recess, Jackson issued her ruling from the bench.

"I am not reassured that Mr. Stone is all talk and no action and this is just a big mistake," she said.

She said Stone used his public platform to incite others who may feel less constrained. That, she said, posed a real risk that others with more violent inclinations might be inflamed.

"The post had a more sinister message," Jackson said. "Roger Stone fully understands the power of words, and the power of symbols. And there's nothing ambiguous about crosshairs.”

Stone, donning a blue suit and tie, listened to Jackson speak with his elbow resting on the table, and his head propped up with his hand.

Jackson said she believes Stone's intent was to denigrate the case and taint the jury pool.

“So, no, Mr. Stone, I'm not giving you another chance," she said. "I have serious doubt whether you learned any lesson at all."

Under Jackson’s order, Stone can still publicly proclaim his innocence and use his social media accounts to raise funds for his legal defense.

A grand jury indicted Stone for obstruction, witness tampering and lying to Congress concerning his effort to obtain information about damaging Democratic Party emails WikiLeaks published, which U.S. intelligence agencies say were stolen by Russian hackers to tip the 2016 election in Trump's favor.

Stone pleaded not guilty to all of the charges, none of which implicate him in conspiring with Russian election meddling.

Categories / Criminal, Government, Media, Politics

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