Lackluster Book Sales Plague Stone as Judge Sets Trial Date

Roger Stone, an associate of President Donald Trump, leaves the U.S. District Court after a Thursday status conference on his seven charges: one count of obstruction of an official proceeding, five counts of false statements, and one count of witness tampering. Stone has pleaded not guilty to the charges. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

WASHINGTON (CN) – A prosecutor with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office took a jab at longtime Trump confidant Roger Stone in court Thursday by noting that his book sales aren’t going so well.

The reference to sales of Stone’s “The Making of the President 2016: How Donald Trump Orchestrated a Revolution” appear in a Feb. 26 email from an employee at Skyhorse Publishing.

“They are not selling particularly well so far, but hopefully that will change,” the email says.

Prosecutor Jeannie Rhee brought the email to the court’s attention this morning to undercut a claim Stone had made on March 1 that the book’s release was “imminent.”

Rhee said the email also contradicts a prior assertion Stone made that he’d not had direct communications with the book’s publisher.

“That’s what the document on its face seems to represent,” Rhee said.

Skyhorse rereleased the 2017 book with a new introduction in which Stone dubs Special Counsel Mueller “crooked,” and counts himself on Mueller’s “hit list.”

Stone’s attorneys asserted in a Monday filing that they became aware in early February that the book had been printed.

On Feb. 18, Stone said he had received two boxes of the books from the publisher and began handing them out to friends and family.

Stone said he could not recall, however, when the book became available for sale in bookstores, or when it became available online.

Jackson had also ordered Stone to specify the dates and content of any social media postings about the book since January but Stone said, “to the best” of his knowledge, he hadn’t posted about the book since Jan. 15, about 10 days before he was arrested on charges of lying to Congress and obstructing the Mueller investigation.

Stone’s attorneys say their client informed them of the book’s new introduction “immediately” after a Feb. 21 hearing, which prompted Stone to ask the court to clarify that the gag order does not apply to the book.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson denied the motion and ordered Stone to provide more details.

But Jackson said Thursday morning, in response to prosecutor Rhee, that she hadn’t had time to look through all the exhibits Stone’s attorneys provided about the matter.

She promised to do so and said she would inform the parties if she has further questions about the matter.

Jackson did respond, however, to an assertion from defense attorney Robert Buschel that it would have been “awkward” to have told the court about the book’s new introduction during oral arguments on Feb. 21.

“I’m not sure that’s a very strong response from a very experienced litigator and officer of the court … There’s no exception for awkward,” Jackson said.

Jackson took a few brief moments to scold the parties on “collateral matters” she said had already taken more time than they deserve.

Thursday’s hearing marked the second time Stone had to answer for his public musings about the case.

On Feb. 19 – the day after Stone received two boxes of his book from the publisher – Jackson ordered him to appear for a hearing to explain why he posted a picture of her on his Instagram account with apparent gun crosshairs near her head.

The post, which Stone later deleted and apologized for, prompted Jackson to slap a stricter gag order on Stone. Prior to that, Jackson had allowed Stone to speak about the case, just not at or near the courthouse.

Jackson issued the revised order on Feb. 21 so that Stone can now only mention the case to proclaim his innocence or raise funds for his defense.

“My February 21 order stands,” Jackson said Thursday. “I expect compliance.”

Rather than delve into the question of whether or not Stone’s new book introduction violated the gag order, Jackson devoted Thursday’s brief 30-minute hearing to scheduling matters, including setting a trial date.

The trial, which is expected the last about two weeks, will begin on Nov. 5.

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