Mueller says limited gag order appropriate in Stone case

Special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerTop Republican considered Mueller subpoena to box in Democrats Kamala Harris says her Justice Dept would have 'no choice' but to prosecute Trump for obstruction Dem committees win new powers to investigate Trump MORE told a federal court Friday that a “narrowly-tailored” gag order would be appropriate in the case of longtime Trump adviser Roger StoneRoger Jason StoneCounterprotesters outnumber far-right extremists at DC rally Judge orders Roger Stone to file rebuttal to allegation he violated gag order Federal prosecutors allege Roger Stone violated gag order with Instagram posts MORE, noting that public statements by the parties could taint the eventual jury pool.

“The government does not oppose a narrowly-tailored order in this case restricting extrajudicial statements of the parties and attorneys that are substantially ‘likely to interfere with the rights of the accused to a fair trial by an impartial jury,’” Mueller’s team of prosecutors wrote in a filing.

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“Further, should the Court decide to issue such an order, the government submits that the order would be supported by a finding that there is a substantial likelihood that extrajudicial comments by trial participants will undermine a fair trial,” they wrote.

Judge Amy Berman Jackson, the Obama appointee overseeing Stone’s criminal trial in Washington, D.C., said at a hearing last week that she was considering issuing a gag order. Stone has been making rounds in the media since his indictment in late January, frequently speaking about his arrest and proclaiming his innocence.

Stone, who pleaded not guilty to charges brought in connection with Mueller’s investigation, has vehemently opposed the possibility of a gag order. In an earlier filing Friday, his defense attorneys argued that it would infringe on his First Amendment rights and impede his ability to “pursue his livelihood.”

“The Court expresses its awareness that Mr. Stone’s case is of interest to some portions of the public, however supposition about the breadth and depth of this interest, and any possible impact on the seating of an impartial jury – a process still many months away – is not appropriate and, in any event, would be entirely speculative,” Stone’s attorneys wrote.

“While Roger Stone may be familiar to those who closely follow American politics, he is hardly ubiquitous in the larger landscape of popular consciousness,” they wrote.

Stone’s lawyers also said his public statements did not present a “clear and present danger” to the seating of an impartial jury.

“Roger Stone is entitled to speak as he wishes unless it can be established, by clear and convincing evidence, that a clear and present danger to the seating of an impartial jury is presented,” his attorneys wrote.

Stone faces charges of witness tampering, lying to Congress about his interactions regarding WikiLeaks and obstruction of a congressional probe. 

He has acknowledged the possibility of a gag order, but noted he makes a living on public appearances that could be hampered by an order limiting his public statements.

“We’ll deal with that when it comes,” Stone told reporters at a press conference last week. “I would point out that I make a living writing and speaking about politics. I would hope that the court would take that into consideration.”