Judge imposes full gag order on Roger Stone

During a heated hearing on Thursday, the federal judge presiding over Roger StoneRoger Jason Stone'Iowa Pete' poll exposes myth that Democrats are veering left Democrats ask judge for quick ruling on McGahn subpoena Democratic impeachment investigators looking at whether Trump misled Mueller MORE’s criminal case banned the longtime Trump associate from saying anything publicly about his case.

The ruling, harsher than the limited gag order U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson issued last week, comes after Stone posted an inflammatory photo of the judge on his Instagram account over the weekend.  

Before Jackson ruled from the bench, Stone took the stand to beg for forgiveness.

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"I abused the order for which I'm heartfully sorry," he said. "I'm kicking myself over my own stupidity."

Stone admitted on the stand that he had posted the image of Jackson, which appeared to have the crosshairs of a rifle scope behind her head. In interviews after the post Stone claimed the symbol was part of a logo.

“How hard was it to come up with a photo that didn’t have crosshairs in the corner?” Jackson asked him in court.

The photo, which was shared on Sunday and then quickly deleted, was accompanied by a critique of Jackson, which Stone admitted in court he wrote.

In the post, he called special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerHouse impeachment hearings: The witch hunt continues Speier says impeachment inquiry shows 'very strong case of bribery' by Trump Gowdy: I '100 percent' still believe public congressional hearings are 'a circus' MORE a “Deep State hitman,” who guaranteed through legal trickery that Stone’s upcoming “show trial” would be before Jackson. He then noted that Jackson was appointed by former President Obama, had dismissed the Benghazi charges against former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonAs Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Harris rips Gabbard over Fox appearances during Obama years Steyer, Gabbard and Yang shut out of early minutes of Democratic debate MORE and incarcerated former Trump campaign chairman Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortDemocratic impeachment investigators looking at whether Trump misled Mueller Gates sentencing set for next month Yovanovitch says John Solomon's columns were used to push false allegations MORE prior to his conviction.

Stone tried to convince Jackson during the hearing that the photo was selected by one of his volunteers, that he never meant for it to be viewed as a threat against her and that he honestly did not believe the symbol in the corner was crosshairs.

“I can’t rationalize my thinking because I wasn’t thinking and that’s my own fault,” he said.

But Jackson wasn’t buying it.

“Thank you, but the apology rings quite hollow,” she said.

When paired with incendiary comments, she said, the photo can lead to threats against the judiciary and incite violence.

“There is nothing ambiguous about crosshairs,” she said.

Under the new order, Stone is barred from speaking publicly, giving any media interviews, commenting about his case on social media or indirectly commenting by having statements made on his behalf.

Jackson, however, told Stone he can send out as many tweets or posts as he wants asking for donations to his legal defense fund and can therein deny the charges against him or claim innocence — but that’s it.

In pleading for a second chance, Stone told Jackson he’s depleted his savings and suffering from emotional and financial stress as a result of the criminal charges against him.

“I’m having trouble putting food on the table and paying rent,” he said. “I cannot use anything I raised in my legal defense for my personal expenses. That goes to my attorneys.”

Stone’s attorney Bruce Rogow had earlier explained to Jackson that Stone makes his living as a communications consultant and by writing and talking publicly. Jackson asked Rogow at one points if Stone’s $47,000 a month income comes from his consulting work.

“As I understand it,” Rogow said.

Jackson went on to warn Stone during the two-hour hearing that any violation of the new gag order could be a basis for revoking the $250,000 bond that has kept him out of jail.

“I gave you a second chance, but this is not baseball,” she said. “There will not be a third chance.”

Stone, 66, a longtime GOP operative and former informal adviser to President TrumpDonald John TrumpFive takeaways from the Democratic debate As Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Leading Democrats largely pull punches at debate MORE, said in court on Thursday that a volunteer had provided him with the photo, but later admitted he had been given two or three pictures from which to choose for the post.

"You had a choice?" Jackson asked, incredulous.

Even Rogow seemed appalled by the post.

“It should not have been done,” he said “It’s indefensible.”

“I agree with you there,” Jackson said.

Stone has been indicted on seven charges stemming from Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign. He pleaded not guilty to obstructing a congressional inquiry, tampering with witnesses and making false statements to Congress.

In Jackson’s first order, she barred the counsel for the parties and the witnesses in the case from making statements to the media or in public settings “that pose a substantial likelihood of material prejudice to this case.”

She had further restricted all parties in the case from making public statements or talking to the press in the vicinity of the courthouse.

—Updated at 5:48 p.m.