Judge orders Stone to explain book release amid gag order

A federal judge on Tuesday ordered Roger Stone to explain how he’s tried to comply with a gag order while releasing a book that criticizes special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

Judge Amy Berman Jackson, an Obama appointee on the federal district court in Washington, D.C., said Stone had multiple opportunities to inform the court that he was planning to rerelease a book he published in 2016 with a new introduction that attacks Mueller’s probe.

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Jackson last month barred Stone from talking publicly about his case or the Russia investigation after he posted a threatening photo to his Instagram account of the judge with what appeared to be the crosshairs of a rifle scope behind her head.

In a sealed motion on Friday, Stone asked the court to clarify that its order did not apply to what he described as the “imminent” rerelease of his book, now titled “The Myth of Russian Collusion.”

Three days later, Stone told the court his use of the word “imminent” had been a “misnomer” because the book was already for sale. The admission came after Mueller and U.S. Attorney Jessie Liu informed the court that Stone’s book and introduction were already available on Amazon.com and Google Books.

Stone said the new introduction to the book, first released under the title “The Making of the President 2016,” was written in January, before Jackson issued the Feb. 21 gag order.

In a footnote, Jackson said Stone’s admission on Monday that the book was already for sale made it look like he had only asked the court to clarify its order on Friday to generate publicity for the book.

She said the fact that the gag order exists at all is entirely Stone’s fault.

“The Court did not impose any restrictions on his speech whatsoever until, as he put it, he ‘abused the latitude’ the court gave him, and he used his public platform in an incendiary and threatening manner,” Jackson said.

“And any costs or consequences that will be occasioned by the court’s reiteration of this clear requirement at this late date are also solely attributable to the defendant, since he deliberately waited until public sales were not only ‘imminent,’ but apparently, ongoing, to inform the court of the publication effort that had been underway for weeks.”

Jackson ordered Stone to file a status report by March 1 that details his efforts to come into compliance with the court’s rulings.

She also ordered Stone to supplement the record with the exact dates the book was first made available for purchase online, when the introduction was made available for viewing, and whether and when Stone became aware that the new edition of the book had been printed by the publisher.

Jackson said Stone must also provide details of all social media posts, including those that have been deleted, since Jan. 15 in that either concern or publicize the book’s release.

Mueller and Liu told Jackson in a notice Monday that Stone had shared a photo on his Instagram account over the weekend that suggested he’s been framed.

Jackson also told Stone to describe all the steps he has taken and communications he’s had with the publisher or any retailers concerning the release or sale of the book between Feb. 21 and March 1.

Updated at 4:10 p.m.