Judge warns Roger Stone: Russia probe charges not a ‘book tour’ and considers issuing gag order

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Judge warns Roger Stone: Russia probe charges not a ‘book tour’ and considers issuing gag order

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There’s much more to Roger Stone than his connection to President Donald Trump.
USA TODAY

WASHINGTON — A federal judge told Roger Stone on Friday that she did not want him to treat the criminal case against him like “a book tour,” and said she was considering issuing a gag order to quiet the prolific political operative and longtime confidant of President Donald Trump. 
Stone has conducted a carousel of television interviews since FBI agents arrested him last week on charges that he lied to Congress and tried to obstruct the investigation of Russian interference into the 2016 election. He has suggested the case against him is a plot to install Hillary Clinton in the White House, criticized the early morning raid on his house and even offered tips on what to wear to court when being arraigned. 
U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson said she was concerned that the continued publicity surrounding the case against the 66-year-old political operative could “taint” the jury pool. She gave Stone’s lawyers and federal prosecutors until next Friday to tell her whether she should issue an order preventing them all from talking publicly about the case. 

Roger Stone, a former political operative for the Trump campaign, arrives for a federal court hearing in Washington. Stone was indicted on one count of obstruction, five counts of making false statements to Congress and one count of witness tampering. (Photo: Jack Gruber, USA Today)

Berman said the “considerable publicity” related  to the case has been “fueled by extra-judicial statements by the defendant himself.” She later reminded Stone that he was now at the center of “a criminal proceeding, not a public relations campaign.”
Stone appeared to heed the judge’s warning as he left court on Friday afternoon. He declined to comment, but flashed his now-trademark, Nixon-esque victory wave before ducking into a white SUV.
The court session came a day after federal prosecutors disclosed that they had seized a cache of potential evidence from Stone’s home and office following his arrest last week. Prosecutors and Stone’s attorneys have agreed that material is “voluminous and complex,” and includes “multiple hard drives containing several terabytes of information,” including messages he had sent and received over several years. 

Prosecutors told Jackson on Friday that they had seized so much material that they might not be ready to bring Stone to trial until October.
At the heart of the charges against Stone is his relationship with WikiLeaks, the anti-secrecy group that published troves of documents stolen from Democratic political organizations by hackers working for Russian military intelligence. Stone is the latest Trump associate to face charges in a special counsel investigation that has shadowed the president’s first two years in office.
Prosecutors alleged that starting in the summer of 2016, as Trump secured the Republican nomination for president and as the FBI launched its initial inquiry into Russia’s election interference campaign, Stone communicated with senior Trump campaign officials about WikiLeaks and the politically charged material in its possession.
More: Trump attacks Roger Stone indictment as White House aides try to distance him
More: Who is Roger Stone? Longtime Republican operative worked on campaigns from Richard Nixon to Donald Trump

In those contacts, according to court documents, the campaign officials – who were not identified – referred to information that “would be damaging to the Clinton campaign.”
Among the allegations contained in the charging documents is a claim that after the release of stolen Clinton-related emails July 22, “a senior campaign official was directed to contact Stone about any additional releases and what other damaging information (WikiLeaks) had regarding the Clinton campaign.”

“Stone, thereafter, told the Trump campaign about the potential future releases of damaging material by (WikiLeaks),” prosecutors alleged.
Stone has denied serving as an intermediary between the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks.

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Former Trump campaign advisor Roger Stone professed innocence and sought legal funds after being charged in the Russia probe with lying, witness tampering and obstruction in connection with the 2016 presidential election. (Jan. 31)
AP

 

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