Attorneys for Roger Stone withheld or misrepresented plans for his new book criticizing special counsel Robert S. Mueller III in violation of a gag order in his case, a federal judge found Tuesday, warning that any “costs or consequences” that result are solely his responsibility.
The new order by U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson of Washington does not spell out consequences but appears to bode ill for the longtime friend of President Trump and Republican operative, who asked the court for leeway late Friday regarding the “imminent release” of a new version of his book about Trump’s 2016 campaign, retitled “The Myth of Russian Collusion.”
As part of her order, the judge also said she was left with an impression that Stone may have been using her docket to gin up publicity for his book.
In the book’s new introduction, Stone attacks Mueller as “crooked” and accuses “Deep State liberals” of seeking to silence him despite a Feb. 21 gag order. Stone’s attorneys argued that “not a single word of the book was created” after that date, and that it did not occur to them to tell the judge about it before the order since the book had already been available to purchase online for two days.
Jackson dismissed that reasoning, saying it is undisputed that the order barred all public statements by Stone about the investigation.
“It does not matter when the defendant may have first formulated the opinions expressed, or when he first put them into words: He may no longer share his views on these particular subjects with the world,” Jackson said.
She also said she was left with a sense that the court filing talking about a soon-to-be released book may have been a public relations move.
In the filing, Stone’s lawyers wrote that they were flagging the upcoming book out of an “abundance of caution,” given the gag order. But Jackson wrote Tuesday that, since the book already was out before the filing was made, it “gives rise to the impression” that the March 1 motion “was intended to serve as a means to generate additional publicity for the book.”
Jackson ordered Stone’s defense to explain by next Monday how he will come into compliance. She did not state a demand that he pull the book from shelves nationwide.
However, the judge wrote that Stone’s attorneys may have waived any right to complain about his free speech rights because they themselves proposed that the gag order on their client bar “improper” speech by Stone impugning the integrity of the court, Mueller or his prosecution.