Days after a federal judge imposed a limited gag order on him, Trump confidant Roger Stone posted a photograph of that judge to his Instagram page and included her name, a close-up of her face and what appeared to be the crosshairs of a gun sight near her head.
Stone deleted the picture soon after, then reposted it without the crosshairs before deleting the second post.
U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson is presiding over Stone’s criminal trial in which he has pleaded not guilty to charges of lying about his efforts to gather information about hacked 2016 Democratic Party emails that were published by WikiLeaks.
Jackson imposed the gag order Friday, telling Stone that he could not make statements to the media about his case near the federal courthouse in Washington, but imposing no other restrictions on his ability to make public comments.
The judge put greater constraints on attorneys and potential witnesses, telling them not to make statements that could prejudice jurors.
In the text accompanying the first post, Stone referred to special counsel Robert Mueller, who brought the case against him. “Through legal trickery Deep State hitman Robert Mueller has guaranteed that my upcoming show trial is before Judge Amy Berman Jackson,” Stone wrote, and added that Jackson is “an Obama appointed judge” and the "#fixisin.”
The U.S. Marshals Service, which provides security to federal judges, did not respond to a request for comment.
In a text message to the Washington Post on Monday, Stone said the photograph of Jackson had been posted by a “volunteer” who helps him with his social media accounts.
“The photo has been misinterpreted, and in no way did I mean to threaten the judge or disrespect the court.” Stone wrote. "[It] is a random photo selected from the internet and was posted at my direction. Because it was open to misinterpretation, I have ordered it taken down.”
Stone also disputed that the original post included crosshairs.
“What some say are crosshairs are in fact the logo of the organization that originally posted it — something called Corruption Central,” Stone told the Post. “They use the logo in many photos.”
The photograph does indeed appear on at least one far-right blog, emblazoned with the crosshairs-like logo.
Stone has used the possibility of a gag order as a cudgel to attack the special counsel’s office. Earlier this month, Stone posted a photo of himself on Instagram with what appeared to be a large piece of gold tape over his mouth.
Beneath the photo, he wrote: “Now an Obama-appointed Judge wants to gag me so I can’t defend myself from the many media leaks by the Mueller hit squad... My lawyers are fighting this effort to abridge my First Amendment Rights.”
In the days leading to Jackson’s courthouse-vicinity gag-order decision, Stone and his family members frequently argued that a gag order would limit his ability to raise money for his legal defense fund.
In a Feb. 8 fundraising letter, Stone’s wife, Nydia Stone, wrote: “The same Obama appointed judge who put Paul Manafort in solitary confinement prior to his being convicted of any crime is now considering issuing a gag order so that my husband can no longer publicly raise money for his legal defense - that’s why it is important that you rush me your answer today.” She underlined the sentence for emphasis.
Jackson is the same judge who ruled that Manafort — Stone’s longtime friend and former business partner — lied to Mueller’s prosecutors last week.
In past messages to the Post, Stone has struck a more conciliatory note, writing on the day of the partial gag order, “I am pleased that the judge’s order leaves my first amendment right to defend myself in public intact.”
“I will of course continue to be judicious about my comments regarding the case,” he added.
Reis Thebault and Manuel Roig-Franzia write for the Washington Post.