Federal Judge Blocks Roger Stone From Using Social Media Accounts After Gag Order Violation

A federal judge in Washington on Tuesday banned Republican political operative Roger Stone, who is an associate of President Donald Trump, from using his social media accounts after he violated a gag order on his ongoing criminal trial, BuzzFeed News reported.

U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson’s ruling comes after Stone had previously gone before the judge to defend posts made to his social media accounts.

Jackson reportedly said she believed Stone was “determined to make himself the subject of the story,” per BuzzFeed News. At the Tuesday hearing, Jackson explained why 12 posts Stone made to his Instagram account were in violation of the gag order, per Politico.

The judge had initially allowed Stone to discuss his trial so long as it wasn’t in the vicinity of the court; however, she imposed the initial gag order in February after Stone posted a photo to his Instagram account that appeared to depict crosshairs above the judge’s head, per Politico. Stone has previously apologized for that post.

The judge also said Stone’s behavior was more appropriate of a middle school and not a federal court, and told Stone that his lawyer was unsuccessful in convincing her that his social media posts did not violate her previously-imposed gag order.

Stone’s lawyer argued that his posting on social media did not have an impact on the criminal trial, per BuzzFeed News.

Stone is currently on trial for allegedly lying to Congress and obstructing the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

While Jackson forbade Stone from posting on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook, she did not revoke his bail or remand him to jail. Federal prosecutors did not request that Stone have his bail revoked, only that his social media access be cut, per Politico.

Stone was indicted on charges of lying to Congress earlier this year as part of the Mueller investigation, per The Atlantic. Mueller alleged that stone collaborated with WikiLeaks to obtain emails that would have harmed Hillary Clinton’s run for president.

The Atlantic reported that Stone was charged on seven counts that included witness tampering, making false statements, and obstruction of an official proceeding. He was released on $250,000 bond shortly after his arrest in late January.

Jackson said that Stone could still raise funds for his trial, but the previous gag order that prohibits Stone from speaking about his case in most public forums remains intact in addition to the new ban on all social media posts, according to the BuzzFeed News report.

Politico reports that Stone’s trial is set to begin sometime in November.

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