Roger Stone defends his use of social media to court

Posted at 5:32 PM, Jun 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-27 19:48:06-04

Roger Stone is defending his use of social media against accusations by prosecutors that the conservative political operative broke his gag order in his criminal case.

The prosecutors’ request of the judge to find that Stone has violated his gag order, which could put him in jail awaiting trial, “is a disproportionate response to Roger Stone’s exercise of his First Amendment rights,” Stone’s attorneys said in a court filing Thursday.

Stone’s attorneys say that his recent posts on Instagram that reference his court case wouldn’t prejudice a jury, before launching into an attack of mainstream media coverage of his case.

They point out the “tens of thousands of hostile-to-Stone articles which have been authored by others,” such as news coverage in outlets like the Washington Post, as well as an impersonation by comedian Steve Martin on Saturday Night Live and other celebrity portrayals of Stone in recent months that could slant a jury against him even more so than his social media activity.

“His lonely voice presents no threat to a fair trial under this court’s supervision,” his attorneys write. “Of more concern should be The Washington Post’s unrelenting coverage of Roger Stone. “

His argument Thursday comes about a week after prosecutors told the judge he breached his gag order with posts on social media. The prosecutors showed the judge screenshots of Instagram posts where Stone had shared stories attacking the Mueller investigation and commented that major media outlets should cover the unsubstantiated conspiracy theories, some of which Stone’s lawyers have relied on in their arguments in court.

Stone could end up behind bars awaiting his November trial because of the posts. The judge, Amy Berman Jackson of the federal court in Washington, hasn’t yet said what she will do in response to the prosecutors’ latest accusation.

But Stone already got several firm warnings from Jackson not to speak publicly about his case and cautioning him that she could revoke his bail, which allows him to live at home in Florida.

Following his indictment in late January, Stone begged for the ability to keep speaking publicly about politics. Jackson restricted some speech about the case, such as comments from his lawyers and press conferences around the courthouse. Shortly after, he posted on Instagram her photo with crosshairs behind her head.

She called him into court. Though he tried to defend himself on the stand and apologized, Jackson told Stone he could not make any public comments online, in person, to the media or through intermediaries about the case, the Mueller investigation or the court. He was only allowed to ask for donations to his legal defense fund and maintain his innocence.