WASHINGTON – Roger Stone narrowly avoided going to jail or losing his $250,000 bail bond after a federal judge ruled this week that he violated the terms of a gag order issued against him during his criminal case. But nonetheless, Stone – a famed political consultant, author, lobbyist and strategist – is being forced to endure punishment of a different sort- a total ban from all social media.
Judge Amy Berman Jackson admonished Stone during a hearing held in Washington, D.C., noting a series of Instagram posts that she claimed violated an order imposed upon Stone not to speak in public about his ongoing case related to the Robert Mueller investigation into Russian interference into the 2016 presidential election.
Stone was arrested by FBI agents at his Florida home on January 25, 2019, and charged with obstruction, making false statements to prosecutors, and witness tampering. Stone has pleaded not guilty.
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Jackson forbade Stone, 66, a longtime friend of President Trump who served as a consultant for his 2016 election campaign, from posting on any social media websites, including Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Previously Stone was only banned from posting about his case on social media.
Despite greatly increasing the severity of the gag order – originally imposed to avoid prejudicing potential jurors following a Stone media blitz – Jackson nonetheless stopped short of revoking Stone’s bail, which would have seen him jailed pending his upcoming trial, scheduled for November.
Stone’s lawyers argued that while Stone was indeed making public comments about the case against him on social media, he did so in a manner that would not have affected the case in any way. In addition, they decried the fairness of Stone being preventing from making any public statements on the case in the face of numerous articles which are considered “hostile” to Stone in the media.