One week after Roger Stone’s arrest and indictment, a federal judge in Washington, D.C., on Friday warned she may impose a gag order on the veteran GOP operative with close ties to President Donald Trump, but said she has not yet made a decision.
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The pre-trial proceeding should not be a “public relations campaign,” Judge Amy Berman Jackson said, adding that she’s worried that Stone treating the pre-trial process “like a book tour” could taint a potential jury at a future trial.
She gave Stone and the government until Feb. 8 to submit arguments about whether she should impose a gag order.
Stone was taken into custody last Friday and charged with seven counts of lying to Congress, obstruction of justice, and witness tampering by special counsel Robert Mueller as part of an ongoing investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
Stone pleaded not guilty earlier this week and vowed to fight charges. If found guilty, he could face up to 20 years in prison.
Since then, Stone has been on a media blitz, making a number of appearances on television, amiably talking for the cameras outside his home, at an airport baggage claim, on the courthouse steps, and at a hotel ballroom.
The judge acknowledged what she called Stone’s legitimate interest in exerting his First Amendment rights, but said she wanted to balance that with his right to a fair trial.
Jackson said it was her obligation to make sure he gets one and warned that Stone’s public statements about the case could be used against him. She said she would prefer both parties “do their talking in the courtroom.”
If she does issue a gag order, Stone would no longer be allowed to speak with reporters about his case, nor would prosecutors or any of the other parties.
But the judge said they could talk about everything else.
“Parties can discuss foreign relations, immigration or Tom Brady,” Jackson said.
Addressing the media on Thursday, Stone suggested that his legal team might explore options to fight a gag order, though he neglected to give details on any specific measures he and his legal team might be considering.
“That’s certainly a possibility,” Stone said when asked whether he would dispute a gag order. “We will deal with that as it comes.”