It looks like Roger Stone is at it again.
On Monday, Stone, the political trickster and longtime associate of Donald Trump, posted an inflammatory photo of the judge presiding over his criminal case on Instagram. He later deleted the post and apologized to the court after a firestorm of criticism.
But that apology might not be enough. Judge Amy Berman Jackson — the DC federal judge overseeing Stone’s case and the subject of the Instagram post — has ordered Stone to return to court for a hearing on Thursday about the social media post and whether it affects the terms of his release or his ability to talk about the case. On Friday, Jackson had placed a limited gag order on Stone, directing him to curb his comments outside of the DC federal courthouse where his case is being tried.
Stone, who’s been charged with making false statements, witness tampering, and obstruction in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, has a very active Instagram account where he frequently attacks the Russia probe and promotes his innocence.
A photo was posted Monday to his account of Judge Jackson with an image of crosshairs behind her, ostensibly framing her as a target.
“Through legal trickery Deep State hitman Robert Mueller has guaranteed my upcoming show trial is before Judge Amy Berman Jackson, an Obama appointed judge who dismissed the Benghazi charges again [sic] Hillary Clinton and incarcerated Paul Manafort prior to his conviction of any crime,” read the caption. It included a plea for donations to Stone’s legal defense fund.
In his latest Instagram post, Roger Stone attacks Judge Amy Berman Jackson, the federal judge overseeing his case.— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) February 18, 2019
There is a crosshair in the upper left corner of the picture. pic.twitter.com/tbjLI0S81c
Stone told the Washington Post that the photo had been posted by a “volunteer” at his direction. Stone later deleted the post, saying that the photo, randomly taken from the internet, had been “misinterpreted.”
“Any inference that this was meant to somehow threaten the Judge or disrespect the court is categorically false,” he wrote.
As for the crosshairs logo, Stone claimed that the site where he took the photo uses this as its logo in many images. According to CNN, the photo came from a conspiracy theory website that had similar photos of Hillary Clinton and other targets of the right wing.
Stone also submitted a formal apology to the court, calling the photograph “improper” and conceding that it should not have been posted. “I had no intention of disrespecting the Court and humbly apologize to the Court for the transgression,” he said.
A formal apology from Roger Stone filed in court this evening. Stone seems to recognize how much trouble he got himself into by attacking the judge in his case on Instagram. pic.twitter.com/tWQUMSbqu2— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) February 19, 2019
But he may have pressed his luck too far.
Jackson had issued a limited gag order against Stone on Friday that restricted his speech outside the DC federal courthouse but otherwise allowed him to keep commenting publicly about the case. (Jackson also put additional restrictions on Stone’s attorneys and witnesses in the case barring “prejudicial statements” to the public or the media.)
The judge also warned that the gag order could change. After Monday’s debacle, Jackson scheduled a hearing for Thursday for Stone to argue why the gag order against him and potentially the terms of Stone’s release “should not be modified or revoked in light of the posts on his Instagram account on or about February 18, 2019.”
Oh boy. Judge Amy Berman Jackson doesn't seem happy with Roger Stone. pic.twitter.com/jCS7QJ2X2T— Natasha Bertrand (@NatashaBertrand) February 19, 2019
Stone didn’t want Jackson presiding over his case
Stone was indicted in January for making false statements to the House Intelligence Committee in 2017 about his contacts and statements regarding his efforts to reach out to WikiLeaks during the 2016 campaign. He was also charged with obstruction and threatening a witness in the case.
Judge Jackson was assigned to Stone’s case, but in February, Stone and his attorneys filed a motion to have his case transferred to a different judge.
But Jackson didn’t just get Stone’s case randomly. Mueller designated Stone’s charges as “related” to another case on Jackson’s docket — specifically, the Mueller indictment of 12 Russian military intelligence officers who were accused of hacking Democratic emails during the 2016 election.
As Vox’s Andrew Prokop explains:
Mueller’s team said this case is related to Stone’s for two reasons: first, that certain “stolen documents” are a topic in both cases, and second, that warrants used in the Russian hacker case surfaced “certain evidence that is relevant” to Stone’s case.
Stone’s lawyers fought this designation, basically arguing the cases weren’t connected and that another judge should be randomly assigned to oversee Stone’s indictment. Stone’s lawyers argued that “at first blush and without the benefit of discovery,” nothing suggested that the cases were related.
Mueller is arguing, however, that they are connected — and the judge agreed. Jackson ruled Friday that she would keep the case, and Stone’s Instagram post looked like a clear attempt to protest or cast doubt on that decision.
Jackson has also presided over other cases related to Mueller’s probe, specifically matters involving Trump’s former campaign chair Paul Manafort. Jackson ruled last week that Manafort had lied to prosecutors in violation of his cooperation agreement, and she’ll take that deception into consideration when sentencing him for his crimes on March 13.
Jackson is also the same judge who remanded Manafort to jail in June after she found that he had attempted to tamper with witnesses ahead of his trial, in violation of the terms of his release.
Now Jackson will decide whether Stone’s photo violated her orders in his criminal case — and what comes next for Stone.