But he may not have much longer to do so. Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who will oversee Stone’s case in US District Court, suggested she was considering imposing a gag order — which would limit Stone’s ability to speak publicly about the case outside of court.
Jackson made the statements at her first status conference for the Stone case Friday afternoon. She remarked that the case had already amassed a great deal of public attention, “fueled in large part by extrajudicial statements of the defendant himself.” But, she said, “this is a criminal proceeding, not a public relations campaign.”
She said she respected Stone’s First Amendment rights to free speech — but said he had also decided to exercise his right to a fair trial, that it’s her responsibility to make that happen, and that treating pretrial publicity “like a book tour” could impede that by making it harder to seat an impartial jury.
Jackson stressed that any such order would apply to all parties in the case, not just Stone. (She imposed a similar order after Paul Manafort was indicted in Washington, DC, in late 2017.) She also said the order would only apply to public statements “that could have prejudicial impact on this case” — and said Stone would remain free to opine publicly on other topics, from foreign relations to “Tom Brady.”
The judge said she would offer both sides the opportunity to offer their views on such an order in writing, before makes up her mind. Those filings are due on Friday of next week.
Mueller has indicted Stone on seven counts of obstruction of justice, making false statements, and witness tampering. The charges allege that Stone attempted to obstruct congressional investigations into Russian interference with the 2016 election. Mueller says Stone did this by withholding evidence, lying, and by pressuring a witness not to testify about potential links between Stone and WikiLeaks.
Stone has insisted in television and radio interviews, as well as on his Instagram feed, that he is innocent and being “framed” by Mueller.