Block on Trump's Asylum Ban Upheld by Supreme Court
Roger Stone, the embroiled political consultant, sent the wrong message to a federal judge.
Stone posted an Instagram message that showed a picture of Judge Amy Berman Jackson with a target-like image behind her. He realized his misstep, however, and quickly apologized to the judge.
It was a good thing he apologized because the judge is presiding over Stone's criminal case. It could also be too little, too late.
Stone is facing charges he obstructed justice and lied to Congress. Special counsel Robert Mueller charged him about his contacts with Wikileaks, which released damaging emails about Hillary Clinton before the 2016 presidential election.
He has been free pending trial, but Jackson could change all that. She had previously warned him not to make public statements that "pose a substantial likelihood of material prejudice to the case."
In the Instagram post, which Stone took down but social media captured, Stone suggested that the judge was part of a "legal trickery Deep State." He pointed out that Jackson was an Obama appointee who dismissed Benghazi charges against Clinton and jailed Paul Manafort, Donald Trump's former campaign manager.
Jackson ordered Stone to appear in court and explain why his pretrial release shouldn't be modified or revoked. She could also impose a more restrictive gag order.
Restrictive Gag Order
Stone has denied the criminal charges, and says his social media message was misinterpreted. He used it to raise money for his defense.
After taking down the Jackson post, Stone explained on Instagram that it was a "random photo." He said it was taken from the internet.
"Any inference that this was meant to somehow threaten the Judge or disrespect the court is categorically false," he said.
Ken White, a former federal prosecutor, commented on Stone's behavior for the Atlantic. He declined to predict how the judge will rule, but said it will have "significant First Amendment implications."