WASHINGTON – Roger Stone is in trouble again with the judge handling his criminal case, this time for a newly released book he wrote calling special counsel Robert Mueller "crooked" — which he only recently brought to the judge's attention.
Stone's lawyers filed a sealed document on Friday alerting US District Judge Amy Berman Jackson that Stone's book was coming out and that part of it might violate the Feb. 21 gag order she imposed on Stone, if he'd written it after her order took effect. But, they contend, Stone submitted the section at issue to his publisher in January, and they're asking the judge to clarify that the book doesn't violate her order.
The book isn't new. It's a rerelease of a book that Stone, a longtime adviser to President Donald Trump, published in 2017 about the 2016 election. The new version features a new title — he renamed it from The Making of the President 2016 to The Myth of Russian Collusion — and a new introduction, which is dated January 2019. In that introduction, Stone refers to Mueller as "Crooked Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller," and claims he was on Mueller's "hit list" because he'd served as a longtime adviser to Trump.
"I am being targeted not because I committed a crime, but because the Deep State liberals want to silence me and pressure me to testify against my good friend," Stone wrote.
In a redacted version of Stone's Friday filing that was made public on Monday, Stone's lawyers blacked out a description of the part of the book at issue, but prosecutors filed a notice with the court on Monday confirming that it's the new introduction that Stone wrote. Prosecutors also noted that Stone's book is available online — a copy of the introduction is accessible via the preview function on Amazon's website.
The government also alerted the judge to a now-deleted Instagram post that Stone put up over the weekend with a photo of himself and the text, "Who Framed Roger Stone," a nod to the movie Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Prosecutors also included a link to a news article about the post speculating whether it might violate Jackson's gag order.
Jackson's order prohibits Stone from making public comments, including via social media, "about the Special Counsel's investigation or this case or any of the participants in the investigation or the case." The judge specified that Stone could proclaim his innocence and ask for donations for his legal defense fund, but that was it.
In an Instagram post on Feb. 18, three days before Jackson entered the gag order, Stone promoted the upcoming rerelease, posting a photo of the book cover, which says that the latest version includes "an explosive new introduction." Stone's lawyers wrote that the introduction "could have contravened the Court's Order" if it was written after Feb. 21, but they said it was all written before; Stone submitted the draft and went through edits in mid-January, they said.
On Friday night, Jackson ordered Stone to clarify when the book would be released and why it wasn't brought to her attention sooner. She quoted one of Stone's lawyers during a Feb. 21 hearing when they outlined what they thought a gag order should say: "[Stone] should not be talking about this Court. He should not be talking about the special prosecutor. ... There are a lot of reasons why somebody may feel like they should be talking about things like that. But you and I know, as officers of the court ... this is not appropriate. And that, if we're going to have an order, that's what I ask the Court to do."
On Monday, Stone's lawyers filed a response saying they didn't bring the book up at the Feb. 21 hearing because, at that point, there was no significant limit on Stone's public speech; the judge previously had only barred Stone from talking to the media outside the federal courthouse in Washington, DC. Addressing a book that Stone had already written and that he didn't have control over — the publisher was in charge of printing and distribution — wasn't relevant to the "forward-looking" focus of that hearing, his lawyers wrote.
Stone's Instagram post said the book would be in stores March, but it's been on sale since early February and has sold 96 copies as of Feb. 16, according to a declaration from Stone's publisher that Stone's lawyers also filed with the court.
Stone is charged with lying to Congress about his contacts with WikiLeaks during the 2016 election and trying to tamper with witnesses. He faces one count of obstructing Congress, five counts of making false statements to Congress, and one count of witness tampering. He faces up to 20 years in prison on the tampering count and up to five years in prison for each of the other charges.
In the book's new introduction, Stone addresses his testimony to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence about the hack of the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 campaign and the subsequent release of stolen emails via WikiLeaks. Stone wrote in the introduction that he had asked for his testimony to be public "so that the American people could judge my veracity and see the partisan nature of my inquisitors and their trick questions, but this request was denied."
A group of Russian nationals have been charged by Mueller's office with orchestrating the hack. Stone again denied that he knew the source of the stolen DNC emails or that he knew about WikiLeaks's plan to release them.
"All of this has been a most extraordinary personal nightmare as Mueller has investigated me for over two years, probing deeply into every aspect of my personal, private, family, business, and political life," Stone wrote. "According to CNN, Mueller has reviewed all of my personal financial records, and there is substantial evidence that all of my emails, text messages, and phone calls have been reviewed by the special counsel."
"Historians will one day write about these dark days in which America's ruling elite conspired to create the biggest witch hunt in our country's history," Stone wrote.