Judge imposes gag order on Trump confidant Stone

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Judge Amy Berman Jackson ordered Stone to appear in court Thursday to explain his now-deleted Instagram post which was critical of her. "Stone could not even keep his story straight on the stand, much less from one day to another", she said, her voice dripping with sarcasm. She noted that Stone, who enjoyed a lucrative career as a political consultant, "fully understands the power of words and the power of symbols". "There will not be a third chance". This is just a stupid lapse in judgment...

Jackson asked Stone. "How hard was it to come up with a photograph that didn't have crosshairs in the corner?"

Not surprisingly, the judge on Thursday said his apology rang hollow. "I gave you a second chance". He said he did not know who the person was.

The 66-year-old Stone said the image had been selected by a volunteer who was working for him, though he couldn't say who picked the photo or list the five or six volunteers who have been working for him when he was asked by prosecutors. But as people pointed out how grossly inappropriate the picture was, Stone first reposted a modified version that removed the crosshairs, and then took the image down altogether and filed a formal apology with the court.

Jackson brought printouts of the posts into court Thursday.

The media gag order did not explicitly bar Stone from speaking publicly about the case as long as he was not on courthouse grounds. One of the terms following his arrest is that he can not attempt to intimidate others, including judges and other officers of the court.

She rejected his claim that the image was not meant to be threatening.

Stone has been placed under a limited gag order during his criminal trial.

"(I) abused the order, for which I am heartfully sorry", Stone added.

"I am kicking myself for my own stupidity, but not more than my wife is kicking me", he said. "I did post it", Stone replied.

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Stone is represented by Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based attorneys Bruce Rogow, Grant Smith of StrategySmith, and Robert Buschel of Buschel & Gibbons.

Jackson responded: "I agree with you there". But as soon as Jackson jumped in to question Stone, he began to contradict his explanations for the post and for his remorse.

Jackson has been down this road before.

While Jackson expanded the gag order, she did not revoke bail.

Jackson oversaw the cases of Manafort, Trump's former campaign manager, and his right-hand man, Rick Gates. He was arrested last month and has remained free on a $250,000 personal recognizance bond.

She promised to throw him behind bars if he violates the court order in any way.

Stone, who launched his career as a campaign aide to Richard Nixon and has a tattoo on his back of the first U.S. president to resign from office, has spent decades advising Republican political campaigns.

Since then, Stone has made the rounds of television new shows to belittle the charges and the case against him that were brought by special counsel Robert Mueller, part of his 21-month investigation into Trump campaign links to Russian Federation and whether Trump, as president, obstructed justice by trying to thwart the probe. He also faces charges of obstruction of an official proceeding and witness tampering.

Stone has repeatedly denied any contact with Russian Federation or WikiLeaks.

The Trump ally pleaded not guilty to all charges.

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