Washington: An angry US judge issued a gag order on Thursday on Roger Stone after the former adviser to Donald Trump posted a picture of her on Instagram with crosshairs in the background.
Stone, 66, is charged with lying to Congress, witness tampering and obstruction stemming from his contacts with WikiLeaks, which published Russian-hacked communications from Democrat Hillary Clinton’s camp during the 2016 election campaign.
Stone has pleaded not guilty to the charges, which resulted from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether the president’s campaign colluded with Russia.
Stone was ordered to appear in court by US District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson after he posted the inflammatory picture of her on his Instagram account several days ago.
A caption accompanying the image said Jackson was an “Obama appointed Judge who dismissed the Benghazi charges again(st) Hillary Clinton and incarcerated Paul Manafort prior to his conviction for any crime.”
During Thursday’s hearing, Stone apologized to the judge for what he called a “stupid lack of judgment” and appeared to blame an unnamed assistant for the offensive Instagram post.
“I am kicking myself for my own stupidity, but not more than my wife is kicking me,” he said.
Jackson was having none of it and after saying his apology rings “quite hollow” she ordered him not to communicate publicly about the case anymore.
Jackson told him she was giving him a “second chance” but warned that he would not get another and could face prison time if he violates the gag order.
Stone left court without speaking to reporters.
Jackson had imposed a partial gag order on Stone last week, telling him not to speak to the media or make public statements around the courthouse or in its immediate vicinity.
Stone’s court appearances have been rowdy affairs featuring supporters and opponents and a large media contingent.
Stone pleaded not guilty in federal court in Washington last month to the seven charges against him. He is the sixth campaign associate of Trump indicted by Mueller’s team.
Trump has repeatedly denied any collusion with Moscow and denounced the probe by Mueller, a former FBI director, as a “political witch hunt.”
Stone, who launched his career as a campaign aide to Richard Nixon and has a tattoo on his back of the first US president to resign from office, has spent decades advising Republican political campaigns.
His association with Trump dates back to 1979, and he was one of the first to enlist when the billionaire real estate magnate launched his run for the presidency in 2015.
Stone left the campaign months later but the indictment shows he remained in active communication with Trump’s team, providing support and information.
Mueller’s office has indicted a total of 34 people — including Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager — but so far, no charges of outright collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow have been filed.