WASHINGTON – Roger Stone wants back on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and every other social media platform from which he was banished last month by his future trial judge. He has turned to a U.S. appeals court for help.
In papers filed with the Washington-based panel on Monday, the occasional adviser to President Donald Trump says the ban imposed by U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson violates his free-speech rights.
And not just his rights, but those of his wife, Nydia Bertran Stone, step-daughter and other members of his family, he said.
“It is based on no evidence, or suggestions of evidence, that there is any likelihood of material prejudice to this case, or any threat to the integrity of the jury pool or a fair trial,” Stone said in the filing.
Stone is charged with lying to Congress about his communications with WikiLeaks and obstructing lawmakers’ probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, including its DNC hack. His trial is scheduled for November.
Jackson banned him from using social media on July 16, after federal prosecutors claimed he had breached a prior order prohibiting him from criticizing the case against him or special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation that led to his indictment.
She also barred his family members and other people from acting as his proxies.
Before the total ban, Stone had been allowed to use social media to declare his innocence and solicit funds for his legal defense.
It was at least the third time Stone had been called before the judge to explain comments he made about the case. While Jackson choked off his social media access to avoid tainting the pool of potential jurors, she declined to convene a formal contempt hearing, stating that such a proceeding would likely be counterproductive.
The judge’s order, and those that led up to it, are tantamount to a gag order in retaliation for his earlier actions, according to Stone’s attorneys.
“There is no dispute that the court’s decision to restrict Stone’s speech was prompted by the posting of a picture of the judge which, to the side, contained a symbol resembling a target,” according to the Monday filing. “That prompted an immediate apology to the court, but the court’s confidence in Roger Stone was undermined.”