WASHINGTON — Attorneys for Roger Stone told a federal judge Monday that it “did not occur” to them to notify her about the publication of a book that appears to violate a gag order on the Republican operative and longtime friend of President Donald Trump, because they said the work appeared two days before the gag order was issued.
Stone attacks special counsel Robert Mueller as “crooked” and accuses “Deep State liberals” of seeking to silence him in an updated introduction to his book about Trump’s 2016 campaign, retitled “The Myth of Russian Collusion.”
Stone was put under a gag order Feb. 21 by U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, and Stone attorneys led by Bruce Rogow told the Washington-based judge that “not a single word of the book was created” after that date.
Rogow urged Jackson not to find Stone in violation, because he could not have known about prohibitions not yet in place.
The updated version was sent to hundreds of retailers in January for re-release and published online Feb. 19, his lawyers said in a court filing unsealed Monday. Although a social media posting on a Stone account said the publication date was coming March 1, and despite a filing from his attorneys Friday about an “imminent” book release, the actual publication date was Feb. 19, his lawyers said Monday.
Stone, 66, is accused of lying to Congress and obstructing justice to cover up his efforts to gather information concerning hacked Democratic Party emails during the 2016 presidential campaign. He has pleaded not guilty.
Jackson had ordered Stone’s defense attorneys to explain why they did not mention a book whose existence, the judge noted, “was known to the defendant.”
Jackson said Stone’s attorneys could have told the court about the book at several points in February: in a Feb. 8 court filing opposing the gag order, after Jackson on Feb. 19 called Stone to court within a week to explain why his Instagram account posted an image that court security officials said appeared to place a gun-sight crosshairs next to a photo of Jackson’s face or at the Feb. 21 hearing on the gag order to limit prejudicial pretrial publicity in the case.
Stone announced via Instagram on Jan. 16 that he would be publishing a book titled “The Myth of Russian Collusion: The Inside Story of How Donald Trump Really Won.” Publishers received the draft on Jan. 14, and edits were approved the following day, his attorney said.
Stone said Feb. 15 on Instagram that the book would be published March 1, accompanying the post with hashtags such as #noconspiracy and #norussiancollusion.
Stone’s attorneys said Monday that, in fact, Feb. 19 was the “official publication date for the purposes of offering [the book] for sale.” They explained that copies arrived at bookstores as early as the first week of February with no “strict-on-sale date for retailers,” and 96 copies were sold to consumers by Feb. 16.
The book offers no new information about Stone’s version of events, but it contains numerous statements about topics, apparently including the special counsel’s investigation, that the court specifically ordered Stone not to publicly discuss.
In a copy downloaded by The Washington Post, Stone writes: “I now find myself on Crooked Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller’s hit list because I have advised Donald Trump for the past forty years. 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 goes on to allege in the book that “Mueller’s Russian investigation has tried to implicate me by saying I had direct knowledge of plans by WikiLeaks to release information damaging to Hillary Clinton’s campaign.” It says, “There is no evidence whatsoever to support this claim, even after at least twelve of my current and former associates have been browbeaten by the FBI and at least six of them were dragged before Mueller’s grand jury.”
Jackson on Feb. 21 barred Stone from making further comments about the case or Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election, after finding that he was inciting others through his Instagram posts and comments.
Stone apologized for abusing the court’s trust, and he testified that what others took to be crosshairs was a Celtic cross symbol.
Under the gag order, Stone can continue to raise money for his defense and speak on other matters.
U.S. prosecutors also drew attention Monday in a court filing to another item on Stone’s Instagram account. On Sunday, an image posted multiple times in recent months — a takeoff on the poster for the 1988 film “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” altered to include his photo with the text “Who Framed Roger Stone” — was briefly featured in a compilation of scrolling images called Instagram stories.
Stone has been released on an unsecured personal-recognizance bond and is allowed to travel among South Florida, Washington and New York.
He was indicted in January on charges of obstructing justice, lying and witness tampering in what prosecutors said was an effort to hide repeated attempts to get information about plans to release the hacked Democratic emails. By themselves, those attempts may not have constituted a crime, but authorities say Stone lied to Congress when asked about them.