WASHINGTON — Attorneys for Roger Stone apologized Monday for misrepresenting to a federal judge plans about his book criticizing special counsel Robert Mueller, but they said their mistake was unintentional and does not mean the court will be unable to seat an impartial jury in Stone’s criminal trial.
In a seven-page filing and 120 pages of emails and documents submitted at the request of U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson of Washington, attorneys for the Republican operative and longtime friend of President Donald Trump acknowledge that the gaffe could land Stone in jail if the judge finds he violated a gag order in his case barring him from feeding prejudicial pretrial publicity.
But they denied using an erroneous March 1 filing notifying the court of the “imminent release” of the book — after the judge imposed the gag order Feb. 21 — to build publicity for the work, “The Myth of Russian Collusion,” a retitled version of his earlier book about Trump’s 2016 campaign, with a new introduction.
“There was/is no intention to hide anything,” wrote Stone’s attorneys, led by Bruce Rogow of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. “Having been scolded, we seek only to defend Mr. Stone and move ahead without further ado.”
Stone’s defense acknowledged that the March 1 filing referred to the book as an upcoming release, when in fact it had been available online since Feb. 19. Rogow said it was only after the Feb. 21 order that Stone “reminded” his attorneys of the book and “brought the issue home.”
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 and remains free pending trial, but he is under the gag order and has travel limitations.
“We apologize for the confusing representation about publication,” Stone’s attorneys wrote, but they said they continue to believe that “nothing compels the conclusion that the Court’s present expressed confidence in seeking an unbiased jury will, in months hence, be compromised by the press or Mr. Stone as we move forward.”
In the book’s new introduction, Stone attacks Mueller as “crooked” and accuses “Deep State liberals” of seeking to silence him.
Stone had a dispute about his adherence to the gag order in late February, when Jackson kept Rogow standing as she grilled him and Stone about a photo of herself on a Stone Instagram account.
Court security officials said the image appeared to place a gun sight’s crosshairs next to a photo of Jackson’s face. Stone said he wasn’t sure who had posted the image to his account but said he viewed it as a Celtic cross and apologized. Rogow proposed terms of a more robust gag order.
Stone’s attorneys had argued, at a previous hearing on their “imminent” language in a motion, that the book was completed in January. However, Jackson said that the defense hadn’t disclosed Stone’s plans for the book or its online availability at several points in February, while the gag order was being litigated, and that he did not describe any step to delay or withhold its release. She said it was undisputed that the order barred all public statements by Stone about the investigation.
On March 6, she ordered Stone’s defense to explain by Monday how he planned to come into compliance. A previously scheduled status hearing on his case is set for Thursday.
In response to Jackson’s requests, Stone turned over a Dec. 17 contract with his book’s publisher and emails about its release, including ones since the gag order was in place.
In one email, from Feb. 15, Stone wrote his publisher: “Recognize that the judge may issue a gag order any day now and while we will appeal it that could take a while.”
On Feb. 21, after the order was entered, attorney Grant Smith wrote Rogow that the book “will be published march 1. See date below. Need to see if this breaks the order.”
Smith followed up with Tony Lyons at Skyhorse Publishing on Feb. 26. “The mere publication of the new portions of the book could land Roger in jail for contempt of the judge’s order.”
Emails show that Stone was worried about book sales, compensation and the number of copies planned, writing, “There is GLUT of books like this.” He altered the publisher’s proposed subtitle, “The Inside Story of How I REALLY Helped Trump Win,” replying in January, “I could live with — The Myth of Russian Collusion: The Inside Story of How Donald Trump really won,” explaining, “I can’t be seen taking credit for HIS victory.”