Under gag order, Roger Stone still talking -- cautiously

Trump adviser, commentator awaiting trial

By Sara Murray, Katelyn Polantz and Andrew Kaczynski, CNN
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Roger Stone

(CNN) - On his recent court-approved tour through Florida, Roger Stone fielded questions about the raid on his home, the media coverage of his case and the plight of his former business partner and 2016 Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort -- all while trying not to obviously run afoul of his gag order.

"As I'm sure you know, there are some topics that I can talk about and there are some topics that I am prevented from speaking about," the longtime adviser to President Donald Trump told a crowd at The Villages retirement community earlier this month.

That hasn't stopped audience members and media personalities from asking, though. In the two months since a judge told Stone he could say nothing about his case, special counsel Robert Mueller or the court anywhere, or even through surrogates, the political commentator and operative has been tested, online and in person.

On Facebook, he is continuing to spread inflammatory stories about his criminal case -- with no further commentary. In person, he is saying he wishes he could say more.

"I can only address this in a limited way," Stone began, when asked by an audience member at The Villages event about his predawn arrest in January. When another attendee asked about CNN's exclusive video of Stone's arrest, Stone offered a brief response, calling it "disconcerting" and concluding with "uh, beyond that, uh, I don't want to comment."

As reported at the time, CNN's presence for the January FBI raid of Stone's home was the product of journalistic instincts, some key clues, more than a year of observing comings at the DC federal courthouse and the special counsel's office -- and a little luck on the timing.

Such is the delicate balance of Stone's pre-trial, post-gag order life.

Stone has pleaded not guilty to charges of making false statements, obstruction and witness tampering. After Stone posted a photo of Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who is overseeing his case, on Instagram with a set of crosshairs over her shoulder, she barred him from talking about the case publicly. He is only allowed to claim his innocence and raise money for his legal defense, the judge said. He is set to go to trial in November.

Not one to shy away from the limelight, Stone has continued to make the media rounds and make liberal use of the judge's decision to allow him to speak publicly about subjects other than his case.

He has offered his view of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidate field and cheered along Trump's chances of re-election. But he has also been quick to share his personal plight and ask for a check.

Stone often informs audiences that he and his wife have downsized from the Florida home that was raided to a one-bedroom apartment. He is still hawking signed rocks dubbed "Roger" stones.

In a recent speech, Stone joked, "This is an exact replica of the stone that little David used to take down Goliath."

Stone is also soliciting donations to his legal defense fund, even openly complaining that broadcaster and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones hasn't donated substantially.

Still, Stone is clearly peeved by the limitations placed on him.

"I am no longer allowed to discuss the topics people used to pay me to speak about," Stone recently lamented in a piece for The Spectator magazine.

Stone said that despite previously telling a judge in February that a gag order banning him from speaking about the case would not affect his ability to make a living.

"I'm about to go from being one of the greatest interviews of all time to being one of the most boring," Stone joked in a mid-April interview on SiriusXM's "Jim Norton & Sam Roberts" show.

During the interview, one of the hosts asked about the data Stone and his attorneys are sifting through as they prepare for trial.

"Do they bury you in paperwork because they're hiding the little few things they might think they have?" the host asked. "Like they might not have much so what they do is they'll give you 10,000 pages to go through because there's three pages that they actually hinge their case on?"

Stone replied, "I didn't say that. You did."

"Okay, I'm picking up what you're putting down," one of the hosts said.

In another interview, the host of The Mancow Podcast exclaimed, "Well, wait a minute, the Mueller report came out and President Trump's been vindicated, so certainly that means there's nothing to see involving you. So shouldn't this thing be over for you as well?"

"I wish that I was able to comment on that," Stone said.

 

Facebook sharing

 

When it comes to the Instagram account that got Stone into trouble with the judge in the first place, Stone has become more measured. But he is still prolific on social media, sharing commentary across dozens of Facebook groups and potentially testing the limits of his gag order.

"No statements about the case during interviews on TV, on the radio, with print reporters or on internet-based media. No press releases or press conferences. No blogs or letters to the editor. No posts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat or any other form of social media," Jackson said in February when she instituted the gag order prohibiting Stone from talking about the case. "You apparently need clear boundaries, so there they are."

A day later, Stone shared a post in a Facebook group about the raid on his home, which said, "The Police State raid on Roger Stone is a shocking abuse of power."

Stone later shared a Gateway Pundit post about Jackson in another Facebook group. It was titled: "HOAXED: Media Falsely Claims Stone Shared Image of Corrupt Judge Amy Berman Jackson In Crosshairs." This post came about a month after Stone apologized in court and under oath for sharing the image of Jackson. Those these posts came after Stone's gag order was imposed, the group's rules require moderator approval for posts, but it is unclear when Stone submitted them.

Stone also shared -- in 39 Facebook groups -- a post about CNN being present for the FBI raid on his home.

Elsewhere on Facebook, Stone is often sharing posts with conservative message boards, like a YouTube interview he did this week. And he's still listed as one of three moderators on a Facebook group of his supporters, that says in its description he is being "unjustly targeted by Robert Mueller and his team of rabid anti-Trump crusaders."

At the same time, Stone still has a paperback book for sale with a new introduction criticizing Mueller. The book's promotion in February caused the judge to question it in light of the gag order. Jackson asked for more information about the book's release last month. Prosecutors were keen to show the judge more details, but she hasn't fully weighed in with her view of the book release.

"I expect compliance" with the gag order, Jackson told him at his last court hearing in mid-March.

Despite his current constraints, Stone is clearly keeping busy.

"The best thing about this pretrial period is that I am back in the gym," Stone wrote in The Spectator piece. "By the November trial, I will be in the best condition of my life."

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