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Judge warns Roger Stone not to treat trial like a ‘public relations campaign’ as she considers gag order

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A U.S. judge said on Friday she is considering imposing a gag order on President Donald Trump’s longtime adviser Roger Stone, who has spoken numerous times to news organizations in the week since he was charged by Special Counsel Robert Mueller in the ongoing Russia investigation.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson said during a hearing in Washington she is considering a gag order on both Stone and the prosecution. The judge cited a number of “extrajudicial statements by the defendant” and noted that “this is a criminal proceeding and not a public relations campaign.”

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Stone was charged with making false statements to Congress, obstruction of an official proceeding and witness tampering in an indictment secured by Mueller, who is investigating Russia’s role in the 2016 U.S. election and whether Trump’s campaign conspired with Moscow.

Jackson said if she did impose a gag order, Stone would still be able to talk to the media about issues unrelated to Muller’s criminal case against him. The judge gave both sides until Feb. 8 to file briefs on whether they would oppose such an order.

Stone can “discuss foreign relations, immigration or Tom Brady as much as he wants to,” the judge said, referring to the star New England Patriots quarterback.

Arrested in Florida on Jan. 25, Stone pleaded not guilty on Tuesday in Washington.

Jackson previously imposed a similar gag order on Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who was convicted by a Virginia jury last year of financial wrongdoing charges brought by Mueller and pleaded guilty to other charges in Washington.

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Criminal defendants typically shun the media spotlight. But Stone, a 66-year-old self-proclaimed “dirty trickster” and Republican political operative since the days of the Watergate scandal that forced his former boss President Richard Nixon to resign in 1974, has embraced it since his arrest.

The indictment accused Stone of telling unidentified members of Trump’s 2016 campaign team that he had advance knowledge of plans by the WikiLeaks website to release damaging emails about Trump’s Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.

Stone lied to Congress about those interactions and misled the congressional panel about his efforts to learn more about WikiLeaks’ planned releases, the indictment said.

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On Thursday, Stone dismissed the charges as mere “process crimes” that did not involve any intentional lies, and called Mueller’s probe politically motivated.

“Perjury requires both intent and materiality,” Stone told Reuters in an interview, adding that any failure to disclose emails or text messages was just an “honest mistake.”

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“I testified truthfully on any matter of importance,” he said.

Stone is the 34th person to be swept up into Mueller’s probe into whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia. Trump denies any collusion and has called Mueller’s investigation a witch hunt. Russia denies meddling in the election.

Stone said he did not even know for sure which Trump campaign officials were being referenced in the indictment and that he was never directed by the campaign to learn about future releases by WikiLeaks.

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The Stone’s indictment refers to two people with whom he is accused of communicating in an effort to get more information about Wikileaks’ plans for future releases of hacked Democratic emails. Jerome Corsi, a right-wing political commentator and conspiracy theorist, previously confirmed to Reuters he is “Person 1” referenced in the indictment.

“I’m sorry Roger has been talking like he has been. I don’t have anything against Roger. He’d be well advised to be more careful,” Corsi told Reuters “… I wish Roger would just say less.”

(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Additional reporting by Nathan Layne; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Will Dunham)


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New Zealand may postpone general election after 4 test positive for COVID-19: PM Jacinda Ardern

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New Zealand locked down nursing homes nationwide Wednesday after a 102-day streak without the coronavirus ended, as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the outbreak could force her to postpone next month's general election.

Ardern said authorities were scrambling to trace anyone who had been in contact with four Auckland residents who tested positive Tuesday, ending the dream run in which the virus had been contained at New Zealand's borders.

A three-day stay-at-home order for Auckland, New Zealand's biggest city with a population of 1.5 million, was announced on Tuesday night and went into force at lunchtime on Wednesday.

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Android phones to get ‘ShakeAlert’ earthquake warnings — and phones may double as tremor detectors

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Android phones will receive warnings triggered by a "ShakeAlert" earthquake early-warning system implemented on the West Coast by the US Geological Survey and partners.

ShakeAlert uses signals from hundreds of seismometers across the state to trigger warning messages that "an earthquake has begun and shaking is imminent," according to the system's website.

"We saw an opportunity to use Android to provide people with timely, helpful earthquake information when they search, as well as a few seconds warning to get themselves and their loved ones to safety if needed," principal software engineer Marc Stogaitis said in a blog post.

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2020 Election

‘Don’t talk about racism, racist’: Trump scorched after claiming Biden-Harris campaign has a ‘racism problem’

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President Donald Trump continued to lash out at Kamala Harris after the California Democrat was chosen to join the 2020 Democratic Party ticket as presumptive nominee Joe Biden's running mate.

At a news conference following the selection, Trump complained about Harris being "nasty."

After 10 p.m. on Monday, Trump tweeted out an attack ad claiming "Joe Biden has a racism problem."

Here's some of what people were saying about Trump's line of attack:

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