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US judge faults ex-Trump adviser Stone’s book that may violate gag order

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A federal judge said Tuesday that the publication of a book last month by President Donald Trump’s former political adviser Roger Stone which criticized Special Counsel Robert Mueller may violate a media gag order – a transgression that could land the self-proclaimed “dirty trickster” behind bars.

Judge Amy Berman Jackson for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ordered Stone and his lawyers to provide her with a report by Monday explaining how he plans to comply with the order, and also demanded that he turn over certain records detailing everything he knew about the book’s release.

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“There is no question that the order prohibited and continues to prohibit the defendant from making any public statements, using any medium, concerning the investigation,” Jackson wrote.

“It does not matter when the defendant may have first formulated the opinions expressed, or when he first put them into words: he may no longer share his views on these particular subjects with the world.”

Stone, a longtime Republican operative, is the 34th person to face charges as part of Mueller’s investigation into whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia.

He has pleaded not guilty to seven counts of obstruction, witness tampering and making false statements.

Trump has denied any collusion with Russia occurred and called Mueller’s probe a witch hunt.

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Shortly after Stone was charged, Jackson gave him wide latitude to discuss the case against him as long as it was not in the vicinity of the federal courthouse.

But just days later, she tightened the reins with a sweeping gag order after Stone posted a photo of her on his Instagram account next to an image resembling the crosshairs of a gun and a message critical of both her and Mueller.

In issuing her gag order on Feb. 21, Jackson warned Stone he would not have a second chance if he violated it. She also said his apologies about the posting, which was later removed, rang hollow.

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After the gag order, Jackson learned that a 2017 book by Stone originally titled “The Making of the President 2016” had been re-published under the name “The Myth of Russian Collusion” and that it criticized Mueller in its introduction.

In addition, Stone also in March posted an item on Instagram that said “Who framed Roger Stone.” It was later removed.

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Stone’s lawyers have said the book does not violate the gag order because it came out on Feb. 19, before the order was issued.

But Jackson blasted them for failing to disclose it to her when they had the chance, and said Stone must provide her with records including communications with the publisher, information on the publication of the book and other details related to his Instagram posts.

Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Alistair Bell

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