Roger Stone argues against gag order, says he’s no Kim Kardashian
Roger Stone is trying a new tactic in arguing against a federal judge who may restrict what he says in public: He’s claiming he’s not much of a celebrity.
Federal Judge Amy Berman Jackson said last week that she’s considering placing a gag order over Stone’s criminal case, which includes allegations of threatening a witness, lying to a congressional committee and obstruction of justice.
Stone, after spending the days since his arrest publicly railing against law enforcement and Jackson herself, pushed back in a court filing Friday. He has pleaded not guilty to the seven criminal charges.
His speech shouldn’t be restricted, because his lifeblood is writing and speaking about politics and fashion, his attorneys say. But while he’s known in some circles, Stone is nowhere near as famous as Kim Kardashian, his attorneys argued. That lack of fame means he will be able to have an unbiased jury when his case goes to trial.
“While Roger Stone may be familiar to those who closely follow American politics, he is hardly ubiquitous in the larger landscape of popular consciousness,” his attorneys wrote.
“An example of how limited and narrow his public presence is, is that Kim Kardashian has 59.5 million followers on Twitter,” they added. Stone, meanwhile, has no Twitter presence (he was banned by the service in 2017). Stone has 39,000 followers on Instagram, while Kardashian has 126 million, his legal team argued.
Besides, Stone wants to be heard even while he’s under indictment.
“Whether it is his pursuit of a posthumous pardon for Marcus Garvey, or the style of his clothes, or the state of the Nation, Roger Stone is a voice,” his attorneys wrote.
Stone’s attorneys’ argument contrasts with what Stone has claimed about his case so far — that it’s “impossible” for him to have a fair trial in Washington, he wrote on Instagram. He also attacked Jackson because she was appointed to the bench by President Barack Obama.
Jackson said last week that if she imposes a gag order, it won’t limit all of Stone’s speech. He would still be able to opine on “foreign relations, immigration and Tom Brady,” she said, for example, but shouldn’t treat his in-court proceedings “like a book tour.”
Stone’s attorneys also note that they disagree with the legality of a gag order Jackson put in place more than a year ago that has kept Stone’s former lobbying partner and fellow Trump adviser Paul Manafort and his legal team from speaking publicly.
Accuses prosecutors of judge shopping
While they don’t attack Jackson directly in their filings, Stone’s attorneys took a second swing at her approach Friday.
They requested that his criminal matter be randomly reassigned to another judge, because they say it was unfairly lumped together with a case that special counsel Robert Mueller brought against 12 Russian military intelligence agents for allegedly hacking the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton presidential campaign during the 2016 election.
Stone accuses the prosecutors of “shopping for a preferred district judge.”
Jackson so far hasn’t had much face time in court with Stone or his legal team to reveal her approach to the case. And she’s had no proceedings to handle yet in the Russian hacking case, since the Russian defendants have not been arrested. But in Manafort’s case, another special counsel proceeding she oversees, Jackson has repeatedly clashed with the defense team, even sternly warning defense attorney Kevin Downing on multiple occasions.
Stone’s attorneys seek more information about why the hacking case and Stone’s were deemed to be related.
The DC District Court has special rules that govern related cases so that those with similar facts can be assigned to the same judge. Stone faces no charges in connection with the hack — though he was mentioned anonymously in their indictment as communicating with the Russians. He is charged with lying about his attempts to reach WikiLeaks as it planned to publish documents stolen by the Russians in 2016.
“At first blush and without the benefit of discovery, there is nothing about these cases that suggests they are suitably related, other than they are both brought by the Office of Special Counsel,” Stone’s attorneys wrote in the filing. Prosecutors will respond to him about this next week.
Stone’s middle name
In one extra punch Friday, Stone’s attorneys said prosecutors got his name wrong when they indicted him. The case is against Roger Jason Stone Jr.
“Roger Stone’s middle name is Joseph, not Jason,” the attorneys wrote to the judge.
The special counsel’s office declined to comment.