Judge orders Roger Stone to court over Instagram post

Trump confidante posted a photo of US judge with what appeared to be cross hairs near her head

FILE - In this Feb. 1, 2019, file photo, former campaign adviser for President Donald Trump, Roger Stone, leaves federal court in Washington. President Donald Trump's longtime confidant Stone has apologized to the judge presiding over his criminal case for an Instagram post featuring a photo of her with what appears to be the crosshairs of a gun. Stone and his lawyers filed a notice Monday night, Feb. 18, saying Stone recognized "the photograph and comment today was improper and should not have been posted." (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)
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A US judge on Tuesday ordered Roger Stone, a long-time confidante of Donald Trump, to appear in court after he posted an image of her on Instagram in what appeared to be the cross hairs of a gunsight.

US District Judge Amy Berman Jackson said Mr Stone must show on Thursday afternoon why she should not modify or revoke his bail, or impose a full gag order in his case.

On Monday, Mr Stone posted a photo of Ms Jackson with what appeared to be cross hairs near her head.

Later in the day, he and his lawyers filed a notice with the court that they recognised the “photograph and comment today was improper and should not have been posted".

Mr Stone said that the photo was “misinterpreted” and that it was “a random photo taken from the internet". He dismissed any suggestion that he was trying to threaten the judge as “categorically false".

The political operative and self-described dirty trickster has pleaded not guilty to charges that he lied to Congress, tampered with witnesses and obstructed a congressional investigation into alleged co-ordination between Russia and Mr Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.

These charges stem from conversations he had during the 2016 election about WikiLeaks, the group that released material stolen from Democratic organisations, including Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

Mr Stone was arrested last month and is the sixth Trump aide or adviser charged in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. He is free on $250,000 (Dh918,100) bail.

Last week, Ms Jackson issued a limited gag order that prevents Mr Stone from discussing his case near the courthouse and bars his lawyers, prosecutors and witnesses from making public comments that could “pose a substantial likelihood” of prejudicing jurors.

But the order did not stop Mr Stone from making other public comments about the prosecution or his case. His lawyers argued that placing limits on such comments would infringe on his constitutional right to free speech.

In implementing the limited gag order on Friday, Ms Jackson said it was necessary to “maintain the dignity and seriousness of the courthouse and these proceedings".

Mr Stone insists he is innocent and said Mr Mueller's investigation was politically motivated. He has also criticised his case as involving only “process crimes".

On Tuesday, Mr Stone posted a photo of a book he received from a supporter, writing on Instagram that he was praying it “protects me from the fake news media who are smearing me and purposely misinterpreting everything I say".