A federal judge in Washington scolded Roger Stone’s legal team Thursday during a brief hearing that set a November trial date for the longtime Trump ally and confidant.
U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson told Stone’s attorneys that there was “no exception for awkward” when it came to notifying her about the release of a book with an introduction that could potentially violate his gag order.
The Washington judge told Stone’s attorneys that the “last thing” they should be worried about is whether notifying the court would be “an uncomfortable experience.”
The defense team includes Fort Lauderdale attorneys Grant Smith of StrategySmith, Robert Buschel of Buschel & Gibbons, Bruce Rogow and Tara Campion.
The judge commented at a status hearing that briefly addressed Stone’s latest controversy: the re-release of his 2017 book on Trump’s 2016 presidential run. Jackson is mulling whether Stone’s book, which features an updated introduction calling special counsel Robert Mueller III “crooked,” violates the gag order. She previously warned Stone, who is free on bond, that any violation could land him in jail.
Jackson said Thursday she had not had a chance to study court papers filed by Stone’s attorneys “in detail” and would continue to review them.
Stone’s attorneys alerted the judge to the book’s republication earlier this month after the gag order was in place. In court papers, they told the judge they didn’t intend to mislead her by not flagging the book during an earlier hearing on the gag order.
“Even if it had crossed counsel’s mind to raise the new introduction (and it did not), it seems a bit awkward to have sought to introduce the new Introduction at that very moment during argument,” the lawyers said.
During Thursday’s hearing, the judge set a Nov. 5 trial date for Stone, noting she expected the trial to last at least two weeks. Stone’s attorneys are expected to file a motion to dismiss the case by April 12 and a motion to suppress evidence by May 10. The next status conference was scheduled for April 30.
Stone is fighting charges that he lied to congressional investigators probing Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election, obstructed justice and tampered with a witness.
Jackson hit Stone with a gag order Feb. 21 after a hearing that centered around a now-deleted Instagram post that featured an image of Jackson’s head next to what appeared to be a gun’s crosshairs.
Stone was arrested Jan. 25 in a predawn raid at his Fort Lauderdale home