A federal judge in Washington shaded Roger Stone’s legal team Thursday during a brief court hearing that set a November trial date for the longtime Trump ally and confidant.
Judge Amy Berman Jackson told Stone’s attorneys Thursday that there was “no exception for awkward” when it came to notifying the court about the release of a book that could potentially land Stone in violation of his gag order. Jackson told Stone’s attorneys that the “last thing” they should be worried about is whether notifying the court would be “an uncomfortable experience.”
Stone’s legal team includes Fort Lauderdale-based attorneys Grant Smith of StrategySmith, Robert Buschel of Buschel & Gibbons, Bruce Rogow and Tara Campion.
Jackson’s comments came during a status hearing that briefly addressed Stone’s latest controversy: the rerelease of his 2017 book on Trump’s 2016 presidential run. Jackson is mulling whether Stone’s book, which features a new introduction that criticizes special counsel Robert Mueller III, violates a gag order she issued in the case. She previously warned Stone, who is currently out on bond, that any violation of the order 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 the submissions.
Stone’s attorneys alerted the judge to the book’s republication earlier this month, but only after a gag order had already been issued. In court papers, they told the judge they didn’t intend to mislead her by not flagging the book during an earlier hearing about 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. A status conference hearing 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 first hit Stone with a gag order last month, following 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 crosshair.