Former Trump advisor Roger Stone—whose “rules” for politics include things like “hang a name on your opponent” and “attack, attack, attack—never defend”—found himself on the defensive today after taking a bit too much of his own advice.
Stone posted a photo of U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, AKA the judge hearing his case as part of the Mueller investigation, with what appears to be crosshairs by her head:
The post caption reads,
“Through legal trickery Deep State hitman Robeert Mueller has guaranteed that my upcoming show trial is before Judge Amy Berman Jackson , an Obama appointed Judge who dismissed the Benghazi charges again Hillary Clinton and incarcerated Paul Manafort prior to his conviction for any crime . #fixisin Help me fight for my life at @StoneDefenseFund.com”
Stone deleted the post after it was flagged by Guardian reporter Jon Swaine (and others) on Twitter:
Roger Stone now directly attacking the federal judge presiding over his case and posting a pic of her head beside crosshairs pic.twitter.com/ze3lnuoSOE— Jon Swaine (@jonswaine) February 18, 2019
Judge Berman recently issued a limited gag order preventing Stone from talking about his case in a way that might influence a potential jury pool.
Gag order seems like it's going well.... https://t.co/Wyd0YJIARM— Garrett M. Graff (@vermontgmg) February 18, 2019
Among other things, the gag order could complicate Stone’s efforts raise money for his legal defense fund.
The general consensus of legal experts on Twitter was that threatening the judge hearing your case is, at the very least, an incredibly stupid strategy:
Obviously completely unacceptable, and probably means the US Marshals will have to being providing security to Judge Jackson. https://t.co/63YjaQZltq— Matthew Miller (@matthewamiller) February 18, 2019
This is smart. The United States Marshals Service is really renowned for their sense of humor and casual approach towards threats against federal judges. https://t.co/1XagdStOhS— Susan Hennessey (@Susan_Hennessey) February 18, 2019
This is completely out of bounds. The cross hairs will likely lead prosecutors to ask for revocation of his pre-trial release. At best, this is a cheap stunt designed to get the judge to recuse, at worst, an outright threat. https://t.co/wJ1jlWFLIM— Joyce Alene (@JoyceWhiteVance) February 18, 2019
Federal judges are frequently threatened, but rarely by someone with the influence of Roger Stone. This thuggery should be universally condemned. https://t.co/YJ1xdZgXjw— Renato Mariotti (@renato_mariotti) February 18, 2019
This is beyond unacceptable and Donald Trump better condemn it. If he does not, his silence will speak volumes. This is a direct attack on the rule of law and its guardians. https://t.co/gIGwAsb64n— Neal Katyal (@neal_katyal) February 18, 2019
Democratic Congressman Ted Lieu responded to Stone’s post by citing relevant sections of the U.S. code forbidding judicial intimidation:
18 USC § 115: Whoever "threatens to assault, kidnap, or murder, a ... [US] judge ... with intent to impede, intimidate, or interfere with such official, judge ... while engaged in the performance of official duties ..." commits a felony.— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) February 18, 2019
Does this post from Roger Stone qualify? https://t.co/U1huDG8MwT
Stone later posted two clumsy efforts to disavow and explain the threatening post to Instagram:
Stone claims he never intended to threaten Jackson and the crosshairs are just the logo of some organization known as “corruption central.” (Also, text screenshots dude?)
Stone also texted journalist Kathryn Watson offering a lengthier statement on his decision to remove the post and shifted blame to “someone” who works for him:
Stone adds: "One of the people who works for me posted it but I disagree that it violates any aspect of the judges order. Because it has been misinterpreted I ordered it taken down In though everything contained was factual."— Kathryn Watson (@kathrynw5) February 18, 2019
A post like this from Roger Stone is particularly threatening considering Stone’s affiliation with the violent “Proud Boys,” which has been designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Stone has hired members of the right-wing organization as security and they’ve been implicated in a series of physical altercations, most recently the beating of counter-protesters in New York City. Stone has disavowed his connections to the Proud Boys, but then again another of “Stone’s rules” is “Admit nothing, deny everything.”