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WASHINGTON — Roger Stone narrowly avoided being sent to jail on Tuesday for violating the gag order in his case, but he won’t get to put any celebratory posts on Instagram about it this time: He’s been totally banned from using all social media.
U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson agreed with prosecutors that Stone, one of President Trump’s oldest advisers, violated her gag order with vitriolic posts on Instagram and Facebook.
But she wasn’t ready to send Stone to jail. Instead, she narrowed the gag order further.
Stone, 66, had already been warned by Jackson that he’d get no “third chance” after his previous outbursts on social media, including the time he posted an image of the judge's head next to what looked a lot like crosshairs.
“I’ve twice given you the benefit of the doubt,” Jackson said. “Your lawyer had to … twist himself into a pretzel to argue that these posts didn’t cross the line.”
Federal prosecutors on Tuesday stopped short of asking Jackson to send Stone to jail pending the outcome of his trial, instead suggesting the judge consider banning him from social media altogether.
Jackson said that throwing Stone in jail would be “wasteful, unnecessary and counterproductive,” in that it would probably just create even more pretrial publicity.
“So what am I supposed to do with you?” she asked.
Stone’s future appeared in doubt earlier in the day. At one point, Jackson queried Stone’s lawyer Bruce Rogow about several individual posts, pressing him to explain why they didn’t violate her order not to discuss the trial.
"Roger Stone has been saying more than, 'Hi, I'm Roger Stone,'" Jackson said.
“From the tone of your questions, I get the sense that you are not happy with Mr. Stone in this case,” Rogow replied.
Former prosecutor Renato Mariotti said the back-and-forth in the trial suggested Jackson appeared to be preparing to send Stone to jail.
For now, Stone just needs to stop himself from posting anything online through November, when his trial begins.
Stone was arrested in January and indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller for allegedly lying to Congress about his efforts to reach out to WikiLeaks, the renegade transparency organization accused of publishing stolen Democratic documents during the 2016 election.
Stone has pleaded not guilty, and vowed to beat the charges.
Jackson had initially allowed Stone to speak out publicly about the case, but ordered him gagged in February after the incident with her picture and the apparent cross hairs — which Stone said he’d thought were just some kind of “Celtic occult symbol.”
In late June, prosecutors said Stone had violated the resulting gag order with posts on Instagram and Facebook, which called on the media to cover elements of the case.
Cover: Roger Stone, an associate of President Donald Trump, leaves the U.S. District Court, after a court status conference on his seven charges: one count of obstruction of an official proceeding, five counts of false statements, and one count of witness tampering, in Washington, Thursday, March 14, 2019. Stone has pleaded not guilty to the charges. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)