U.S. judge issues gag order in trial of former Trump adviser Stone

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Self-described “dirty trickster” Roger Stone will still be able to speak about his upcoming criminal trial under a gag order issued on Friday, but the U.S. judge handling the case warned the former adviser to Donald Trump that he might want to choose his words carefully.

U.S. judge issues gag order in trial of former Trump adviser Stone

FILE PHOTO: Longtime Trump ally Roger Stone gives an interview to Reuters in Washington, U.S., January 31, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis/File Photo

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson said she was issuing the modified gag order to “maintain the dignity and seriousness of the courthouse” in a case that has generated a carnival-like atmosphere since Stone’s arrest in Florida on Jan. 25.

The order prohibits lawyers involved in the case from speaking with news media outlets and prohibits other participants, like Stone himself, from making statements that may affect the case when they are near the courthouse.

It does not stop Stone from talking about his case when he is not near the courthouse. However, Jackson warned Stone that he may not help his prospects by speaking out.

“One factor that will be considered in the evaluation of any future request for relief based on pretrial publicity will be the extent to which the publicity was engendered by the defendant himself,” Jackson wrote.

One of Stone’s attorneys said he was satisfied with the order.

“We are pleased that Mr. Stone’s First Amendment rights have been safeguarded. Courthouse steps are reasonable places for restraint for all,” Stone lawyer Bruce Rogow said. The amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees freedom of speech.

Stone has pleaded not guilty to charges of making false statements to Congress, obstruction and witness tampering in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russia’s role in the 2016 U.S. election and whether President Trump’s Republican campaign conspired with Moscow.

The 66-year-old self-proclaimed “dirty trickster” has embraced the spotlight since his arrest. After he was released from arrest, Stone flashed twin “V for Victory” signs that were made famous by his former mentor, disgraced Republican President Richard Nixon.

He has criticized Mueller’s investigation as an “inquisition,” and told Reuters that his charges amount to “process crimes” that did not involve intentional lies.

Stone is accused of telling unidentified members of Trump’s 2016 campaign team that he had advance knowledge of plans by the WikiLeaks website to release damaging emails about Trump’s Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton. Prosecutors say those emails were stolen by Russia. Stone’s ties to Trump go back four decades, and he had urged Trump to run for president since 1988.

Moscow has denied meddling in the campaign. Trump, who has frequently derided Mueller’s probe as a “witch hunt,” has denied any wrongdoing.

Reporting by Andy Sullivan; Editing by Susan Thomas, Leslie Adler and Jonathan Oatis