Roger Stone trial set for Nov. 5 start

Source: Politico | March 14, 2019 | Darren Samuelsohn and Josh Gerstein

The case pits the longtime Donald Trump associate against special counsel Robert Mueller on charges Stone lied to Congress and obstructed lawmakers’ Russia investigation.

Roger Stone will go on trial starting Nov. 5 in Washington, D.C., the federal judge presiding in the high-profile case said Thursday.

U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson set out a calendar for a two-week trial that will pit the longtime Donald Trump associate against special counsel Robert Mueller on charges Stone lied to Congress and obstructed lawmakers’ Russia investigation.

Stone entered the D.C. courthouse for Thursday’s status hearing uncertain whether he’d face any penalties — including the prospect of jailing — for violating the terms of a gag order from Jackson restricting his ability to talk about any aspect of the Mueller case.

But Stone was spared any punishment after Jackson opened the proceedings saying she didn’t “intend to dwell” on the dispute, which centers around discrepancies over whether Stone mislead the court about plans to re-release a recent book with a new introduction bashing Mueller’s investigation.

Jackson last week reprimanded Stone over the book flap and accused him of using court filings to promote its sales. The judge, an Obama appointee, also raised questions over whether Stone and his lawyers knew about the book issue but didn’t raise it during a Feb. 21 hearing where Jackson imposed a more sweeping gag order.

On Monday, Stone’s lawyers gave Jackson a batch of emails detailing the back and forth between Stone, his attorneys and his publisher over the updated book, now titled: “The Myth of Russian Collusion: The Inside Story of How Donald Trump REALLY Won.”

The emails showed Stone lawyer Bruce Rogow becoming concerned about the book as he read the introduction on his way back to Florida from the February hearing. However, the messages also show that six days earlier, Stone himself was warning the publisher that a gag order from Jackson might interfere with his ability to promote the book.

Addressing the issue Thursday in court, Mueller prosecutor Jeannie Rhee told Jackson that there were contradictions between the claims made by Stone’s attorneys and the email exchanges they’d released involving the publisher.

Jackson responded that she hadn’t had time to study all the different filings tied to the gag order flap but would take the arguments made by the government “under advisement.”

The judge did scoff at some of the defense’s explanations for not alerting her to the book issue sooner, especially a claim that it would have been “awkward” to raise the issue during the Feb. 21 hearing.

“I’m not sure that’s a very strong response from an experience litigator and officer of the court,” Jackson said, reminding the attorneys that they have a duty of candor to the court. “There’s no exception for ‘awkward,’” she added.

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