Judge orders Roger Stone to court over inflammatory Instagram post

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Roger Stone formally apologized Monday for his controversial Instagram posts about federal district court Judge Amy Berman Jackson in a letter filed with the court.

According to numerous reports, Jackson issued an order on Tuesday that requires Stone to appear before the court on Thursday to explain "as to why the media contact order entered in this case... and or the conditions of his release... should not be modified" in the wake of his Instagram post.

Soon after, he replaced the post with a cropped image of Jackson, this time with the crosshairs cut out.

Later on Monday, Stone posted to his Instagram that the photo of Jackson "has been misinterpreted".

If Jackson finds that Stone broke this term, he could even be held in contempt of court, fined or imprisoned. He said the picture was a "random photo taken from the Internet" and dismissed any suggestion he was trying to threaten the judge. He also said the image was not of cross hairs, but rather, the "logo of an organisation" often featured in many photos.

He later apologized for the post in an official filing to the court.

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Stone's lawyers argued, unsuccessfully, that placing any limits on his public comments would infringe on his constitutionally protected right to free speech. Stone has maintained his innocence and blasted the special counsel's investigation as politically motivated.

The ruling came after Mr Stone spent the hearing apologising to the judge and asking for a second chance.

Prosecutor Jonathan Kravis, however, called on the judge to put tighter restrictions on Stone's communications, saying his testimony "was not credible".

It is possible that Stone, who unsuccessfully petitioned the court to reassign the case to another judge, intended all of this as a ploy to make Jackson so personally angry at him that she would have to recuse herself from his trial. Stone, 1:19-cr-00018, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson said Thursday she believes Stone would "pose a danger" to others in the case if she didn't institute the order.

"Thank you, but the apology rings quite hollow", she shot back before instituting the gag order. Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort lost his bail privileges after he was accused of witness tampering in the run-up to his trial.