Roger Stone never intended to violate his gag order or hide from a federal judge the paperback release of his book about Donald Trump’s election, which includes criticism of Robert Mueller’s special counsel probe, his lawyers argued in a new court filing Monday.
“There was/is no intention to hide anything,” the lawyers wrote. “Having been scolded, we seek only to defend Mr. Stone and move ahead without further ado.”
Stone’s explanation comes as Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the US District Court in DC, who oversees his case, has grown unhappy with his disregard for her orders. It sets up yet another perilous court appearance for him later this week.
The description Stone’s defense team provided to Jackson on Monday makes clear that Stone promoted his book following his arrest. And email disclosures Stone’s legal team made Monday show, in real time, the clashing of Stone’s delicate approach to court with his relentless pursuit of publicity. Even in the days after his indictment, his publisher and others booked him on television news shows with book sales in mind.
Stone’s lawyers explained they did not acknowledge the book’s publication at a court hearing about his gag order because it would have been “a bit awkward” to mention the impending book re-release when they apologized to Jackson for Stone posting a threatening photo about her online. That hearing, on February 21, led Jackson to tell Stone he could no longer speak publicly about his case, the court and Mueller.
Gag order concerns
Stone and his attorneys clearly worried about the re-release of his book in the hours and days after Jackson put him under the strict gag order, according to emails they showed the court on Monday.
“The mere publication of the new portions of the book could land Roger in jail for contempt of the judge’s order,” one defense attorney, Grant Smith, wrote in an email in late February to the book’s publisher. Smith also handles publicity for Stone.
Stone first brought up the book’s publication to his lawyers following the gag order hearing on February 21, his lawyers wrote Monday.
That evening, another Stone defense attorney Bruce Rogow emailed others on the legal team suggesting they ask the publisher to black out some pages of the book.
Rogow expressed concern about a paragraph Stone wrote about the Mueller investigation and former Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
The legal team did not tell Jackson about the book’s release until about a week later, according to the court’s docket.
“Perhaps the president’s greatest mistake was the appointment of Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions as attorney general … he would shockingly recuse himself from authority when the Deep State made its move to delegitimize the Trump presidency by claiming that Trump had only been elected with the assistance of collusion by the Russian state,” Stone wrote in the book’s introduction.
Planning the book
Stone’s lawyers said he drafted the introduction for the paperback release of the book before his indictment. An email shows Stone wrote it on January 13, and a version of it became available to online vendors soon after. He was indicted 11 days later on January 24, then arrested by the FBI the following morning.
“It would give Roger a chance to set the record straight, clear his name, reach a wider audience and make some money,” a publisher wrote to one of Stone’s lawyers before his indictment. Stone was widely known to be under investigation before he was charged with obstruction, witness tampering and lying to Congress in Mueller’s probe in late January.
The publisher relayed that Barnes & Noble wanted Stone’s name to be large on the front cover.
Stone vetoed another title option with the subtitle “The Inside Story of How I REALLY Helped Trump Win,” remarking, “I can’t be seen taking credit for HIS victory.” He and Smith also discussed how various titles would play “in the administration.”
Ultimately, the publisher said it had printed about 14,000 copies. “They are not selling particularly well so far, but hopefully that will change,” wrote Tony Lyons, the publisher of Skyhorse Publishing, in a missive to Stone and one of his defense attorneys.
The publisher also suggested sending copies of the book to all US senators or having Stone “hand them out.”
Others who helped to plot Stone’s book rollout included Kristin Davis, who spoke to prosecutors and a federal grand jury about Stone before he was charged and whose New York duplex – which she shares with him – was raided by investigators the same day as his arrest. Three days after Stone’s arrest, Davis and others helped to plan Stone’s appearances on Fox News shows hosted by Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham. He also considered appearing on CNN’s New Day and wanted to speak about the book, according to the emails.
Stone followed up with the publisher about the book’s rollout plans in mid-February, the same weekend he made the inflammatory Instagram post about Jackson.
“Recognize that the judge may issue a gag order any day now and while we will appeal it that could take a while,” Stone wrote on February 15. “I also have to be wary of media outlets I want to interview me but don’t really want to talk about the book. These are weird times.”
That same afternoon, Jackson placed a gag order on Stone’s attorneys and restricted some of his public speech about the case, in and around the courthouse.
After Jackson issued that order, Stone posted about Jackson on Instagram. His post included a photo of her with crosshairs behind her head. He removed the post and his attorneys then had him apologize to Jackson.
Stone posted six times on Instagram to promote the book, up to the day of his apology.
Jackson called him into court in DC on February 21, and tightened the gag order that day so he could not speak about his case or Mueller at all.
Jackson said last week that the book’s continued release was in violation of the gag order, and demanded Stone give the details his lawyers provided Monday night.
She has told him there may be consequences, but hasn’t yet said what the consequences are.
Stone’s legal team has not appealed either the first or the second more strict version of Jackson’s gag order.
Stone’s lawyers said that when they raised the book’s release with the court following her gag order, they did not intend to generate publicity about it.
Stone has a court hearing with Jackson scheduled for Thursday.