U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson ordered Roger Stone and his lawyers to file a status report by today “detailing his efforts to come into compliance” with her gag order. Stone and his attorneys were also ordered to provide relevant information about the re-release of a book that so happens to be called The Myth of Russian Collusion and refers to special counsel Robert Mueller as “crooked.”
Here’s what they said.
Sorry you we gave you the wrong idea about the book
Right out of the gate, Stone’s lawyers said that their motion to clarify, which Judge Jackson did not take kindly to, was not intended as a way of generating book publicity. They said, on the contrary, it was “intended to address the fact that the ‘new’ introduction was, after the February 21, 2019 hearing, recognized to be a potential problem.”
“We regret that the Court drew a contrary impression,” they said.
“That the New Introduction ‘had been sent to a publisher in January and was scheduled for release in February’ is now certain,” they continued. “There was confusion. We apologize for the confusing representation about publication.”
Here’s what they say Roger Stone knew about all of this
Stone’s attorneys say that the book publisher said the “New Edition” was able to be purchased as of Jan. 18, 2019 via Amazon, Google Books or “any other online vendor.” They say Stone became aware that the “New Edition” was printed in “early February.”
They provided five bullet points regarding what Stone did and did not know:
1) Mr.Stone became aware of the fact that the New Edition of the book had been printed in early February, exact date unknown, when an acquaintance of Mr. Stone reached out to him to say he had purchased and had in-hand a copy of the book.
2) Mr. Stone knew books had been shipped from the printer as late as February 18, when Mr. Stone received two boxes of approximately 30 books each at his home delivered to him by the publisher which he began giving to friends and family. See also, Composite Exhibit B.
3) Mr. Stone does not have any recollection of when he specifically knew they were available at bookstores.
4) Mr. Stone does not have any recollection of when he specifically knew they were being sold at retail bookstores.
5) Mr. Stone does not recall when he learned that the book was available for purchase or viewing online.
The date of Feb. 18 is three days before Stone was fully gagged by the judge. This brings us to the next detail.
Lawyers: Stone “immediately reminded” us about the anti-Mueller intro after the gag order hearing
Stone’s attorneys claim that it was their client who immediately set off alarm bells about his writings after feeling Judge Jackson’s wrath.
“Immediately following the February 21 hearing, Mr. Stone reminded counsel about the existence of the New Introduction which covered topics now subject to restriction and that it could be construed as being written after the date for the February 21 Order because the various platform and location releases were not immediately known to him, although he had knowledge they had been printed and that there had been at least one commercial sale,” they said. “Mr. Stone instructed Mr. [Grant] Smith to send the new introduction to the others on his team for review.”
They said that Stone “did not have any direct communications with the publisher or any retailer between February 21 and March 1” because “all communications were indirect through counsel.” They further said that they went to the book publisher so that they could get the specifics Judge Jackson was asking for, namely to “accurately represent the status of the book to the Court.”
“As is reflected in [an enclosed] email exchange, Mr. Stone no longer had a ‘joint-venture’ with the publisher and the publisher viewed the information Mr. Stone was requesting to be proprietary as Mr. Stone neither participated in setting the schedule or any printing or distribution decisions,” they said. “The publisher ultimately provided the information requested in preparation for the Defendant’s filing.”
Recall: Judge Jackson sternly responded to two new Stone publicity issues (and, no, we are not talking about Crosshairsgate). Stone’s Instagram account recently shared an image that said “Who framed Roger Stone” on it. Stone has been barred from making any public statements about his views of his case, whether by phone, Instagram, email or text. The image caught the attention of the Special Counsel’s Office. Even more concerning for the judge, though, was the re-release of The Myth of Russian Collusion.
Stone’s attorneys tried to argue that because the book was authored before the gag order was put in place on Feb. 21, it’s not a problem. This was not a view shared by the judge. Judge Jackson slammed their motion to clarify the gag order on the grounds that there was no need for clarification.
“Since the order, which was endorsed by the defense, does not require clarification, and the proposed clarification is not consistent with the order itself, the motion for clarification is hereby DENIED,” she said.
The judge wanted to know why there was a “misrepresentation” about a book “that is critical of the ongoing investigation by the Office of Special Counsel.”
“On March 4, without providing any explanation for the misrepresentation in the motion, defendant informed the Court that the use of the word ‘imminent’ had been a ‘misnomer’ because the book is already for sale,” she said, adding that it really doesn’t matter anyway because “there is no question that the order prohibited and continues to prohibit the defendant from making any public statements, using any medium, concerning the investigation.”
“It does not matter when the defendant may have first formulated the opinions expressed, or when he first put them into words: he may no longer share his views on these particular subjects with the world,” she said. It was this complaint about “misrepresentation” that they were responding to here.
In conclusion, we did nothing wrong
At the end of the filing, Stone’s attorneys admitted that they were clumsy, but said they were not hiding anything.
“There was/is no intention to hide anything. The new introduction, post February 21, 2019, presented a question we tried, obviously clumsily, to address. Having been scolded, we seek only to defend Mr. Stone and move ahead without further ado,” they said.
In a footnote, they would add that Stone attorney Bruce Rogow is “under a physician’s care for temporary disorder impeding his ability to travel” and that he may not be able to make a hearing on March 14.
The book hasn’t sold “particularly well”
Internal emails that Stone’s attorneys provided the court showed that they seemed pretty worried about whether the “New Edition” was in violation of the judge’s order.
Stone attorney Grant Smith reached out to Tony Lyons of Skyhorse Publishing over email on Feb. 26. and demanded to know what was going on with the book.
“The mere publication of the new portions of the book could land Roger in jail for contempt of the judge’s order,” he said, with clear urgency. “We are trying to establish data points and provide legal advice. I can not give you more information without violating the attorney client relationship at the moment. I need this immediately. This is not a some made up emergency.”
Lyons did not understand why this was relevant.
“This all happened prior to the court order, so I don’t see how it’s relevant. I just don’t have the staff to do it this week,” he said, adding that the book hasn’t sold well. “We printed about 13,000-14,000 copies. We shipped most of them and they are all around the country in bookstores. They are not selling particularly well so far, but hopefully that will change.”
“That should be sufficient, right?” he asked, hoping that Smith’s asks had been answered.
Smith also wanted to know if there was an ebook. Lyons confirmed that there was, and then asked, “Both were live long before the gag order, so we should be good, right?” Smith was not so sure about that.
“Hopefully,” he replied.
[Image via Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images]