By Sarah N. Lynch and Mark Hosenball
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A visibly angry judge on Thursday ordered President Donald Trump’s former political adviser Roger Stone to stop speaking publicly about U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s criminal case against him or else he will be sent to jail pending trial.
In a tense court hearing on Thursday, U.S. Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia said that Stone’s apology and explanations for why he posted a photo of her next to the image of the crosshairs of a gun on his Instagram account were not credible.
“Thank you, but the apology rings quite hollow,” she told Stone.
“What all of this means, Mr. Stone, is that any violation of this order will be a basis for revoking your bond and detaining you pending trial. So I want to be clear – today I gave you a second chance. But this is not baseball. There will not be a third chance.”
Stone has pleaded not guilty to charges of making false statements to Congress, obstruction and witness tampering as part of Mueller’s investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election. Mueller is also investigating possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Moscow officials.
Trump denies collusion and Russia denies U.S. allegations it interfered to undermine the American democratic process.
Jackson ordered Stone to appear in court after he posted an image on his Instagram account earlier this week with the crosshairs image next to her photo and a message that railed against both Mueller and the judge.
The image appeared just days after Jackson had imposed a narrow media gag order in the case.
Stone later took the image down and apologised, but afterwards he gave an interview on conspiracy website Infowars defending the post.
At Thursday’s hearing, Stone took the stand and pleaded with Jackson to accept his apology.
“I abused the order,” Stone said. “I am kicking myself over my own stupidity.”
Lawyers for Stone declined comment as they left the courthouse.
(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch and Mark Hosenball; additional reporting by Makini Brice; Writing by Tim Ahmann; editing by Grant McCool)