WASHINGTON, Feb 16:A US judge issued a gag order on Friday in the case against Roger Stone, the Trump advisor who has pleaded not guilty to charges stemming from the investigation into whether the president’s election campaign colluded with Russia.
Stone, 66, is charged with lying to Congress, witness tampering and obstruction stemming from his contacts with WikiLeaks, whose publication of Russian-hacked communications from Democrat Hillary Clinton’s campaign gave a boost to Donald Trump.
US District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson ordered government and defense attorneys to refrain from “making statements to the media or in public settings that pose a substantial likelihood of material prejudice to this case.”
Stone was told not to speak to the media or to make public statements around the courthouse or in its immediate vicinity.
The federal judge cited the “size and vociferousness of the crowds” attending Stone’s court appearances and the “risk that public pronouncements by the participants may inflame those gatherings.”
Stone’s court appearances have been rowdy affairs featuring supporters and opponents and a large media contingent.
Stone, a veteran Republican consultant, pleaded not guilty in federal court in Washington last month to the seven charges against him.
Stone is the sixth campaign associate of Trump indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 vote.
Trump has repeatedly denied any collusion with Moscow and denounced the probe by Mueller, a former FBI director, as a “political witch hunt.”
Stone, who launched his career as a campaign aide to Richard Nixon and has a tattoo on his back of the first US president to resign from office, has spent decades advising political campaigns.
His association with Trump dates back to 1979, and he was one of the first to enlist when the billionaire real estate magnate launched his run for the presidency in 2015.
Stone left the campaign months later but the indictment shows he remained in active communication with Trump’s team, providing support and information.
Mueller’s team has indicted a total of 34 people — but so far, no charges of outright collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow have been filed. (AGENCIES)