WASHINGTON -- A federal judge shouldn't bar longtime Donald Trump confidant Roger Stone from making public statements about his criminal case in the Russia investigation, his attorneys said Friday.
Lawyers for Stone say in a new court filing that any limits on their client's public comments would infringe on his First Amendment right to free speech.
They made the argument as U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson is considering a gag order preventing both sides in the case from making public statements that could prejudice potential jurors, while allowing Stone to publicly opine on other matters.
Jackson raised the issue last week after she warned Stone not to treat his criminal case like a "book tour." She was referring to several post-indictment talk show appearances Stone made, criticizing special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation as politically motivated.
In the filing Friday, Stone's attorneys wrote that his comments don't merit a "clear and present danger to a fair trial." They also downplayed his fame, citing as evidence that his Instagram following is only a fraction of celebrity Kim Kardashian West's.
"While Roger Stone may be familiar to those who closely follow American politics, he is hardly ubiquitous in the larger landscape of popular consciousness," Stone's attorneys wrote.
Stone's legal team, which includes Bruce Rogow, a noted First Amendment attorney, also urged Jackson not to curtail speech based on "conjecture or speculation" about its possible effect on jurors.
"Roger Stone has faith in the jury system and in the mechanics of jury selection which are designed to ensure a fair trial. Any attempt to foresee the future effect of free speech on jury selection is a hazardous endeavor," they wrote.
In a filing later Friday, prosecutors said they wouldn't oppose Jackson issuing a "narrowly-tailored" gag order that seeks to keep Stone from using media coverage to his advantage in the court case. Prosecutors are not asking for a blanket ban on Stone appearing publicly or discussing matters unrelated to his case.
Stone, 66, was arrested in an early morning FBI raid at his Fort Lauderdale, Fla., home last month.
He is charged with lying to Congress, obstruction and witness tampering related to discussions he had during the 2016 election about WikiLeaks, the anti-secrecy group that released material stolen from Democratic groups including Hillary Clinton's campaign.
Separately, Ivanka Trump said in a new interview that she has "zero concern" about Mueller's investigation, and she sought to play down the significance of a prospective Moscow real estate deal that the Trump Organization pursued while her father was running for president.
"I'm not, I'm really not," said Ivanka Trump, a White House adviser, when asked during an interview with ABC News whether she was concerned about any of her "loved ones" being caught up in Mueller's investigation of possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia in the 2016 presidential election campaign.
"I have zero concern," she said.
Ivanka Trump asserted that the pursuit of a Trump Tower project in Russia during the 2016 campaign is a facet of the Mueller investigation that has been overblown.
"There's nothing there, yet it's weeks and weeks and months of headlines," she said.
As part of a plea deal with Mueller, former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen acknowledged that the pursuit of the project continued well into 2016, longer than he had previously acknowledged, raising questions about whether Moscow had leverage over Trump. Cohen also said that he had kept the president and his children apprised of progress on the deal, which never materialized.
Ivanka Trump, who worked for the Trump Organization, told ABC that she "barely" knew about the prospective deal. "Literally almost nothing," she said.
"There was never a binding contract," Ivanka Trump said. "I never talked to the -- with a third party outside of the organization about it. It was one of -- I mean we could have had 40 or 50 deals like that, that were floating around, that somebody was looking at. Nobody visited it to see if it was worth our time. So this was not exactly like an advanced project."
In his plea deal in November, Cohen said he knowingly gave false answers in 2017 to the Senate and House intelligence committees about the Trump Tower project to minimize links between the proposed development and Donald Trump.
Information for this article was contributed by Chad Day of The Associated Press; and by John Wagner of The Washington Post.
A Section on 02/09/2019
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