On Monday, Stone, a sometime adviser to President Donald Trump who faces charges of lying to Congress and obstructing a federal investigation, posted a photo of U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson on his Instagram account, along with a short diatribe saying she's the judge overseeing his "upcoming show trial".
Stone, 66, has offered other explanations, saying on Instagram that the photo was cribbed from the internet and that the gun-sight imagery is the logo of Corruption Central, the group that originally posted the picture.
Stone was arrested in January in connection with special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into the Trump campaign's ties with the Russian government during the 2016 presidential election.
During Thursday's tense and animated hearing in federal court in Washington, Stone took the witness stand to try to explain his Instagram post and apologize to the judge, repeatedly telling her he had made an egregious and inexcusable mistake.
"Roger Stone fully understands the power of words and the power of symbols and there's nothing ambiguous about crosshairs", the judge said.
"I'm sorry that I abused your trust", Stone told Jackson.
"I regret it", the longtime Republican political operative and self-described "dirty trickster" added.
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Jackson responded: "I agree with you there".
"Thank you, but the apology rings quite hollow", the judge shot back before instituting the gag order.
Roger Stone really stepped in it this time. He said the Instagram post was a "stupid lapse of judgement".
Jackson said she did not believe his testimony, and believed he understood how inflammatory the image he posted was, especially among his followers. He was arrested last month and has remained free on a $250,000 personal recognizance bond. The no-nonsense judge called the message of the Instagram post "sinister", said there is nothing ambiguous about crosshairs, and that the post appeared meant to incite others, posing a threat.
Stone admitted that it was improper for him to post the image, let alone criticize the judge at all, saying "I have no rationalization or excuse".
Judge Jackson asked if Stone's social media handlers knew how to use Google and how to find photos that do not contain crosshairs in it.
"I didn't recognize it as a crosshairs - I didn't even notice it until it was brought to my attention by a reporter", Stone said. But, he said, "I shouldn't have posted any of it at all - it was a mistake".
Defense attorney Bruce Rogow called the post "a single specific instance" and argued that "Mr".
At any rate, Judge Jackson, who memorably threw Stone's longtime associate Paul Manafort in jail for violating the conditions of his pre-trial release, had an opportunity to do that to Stone, too - or, to a lesser degree, hand down a more severe gag order.