As Palmer Report reported earlier, Roger Stone took it upon himself to post a picture of his trial judge next to crosshairs, and as the Palmer Report article predicted, Stone would somehow attempt to excuse it and take it down. He has now in fact taken it down.
According to CBS News reporter Kathryn Watson, Stone responded to a text message from her, stating: “I have objected to the manner in which my case was assigned to a specific judge rather than the judge being selected randomly. The judge rejected the motion by my attorneys from which there is no appeal. I do not believe that I have violated any order of the court and that these sentiments for within my first amendment rights. Any inference that this in someway threatens the judge is false. Because it is open to miss interpretation [sic] I’m going to take it down.”
It is an open question whether Stone is within his First Amendment rights to make accusations against the judge. In other contexts, courts have been heavily divided. Stone is wrong on the judge assignment and the manner in which she was assigned. Whether his posting violated the gag order is something the judge will have to decide.
However, the allegation that the photo can be misinterpreted is nonsense. Federal judges are very careful about photos and identifiers, and the first question should be where Stone obtained this photo of the judge. The second question is what message or statement Stone was making, if not to incite violence or at least invite it. Stone is in trouble and he knows it. This dangerous use of an Instagram photo of his judge with crosshairs above her is not a good idea, and Stone is risking being put in jail.