Federal Judge Amy Berman Jackson publicly informed Roger Stone today that he’ll need to appear before her on Thursday if he wants to convince her not to hit him with a gag order and/or revoke his bail. This isn’t remotely surprising, considering that Stone made a social media post on Monday which appeared to call for her murder. But there’s a reason to potentially root for Stone not to be tossed in jail on Thursday – at least not yet.
Back when Special Counsel Robert Mueller first had Paul Manafort indicted and arrested, he seemed to have no problem with Manafort being let out on conditional bail. This initially led to some head scratching. Then Mueller caught Manafort tampering with witnesses while out on bail, thus allowing Mueller to hit Manafort with additional and more easily provable criminal charges. Not only did Manafort get tossed in jail at that point, the additional charges helped nudge him into cutting a plea deal.
Of course the Manafort plea deal ended up going south. But even that allowed Mueller to get Manafort sent to prison for 20 to 25 years, thus sending a message to everyone else involved about the harsh price to be paid for these kinds of antics. This brings us back to Manafort’s longtime friend Roger Stone.
As of right now, Roger Stone faces seven felony charges. Robert Mueller’s court filings make clear that Stone will be hit additional charges at some point. It’s a given that Stone will eventually be convicted and sent to prison. But that could take years. Now imagine if Stone is merely given a warning on Thursday, and he then uses his continued freedom to commit more crimes, and Mueller catches him in the act. Then Mueller can ask the judge to throw Stone in jail, while hitting him with the kind of additional charges that could result in forcing Stone into a plea deal.
To be clear, while Robert Mueller can make a recommendation to Judge Amy Berman Jackson, it’s her decision whether to revoke Roger Stone’s bail, put him under house arrest, cut off his internet access, toss him in jail until his trial, or none of the above. And it should be her decision, considering she’s the one who just had her safety threatened. But don’t be shocked if Mueller doesn’t push for Stone to be locked up just yet. Why prematurely take away Stone’s ability to further incriminate himself?
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report