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Judge imposes sweeping gag order on Roger Stone

After going after the judge in his own trial via social media, Roger Stone was back in court today. All things considered, the outcome could've been much worse.
Image: Trump Confidant Roger Stone Testifies Before House Intelligence Committee
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 26: Roger Stone, former confidant to President Trump speaks to the media after appearing before the House Intelligence Committee...

Last week, U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson released Roger Stone from federal custody, but imposed a limited gag order on the longtime Republican operative. Stone, facing federal obstruction, giving false statements, and witness tampering charges, was told he couldn't comment on his case from the courthouse.

In other words, the judge didn't want Stone creating a circus while entering or exiting the judicial building.

This week, however, Donald Trump's longtime associate thought it'd be a good idea to publish a photo of the judge in his case to one of his social-media accounts, alongside what appeared to be crosshairs near her head. It prompted a new court hearing and new restrictions on the defendant.

A federal judge ordered that longtime Republican operative and Trump confidant Roger Stone may not speak publicly about the investigation or case against him.Judge Amy Berman Jackson in Washington said it would be "foolhardy" to wait for Stone to transgress again in the wake of an Instagram post that appeared to show her photo near crosshairs and suggested both she and the special counsel were biased."I'm not giving you another chance," she said. "I have serious doubts whether you've learned any lesson at all."

There was a very real possibility that Stone could've been sent to jail today. With this in mind, the GOP operative has to be delighted that he's going home this afternoon.

Indeed, while Jackson was critical of Stone during today's court proceedings -- the judge specifically said his apologies rang "hollow" -- she also refrained from taking more serious steps against the defendant. Stone can continue to raise money for his defense fund, he can continue to speak on issues unrelated to his pending criminal charges, and he won't be stuck in jail ahead of his trial.

That said, Stone must understand at this point that he's on thin ice, and any additional transgressions would almost certainly land him behind bars.

Before Jackson announced the revised conditions of his release, Stone effectively groveled for a while, acknowledging the "stupidity" of his actions, lamenting his poor judgement, and conceding that he abused the court's trust.

If I had to guess, I'd say we will not see or hear from Stone again until his trial -- even if his lawyers have to handcuff and gag him.