|© RICHARD CODOR. USED WITH PERMISSION.|
When is an apology not an apology? When it comes from Roger Stone.
The notorious dirty trickster, serial liar, witness tamperer, convicted felon-in-waiting and Donald Trump's longest serving adviser is back in the news -- which is right where he wants to be -- following an Instagram post with the name and face of U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, the judge overseeing his criminal case, as well as one of Stone pal and former campaign manager Paul Manafort's legal train wrecks. Accompanying the image was a crosshair symbol mimicking a rifle scope (as in Jackson ought to be shot) and a rant about a gag order she had imposed on him.
"Through legal trickery Deep State hitman Robert Mueller has guaranteed that my upcoming show trial is before Judge Amy Berman Jackson," Stone wrote, adding that Jackson is "an Obama appointed judge" and the "#fixisin."
Stone deleted the crosshairs and then the picture itself after posting them on Monday, later disingenuously explaining that the crosshairs "is evidently more a Celtic symbol," and later still an "occult symbol."
His lawyers then filed with Berman's court a confection they called a Notice of Apology, which was not technically a legal document but did include a signed statement from Stone saying, "Please inform the court that the photograph and comment today was improper and should not have been posted. I had no intention of disrespecting the court and humbly apologize to the court for the transgression."
Stone, of course, had every intention of disrespecting Berman in inviting people to shoot her. And in doing so succeeded in his goal, which was to generate reams of news coverage, try to warp the jury pool for when he goes to trial, and call attention to Trump's Last Stand.
The president, of course, is neck deep in the Russia scandal. About all he has left by way of a defense is to claim, as he has relentlessly done with the help of alpha poodle Senator Lindsey Graham and now Stone, among others, that the scandal is a deep-state coup d'état engineered by Special Counsel Mueller and the FBI to avenge Hillary Clinton's defeat.
(Side note: In May 2017, then-deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe notified the so-called Gang of Eight, the top-ranking congressfolk on intelligence committees, that a counterintelligence investigation into Trump had been launched after he fired FBI Director James Comey and was acting especially nutty, and there were no objections. So Republicans buying into the deep-state crap are being even more hypocritical than usual.)
Trump's Last Stand is a public relations strategy as much as a legal strategy.
It is a way for Trump to hold his "base" as he feverishly tries to rearrange deck chairs on the Ship of State, the indictments, convictions and news media blockbusters pile up, and he sees associate after associate turn on his sorry arse and decide to cooperate with the feds rather than go down with the ship.
The latest blockbuster broke on Tuesday when The New York Times reported that Trump - who of course would have nothing to worry about if he wasn't guilty as sin -- had made secret assaults on federal law enforcement to try to subvert various Russia and related investigations in addition to his known efforts. These assaults included asking Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker whether a perceived Trump loyalist could be put in charge of the widening investigation into his hush money payments.
Meanwhile, The Times reported, Trump has publicly attacked the Russia investigations over 1,ooo times.
Jackson had fired a warning shot over the bow of the Ship of State last week in ruling against a motion by Stone to have her replaced as judge on the case. She also imposed a gag order limiting the statements Stone can make at the federal courthouse, which is his version of a circus midway with himself as ringmaster.
Jackson warned Stone that she would be paying attention to his conduct.
"While it is not up to the court to advise the defendant as to whether a succession of public statements would be in his best interest at this time," wrote Jackson, "it notes that one factor that will be considered in the evaluation of any future request for relief based on pretrial publicity will be the extent to which the publicity was engendered by the defendant himself."
In other words, the more Stone runs his month, the less likely the court will look favorably on his requests for lenience or special treatment.
Jackson ordered Stone back to court in the wake of the Instagram dustup. On Thursday, he will have to explain to her why the gag order and the liberal conditions of his release after his January indictment should not be modified or revoked.
Lest we forget, that seven-count indictment alleges that Stone sought stolen emails from WikiLeaks to damage Clinton in coordination with senior Trump campaign officials and was in direct communication with Guccifer 2.0, a persona operated by Russia's GRU, 12 intelligence officers of which were indicted by Mueller in July on charges they hacked the computer networks of the Clinton campaign, Democratic National Committee and other Democratic organizations.
Berman has been scrupulously fair. In Manafort's sordid case, she has sometimes sided with his lawyers in pre-sentencing arguments over why he shouldn't spend the rest of his life in prison. So on Thursday, she'll likely give Stone more rope to hang himself, if not send him to jail as she did with Manafort when he gave the court the middle finger by blowing his home-confinement release by witness tampering.
Manafort is still in jail and probably will spend the rest of his life in prison. Stone understands the peril he is in, but still won't pass up yet another opportunity to blow his bugle for Trump's Last Stand.
Click HERE for a comprehensive timeline of the Russia scandal
and related developments.