Politics

Two of Roger Stone's websites deleted as Robert Mueller flags judge to possible gag-order violation by Trump friend

Key Points
  • Stone, a longtime friend of President Donald Trump, in the past several days deletes two websites set up to raise funds for his legal defense.
  • One of those deletions apparently occurs after CNBC reports Sunday that Stone might have violated the terms of his judicial gag order by posting an image on his Instagram account asking "Who framed Roger Stone."
  • That possible violation is noted to the judge in his case Monday by special counsel Robert Mueller, whose office is prosecuting Stone for lying to Congress, witness tampering and other crimes.
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Trump associate Roger Stone arrested for allegedly lying in Mueller's investigation

Two websites used by President Donald Trump's longtime friend Roger Stone to raise funds for his defense against criminal charges lodged by special counsel Robert Mueller and in civil cases have been deleted.

At least one of those deletions apparently occurred after CNBC reported Sunday that the Republican operative might have violated the terms of his judicial gag order by posting an image on his Instagram account asking "Who framed Roger Stone."

Another of Stone's websites, which itself was titled whoframedrogerstone.com, has also been deleted.

The possible gag-order violation was noted to the judge in his case Monday by Mueller, who has charged Stone in Washington, D.C., federal court with lying to Congress, witness tampering and other crimes.

If Judge Amy Berman Jackson finds that Stone broke the gag order, she could revoke his $250,000 signature release bond and send him to jail pending trial.

Last year, Jackson jailed Stone's former lobbying partner and ex-Trump campaign boss Paul Manafort after he tried to tamper with a witness in the criminal case against him.

On Feb. 21, Jackson barred Stone from criticizing Mueller's team or the case against him.

She imposed that gag order after Stone posted an image on Instagram showing Jackson's face next to a rifle scope crosshair.

Stone, who has pleaded not guilty in his case, has several websites set up in his name.

One, stonezone.com, was operating as of late Sunday, according to data from the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine, which regularly scrapes images of websites.

But on Tuesday, visitors to that page were greeted by a message saying, "This page isn't working. www.stonezone.com is currently unable to handle this request. HTTP ERROR 500."

The other site, whoframedrogerstone.com, was operating as of Feb. 6, according to the Wayback Machine.

It is not clear when that site was pulled down. But visitors to that address on Tuesday saw the message: "403 - Forbidden Error. You are not allowed to access this address. If the error persists, please contact the website webmaster."

Stone on Sunday deleted the "Who framed Roger Stone" image from a series of other rotating images on his Instagram story shortly after CNBC sent an email to his lawyer asking about it.

In a court filing to Jackson on Monday, Mueller cited CNBC's story detailing the Instagram post by Stone but did not ask the judge to rule that Stone broke her gag order.

Another Stone website, stonecoldtruth.com, remained online Tuesday, as does stonedefensefund.com.

Both of those active sites contain links for visitors to donate to his legal defense, as does Stone's active Facebook page. However, Stone has significantly changed the language on one of his remaining legal fundraising sites, apparently to comply with the gag order.

Stone's site stonedefensefund.com previously had said that "despite a lack of evidence of Russian Collusion, Wikileaks collaboration or any other illegal activity in the 2016 election, long time Trump advisor Roger Stone has been targeted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller."

"Mueller seeks to criminalize normal political activities by Roger Stone while ignoring the blatantly illegal activities of the Clinton campaign and the Obama NSA,DOJ and FBI," that site said.

Stonedefensefund.com has since changed that section to say: "Mrs. Stone and I want to thank so many of you for your thoughts and prayers. it is a very challenging and difficult time for us. I need your help to clear my name."

When CNBC emailed Stone on Tuesday to ask about the two deleted sites, Stone replied with an email that had no words in it.

Michael Caputo, a New York Republican operative who has remained involved in Stone's legal-defense fundraising, told CNBC that he has not spoken to Stone since his arrest in January and that he did not know why the two sites were deleted.

Stone's lawyers did not reply to a request for comment.

A spokesman for Mueller declined to comment.

Mueller claims Stone lied to Congress about his alleged effort to get the document-disclosure advocacy group WikiLeaks to release emails hacked by Russian agents from Democrats, including Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman, during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Stone is alleged to have been in contact with top-ranking Trump campaign officials about efforts to leak damaging information about Clinton.