U.S. President Donald Trump’s former adviser Roger Stone will go to trial on Nov. 5, a federal judge said on Thursday, making it likely that the legal fallout from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe will stretch through much of 2019.
Stone, a self-proclaimed political “dirty trickster,” pleaded not guilty on Jan. 29 to lying to Congress, obstructing an official proceeding and witness tampering. Those charges were brought by Mueller’s team in its probe into whether the Trump campaign worked with Russia to win the 2016 election.
Stone is a longtime Republican operative who had advised Trump intermittently for decades. According to the charges, Stone lied about his communications with WikiLeaks, the web site that released hacked emails from Democratic rival Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson also cautioned Republican political operative Stone that he must obey an order that prohibits him from criticizing his case.
“I expect compliance,” Jackson said.
Jackson had previously tightened the gag order limiting Stone’s public comments on the case after he posted a photo of her on his Instagram account next to an image resembling the crosshairs of a gun.
She questioned why Stone released a book criticizing Mueller’s investigation after the gag order was issued, but opted not to send Stone to jail for violating it.
At the end the hearing, Stone raise his right hand and swore he would comply with the terms of his release.
Stone is the 34th person to face charges as part of Mueller’s investigation.
Trump has denied any collusion with Russia occurred and has repeatedly called Mueller’s probe a “witch hunt.” Russia denies interfering in the election.
Mueller is widely expected to wrap up the probe soon. One of his top attorneys, Andrew Weissmann, is wrapping up his work with the investigation, spokesman Peter Carr said on Thursday.
Mueller is due to submit his findings to Attorney General William Barr, and Democrats have been pressing Barr to make those findings public as they pursue their own investigations into Trump’s political and business operations.
Lawyers on Mueller’s team told Jackson they had already shared 9 terabytes of evidence with Stone’s lawyers.
That would amount to a stack of paper twice as high as the Washington Monument, defense lawyer Robert Buschel said.
(Additional reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Doina Chiacu and Alistair Bell)