Updated at 12:00 pm E.T. on February 19, 2019.
Roger Stone, the trash-talking, Richard Nixon–tattooed Donald Trump adviser recently indicted for lying to Congress and threatening a witness, had an eventful Presidents’ Day. In the space of time you or I might enjoy a leisurely brunch, Stone posted an online attack on United States District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who is presiding in his case, then altered the post, deleted the post, offered a defense for the post, and finally had his lawyers file a “notice of apology” for the post in federal court. None of this is normal, not even in 2019.
This surreal chain of events began—as many do—on Stone’s Instagram page, where he has been relentlessly decrying his prosecution and soliciting defense funds. “Through legal trickery Deep State hitman Robert Mueller has guaranteed that my upcoming show trial is before Judge Amy Berman Jackson, an Obama appointed Judge who dismissed the Benghazi charges against Hillary Clinton and incarcerated Paul Manafort prior to his conviction for any crime,” Stone proclaimed. He added a picture of Jackson with a small symbol in the upper-left-hand corner—a cross in a circle, or, according to some, crosshairs.
Stone’s gripe is nonsense. Jackson caught Stone’s case because she was previously assigned a related case, an utterly routine practice in federal court. She revoked Paul Manafort’s bond and jailed him before trial because he tampered with witnesses, which will get you detained by any judge no matter who appointed her. Jackson didn’t “dismiss the Benghazi charges against Hillary Clinton,” because Clinton was never charged with a crime. Rather, she dismissed a civil lawsuit against Clinton on the rather mundane grounds that it was barred by the Federal Employees Liability Reform and Tort Compensation Act of 1988, which makes suing federal employees for things they did in the course of their job very difficult. Stone’s post was more of his customary legal fabulism.