Roger Stone today is sitting in a D.C. federal court begging a judge not to crack down on him for being, well, Roger Stone. The Fort Lauderdale resident was arrested last month as part of Robert Mueller's investigation into alleged ties between the Trump administration and Russian hackers. After he was released on bail, Stone last week posted a photo on social media of the judge in his case, Amy Berman Jackson, next to an image of gun crosshairs. Whether intentional or not, the image seemed to be encouraging Stone's followers to shoot the judge.
In court today, Stone apologized profusely for his actions. Then he admitted something that most observers had expected for quite a while: He's working closely with various members of the Florida chapter of the Proud Boys, the hard-right, pro-Trump,
According to multiple reporters in the courtroom today, Stone has admitted he's coordinating extensively with the group. Stone even said that Jacob Engels — a notorious alt-right
Stone was asked in court today how he obtained the photo of Judge Jackson. He told the court he had been "sent" a series of images by multiple volunteers. He then named a few: Engels, Florida Proud Boys chapter founder Tyler Ziolkowski (who goes by “Tyler Whyte”), and Enrique Tarrio, the Miami Proud Boy who has become chairman of the national group. (Tarrio was caught on camera this week sitting behind Donald Trump during the president's Monday rally at Florida International University.) Stone did not say which volunteer sent him the image he posted online, but he admitted Engels and Tarrio have spent a good deal of time at his house.
Neither Engels nor Whyte responded to messages from New Times today. Reached by phone, Tarrio denied posting the image of Jackson but defended whoever did.
"I didn't post it," he said. "I know a few people have access." He added later he doesn't "see anything wrong with the picture. There's no crosshair over her head; it's an icon on the top right."
But Judge Jackson disagreed, and even Stone himself apologized today for his conduct.
But the news is unsurprising: Engels has long acknowledged he is a Stone protégé, and the Daily Beast reported earlier this year that Engels was beginning to function as Stone's "assistant." Engels also routinely appears alongside the Trump adviser at events — Engels was even in the D.C. courtroom today while Stone gave his testimony, though Engels refused to speak to reporters.
Florida's Proud Boys have spent the past few months defending Stone in public. After Stone was arrested January 25, Tarrio and other Florida Proud Boys showed up outside the courtroom in shirts emblazoned with the message "Roger Stone did nothing wrong." Tarrio wore the same shirt at Monday's Trump rally. Stone has also posted multiple images of himself hanging out with Proud Boys in South Florida.
New Times previously dug into the backgrounds of Tarrio and Engels. Before joining the Proud Boys, Tarrio was caught committing a few crimes, including stealing a motorcycle and selling stolen diabetic test strips online. (He was sentenced to 16 months in prison in the latter case.) He told New Times he joined the Proud Boys — a self-described "Western chauvinist" group that rails against feminism and tells followers it's "OK to be white" — after attending a 2017 party in Miami with disgraced alt-right personality Milo Yiannopoulos. Tarrio identifies as Afro-Cuban, but other members of the group have repeatedly been linked to harder-core white-supremacist groups — and to acts of violence. Former Vice magazine founder Gavin McInnes started the group, but even McInnes "left" the group after some Proud Boys were filmed beating counter-protesters in New York City.
Engels, meanwhile, claims to be a reporter "embedded" within the Proud Boys but in
Stone's pleas and apologies today did not convince Judge Jackson. Although Stone apologized and claimed he is now broke and struggling to pay his bills, she ordered him to stop discussing his case in public.