As the government investigated Roger Stone, his associates and his personal secretary, his lawyer and a lawyer at the Justice Department often battled each other in federal court in Washington over which documents would be made public.
But on March 5, 2018, a lawyer at the Justice Department told lawyers for CNN, a news organization that had been reporting on Mr. Stone’s connections to WikiLeaks, that his office had the authority to gagging the network’s lawyers in court.
While CNN was barred from being able to question lawyers for the government in court, lawyers from the news organization refused to give up any of the documents that they believed would shed light on the government’s interest in Mr. Stone. CNN has described the Justice Department’s interpretation of the rules as an attempt to silence the network’s reporters.
CNN and the Justice Department are seeking different interpretations of the Civil Liability Capability Act, a law created in the 1950s to cover libel and slander but that can now be used to detain people to avoid showing up in court for a criminal investigation.
A decision by U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta in Alexandria, Va., has allowed CNN to continue to pursue the issue in court, but said he would block CNN from making other disclosures that Justice Department lawyers believed would compromise the government’s investigation.