On Monday, indicted Donald Trump adviser Roger Stone was forced to submit a formal apology to the judge in his case, as the Inquisitr reported, for posting what he claimed was “a random photo taken from the internet” to his Instagram account.
The image, reproduced online by the site Mediaite, despite having been quickly deleted by Stone, showed a photo of United States District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson with a crosshairs symbol directly adjacent to the image of her head. In his comment along with the photo, Stone accused Jackson of running a “show trial” in his case, and claiming that the “fix is in.”
Nonetheless, in his apology (posted on Twitter by Politico reporter Kyle Cheney) Stone claimed that he had “no intention of disrespecting the court.”
Now, according to a report by the legal news site Law & Crime, it appears that the image of Jackson may not have been as “random” as Stone claimed. Using Google Image Search to trace the origin of the doctored photo, the site found that it appeared two weeks before it was posted by Stone on a disinformation “news” site based in Moscow, Russia.
Stone was indicted by Russia investigation Special Counsel Robert Mueller for lying to Congress about his possible role in the release by WikiLeaks of emails stolen by Russian hackers during the 2016 election campaign, as the Inquisitr earlier reported.
The Google search found the image of Jackson, complete with gun-sight style crosshairs logo, in a February 4 post on the site TheRussophile.org, which describes itself as an “aggregator of news about Russia from alternative sources. We also aim to cover news from neighboring countries and countries connected with Russian interests, like Syria, China, Iran etc,” the site says.
According to the internet domain registration database ICANN WHOIS, TheRussophile.org has a mailing address listed as Moscow, Russia.
In a later Instagram post, Stone claimed that the “crosshairs” logo was not meant as a threat against Jackson, but was “the logo of the organization that originally posted” the image. “Something called Corruption Central,” Stone wrote.
Before appearing on the Russia-based site, according to Law & Crime, the crosshairs image of Jackson first appeared on a site called Aim4Ttruth.org, which is in turn owned by a group called American Intelligence Media, which says in its mission statement, “Citizens are rewriting history–real time, based on truth, not on the lies of the main stream media and government controlled propaganda.”
An ICANN WHOIS lookup shows an Arizona address for the site, but Arizona is also where the headquarters of Godaddy.com, which registered the site, is located.
According to a New York Times report in September, Russian disinformation “news” sites have often hidden their origins, portraying themselves as American-based sites and even taking patriotic-seeming names. But whether Aim4Ttruth.org is secretly based in Russia or controlled by Russian interests so far remains undetermined.