The judge overseeing the Fulton County election racketeering case declined Tuesday to send one of Donald Trump’s co-defendants to jail over recent social media posts and other comments he made targeting witnesses.
Judge Scott McAfee said that while the defendant, Harrison Floyd, made “technical violations” of his bond agreement, “not every violation compels revocation.”
The judge, however, modified Floyd’s bond agreement, adding a restriction on his social media activity. Floyd is prohibited from making any social media post “of any kind on any platform, whether public or private, concerning any codefendant or witness in this case or concerning any person specifically named in the indictment,” according to the modified bond agreement.
Fulton County prosecutors had asked McAfee to revoke Floyd’s bond, arguing that he’s violated the terms of the agreement meant to keep him out of jail because of his alleged “effort to intimidate codefendants and witnesses.”
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis personally argued the case Tuesday, the first time she has appeared in court for a pre-trial hearing in the sprawling election subversion racketeering case.
“What we are really here to decide today is does this order mean something or not. He does not get an ‘oh, I’m sorry,’ after I’ve already intimidated the witnesses in this case,” Willis said. “It is too late.”
Had McAfee granted prosecutors’ requests, Floyd would have been the first defendant to be jailed for their actions related to the case – a move that would have sent a strong message to the other defendants that prosecutors are closely watching their public maneuverings as the criminal case unfolds.
“He was given an opportunity to cooperate with the rules of this case and what he really did was spit on the court and refuse to oblige by three of the seven conditions of this bond order,” Willis said.
Floyd, who has pleaded not guilty to three state felonies, has before been behind bars after being indicted earlier this year. The only defendant to have spent time in jail in connection with the case, Floyd was incarcerated at the Fulton County Jail for one week in August before reaching a bond deal with prosecutors.
The felonies Floyd faces in the case are largely tied to his role in an intimidation campaign targeting two Atlanta election workers in late 2020. Trump and his allies falsely accused the workers of massive voter fraud.
The leader of Black Voices for Trump, Floyd was separately charged in May with simple assault of a federal officer who was delivering a subpoena to him to testify before a grand jury in Washington, DC. He has not entered a plea in that case.
Floyd’s attorneys on Monday pushed back hard against prosecutors’ bid to jail him, telling McAfee that they were doing so out of retaliation after he rejected a plea deal offer. They also draw comparisons to Trump’s public comments about the case, suggesting that prosecutors’ decision to not go after Trump was evidence of a double standard.
“A review of President Trump’s social media posts make the State’s decision to go after Harrison Floyd hard to justify,” Floyd’s attorneys wrote, citing several posts from Trump about Sidney Powell, an attorney who recently pleaded guilty in the case, as well as Mark Meadows, his former chief of staff and current co-defendant.
“None of these posts amount to a threat or intimidation,” Floyd’s attorney Chris Kachouroff said of his client’s posts on Tuesday, noting that none of the witnesses presented in court contacted authorities about the case.
“We need to give Floyd the benefit of the doubt,” Kachouroff later added. “Did he walk up close to the line? Yes.”
In their request last week, Fulton County prosecutors highlighted Floyd’s recent social media posts about Georgia election officials who are likely to be called as witnesses in the case, as well as his recent comments on a conservative podcast about Jenna Ellis, who pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate.
“The Defendant’s actions demonstrate that he poses a significant threat of intimidating witnesses and otherwise obstructing the administration of justice in the future, making him ineligible for bond,” they wrote in the court filing.
In one recent post, Floyd questioned why his team was accused of leaking videos of conversations between another defendant and prosecutors, invoking Georgia election worker Ruby Freeman, who is a witness in the case.
“Why would my team leak Jenna Ellis & proffer videos when there is better stuff? For instance, Ruby Freeman’s job was the reconciliation of ballots,” he wrote. “She wasn’t even supposed to be on a scanner !!!!!!”
Poop emojis and potential threats
Michael Hill, an assistant chief investigator in Fulton County testified about Floyd’s recent social media posts on X about the case, with the witnesses reading aloud each post, at times taking care to translate internet-speak to adhere to courtroom decorum.
“The content is as follows: ‘Black American Dems want the ‘Black Trump Guy’ to tell on the ‘RACIST WHITE REPUBLICANS’ but only if it’s President Trump? Lol, look, the truth is that @GASecofState and @GabrielSterling are the pieces of’ – and it’s a …” Hill read, before Willis interjected.
“Emoji – can you just spell that word as opposed to putting profanity in the record,” she said.
“Yes, ma’am. It’s an emoji of poop or fecal matter emoji,” Hill said. “’They are the pieces of – that emoji – you should be mad at.’”
Later during the hearing, Willis called Gabriel Sterling, an election official in the state who testified that while it’s common for people to tag him in posts on X, he generally doesn’t put much stock into the public comments directed at him.
“It’s par for the course when you’re a public figure,” Sterling told Floyd’s attorney when he asked if his client’s posts are “threatening and intimidating” to him.
State witness Von DuBose, who represents Ruby Freeman, a witness in the racketeering case, said that social media posts about his client have caused her to take some precautions, including relocating from her home.
He said that Floyd’s posts about Freeman have led to a “spike” in online activity targeting Freeman.
“This is the beginning of potential threats,” he said, adding that their concerns resulted in them taking more security precautions for Freeman.
This story has been updated with additional developments.
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