In a fiery presentation in court, the prosecutor overseeing the Georgia racketeering case against former President Donald J. Trump argued Tuesday that one of Mr. Trump’s co-defendants intimidated potential witnesses on social media and should be sent to prison.
But Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee chose not to revoke bond for Harrison Floyd, the co-defendant. Instead, he signed amended terms prohibiting Mr. Floyd from publishing further comments about witnesses in the case.
Fani T. Willis, the prosecutor in Fulton County, Georgia, took the unusual step of personally entering a plea on behalf of the prosecution, days after filing a motion accusing Mr. Floyd of intimidating an election worker and other prosecution witnesses. State – including Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger – through his posts on X, formerly known as Twitter.
Mr Floyd’s lawyers stressed that Mr Trump himself had posted provocative messages on social media about the Georgia affair and that no action had been taken against him. This, they argued, makes “the state’s decision to go after Harrison Floyd difficult to justify.”
They also argued that Mr. Floyd did not try to intimidate or threaten anyone with his messages. But they acknowledged at the end of Tuesday’s hearing that he had come “close to the threshold” of violating the terms of his bail.
Mr. Floyd, once the leader of a group called Black Voices for Trump, was paid by the 2020 Trump campaign. He is among 19 people, including the former president, who have been named as defendants in an act of 98-page racketeering indictment in August.
The indictment accuses them of orchestrating a “criminal enterprise” to overturn the results of Georgia’s 2020 election. Four of the defendants pleaded guilty and promised to cooperate with prosecutors.
In addition to a state racketeering charge, Mr. Floyd faces two other counts in this case, for his role in what the indictment describes as a scheme to intimidate Ruby Freeman, a Fulton County election worker, and pressuring her to falsely claim she had committed voter fraud.
Ms. Freeman and her daughter were part of a team processing ballots in Fulton County on election night in November 2020. Shortly afterward, video footage of the two women handling ballots was posted online, and Trump supporters falsely claimed that the video showed them entering fake ballots. votes to skew the election in favor of President Biden.
Ms. Freeman was the target of so many threats that she was forced to leave her home.
Her lawyer was a prosecution witness at Tuesday’s hearing, producing a report he said showed a recent “surge” in online mentions of Ms Freeman. The increase led her to adopt a new set of security measures, her lawyer said.
Mr. Floyd’s lawyers, John Morrison and Chris Kachouroff, called the attempt to revoke his bail a “retaliatory measure” — in part, they said, because Mr. Floyd recently refused a plea deal offered by the state.
They argued that “tagging” people in messages did not constitute contact with witnesses and was no different from shouting “a message to someone else sitting across a Mercedes stadium -Crowded Benz in the middle of an Atlanta Falcons football game.” »
Ms. Willis responded that “this idea that marking someone doesn’t send a message to them is just crazy.” She also called Mr Floyd’s messages “disgusting”, adding that “what he actually did was spit on the ground”.
And she was explicit about the issues as she saw them: Election workers, she said, should not be intimidated in doing their jobs.
Judge McAfee said it appeared Mr Floyd had committed a “technical violation” of his bond by communicating with witnesses in the case, but appeared reluctant to make the decision to jail Mr Floyd. “Not all violations result in revocation,” he said.
Ms. Willis’ tough stance on Mr. Floyd’s messages could have repercussions for Mr. Trump, who is embroiled in battles over silence orders in other civil and criminal cases against him. Mr. Trump’s bail agreement in Georgia specifies that he “will not do any act,” including posting on social media, “to intimidate any person he knows to be a co-defendant or witness in this case or to otherwise obstruct the administration of justice.”
Mr. Floyd was the only one of the original 19 co-defendants in Georgia to spend days in jail in August while waiting to post bail. At Tuesday’s hearing, he appeared colorful at the defense table, wearing a green blazer decorated with polo horses. Before the hearing began, he appeared to be reading a book about the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius.
As the two sides hammered out the new terms of the bond deal, Ms. Willis referred to “Trump,” prompting Mr. Floyd to interject: “President Trump.”
The judge told Mr Floyd it was not his place to speak.