A judge was hearing arguments Tuesday on the Fulton County prosecutor’s request to revoke bail for Harrison Floyd, one of former President Donald Trump’s 18 co-defendants in the Georgia election interference case, following social media posts that prosecutors called “intentional and egregious.” violations” of his bail conditions.
In a motion last week to revoke Floyd’s bail, Prosecutor Fani Willis’ office cited Floyd’s posts on X, formerly known as Twitter, targeting Georgia election officials such as the Secretary of State. State Brad Raffensperger and one of his top officials, Gabriel Sterling, and former election worker Ruby Freeman. Sterling was seen at the courthouse before the hearing with an attorney from Raffensperger’s office.
Floyd, who wore a bright green blazer, appeared relaxed as he waited for the hearing to begin, drinking an NOS energy drink and reading a book titled “How to Think Like a Roman Emperor: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius.” Willis was also present in the courtroom and handled arguments for her office.
“We are asking that his bond be revoked and that he be remanded into custody,” Willis told Judge Scott McAfee at the start of the hearing. They called three witnesses, including Sterling.
The first witness called was Michael Hill, a deputy chief in Willis’ office, who testified to the authenticity and content of Floyd’s messages on X, formerly known as Twitter.
Hill read aloud a series of messages from Floyd. He said he heard from the lawyer for Jenna Ellis – who was originally one of 19 defendants in the case but became a witness after pleading guilty last month – that Ellis believed the messages about her were intended to intimidate him.
“So in the post, Ms. Jenna Ellis says, ‘I saw it a few days after it was posted. Yes, I believe it was intended both to intimidate and harass me and also to encourage others to harass me, which others have done in the comments and in separate posts,’ Hill said in reading a text he received Tuesday morning.
During cross-examination of Hill, Floyd’s attorney John Morrison asked whether Floyd sent a witness a direct message about X. Hill said he couldn’t say he did.
Morrison said tagging someone in a tweet is how you reference them, not necessarily how you contact them directly. Hill said that in this case, Floyd used the tagging feature to reference and communicate with witnesses.
Willis noted that Floyd was prohibited from communicating directly or indirectly with witnesses. After Willis ordered Hill to read aloud a condition of Floyd’s bond, Hill testified that Ellis, Sterling and Freeman were witnesses.
Willis asked Hill, “Is this the culture of social media when someone posts and other people respond?” He replied, “That’s right.”
Sterling, a top Georgia elections official, was called as a second witness. Willis asked Sterling if he saw it when someone tagged him in a post on X, and he said yes.
Morrison then asked Sterling if he wasn’t a fan of Trump, Willis objected.
“These messages are not threatening to you. They may not be nice, but they don’t threaten or intimidate you, right? Morrison asked Sterling.
Sterling responded: “That’s normal when you’re a public figure. »
Sterling said he usually looks at who tags him in tweets. Morrison asked if he would contact law enforcement if he felt threatened, Sterling said yes, but he did not in this case.
Von DuBose, attorney for Ruby Freeman, was called as a third witness.
DuBose said he has a third-party service that monitors threat levels against Freeman and his mother Shaye Moss for spikes, adding that it is a service recommended by the FBI.
DuBose testified that there was an increased level of threat related to Floyd’s messages. “So that got our attention, we were very concerned about it and we wanted to make sure we responded to it appropriately,” DuBose said, adding that some safety measures were taken at that time.
Morrison asked DuBose if Freeman had called the police about the high threat level. DuBose said “no.”
In court documents, Willis claimed: “Since November 1, 2023, the defendant has publicly tweeted multiple times from the Twitter account @hw_floyd with the intent of intimidating co-defendants and witnesses, directly and indirectly communicating with co-defendants and witnesses, and to otherwise obstruct. the administration of justice. »
“As noted above, since his release, the defendant has engaged in a pattern of intimidation of known co-defendants and witnesses, direct and indirect communication of the facts of this case to co-defendants and witnesses known, and obstruction of the administration of justice. in direct violation of the order of this Court,” she continued.
In his filing, Willis cited more than 15 comments from Floyd in a series of posts on X as well as an appearance on a podcast. One of Floyd’s messages that Willis said constituted “an act to intimidate known witnesses and communicate directly with known witnesses about the facts of the case” read: “Forward this to @GaSecofState and @GabrielSterling.” Should they be more concerned about election interference, perjury before Congress, lying to prosecutor Fani Willis, or all of the above?
Floyd posted the comment earlier this month in response to a user who suggested he “get some decent legal advice before you end up spending 20 years in prison for someone who doesn’t care about your sorry* *”.
Floyd’s lawyers denied in a filing Monday that his social media posts violated his bond order and said the request was “retaliatory action” against him.
“In exercising his First Amendment rights, Mr. Floyd did not threaten or intimidate anyone, and he certainly did not communicate with any witness or co-defendant directly or indirectly. He has no idea who the State’s witnesses are at this point,” they wrote in the filing. “If this was indeed a problem, the State had every chance of informing Mr. Floyd or his attorney that his social media posts were a problem.”
Floyd’s lawyers said he was in plea negotiations just “a few weeks ago” and that Willis’ office did not mention the social media posts mentioned in the motion to revoke his bond.
“All of Mr. Floyd’s messages constitute political speech, the touchstone of First Amendment guarantees,” they wrote. “None of them contain any threat of force that would cause a reasonable person to believe that the messages were in any way intimidating or illegal.”
In response to allegations that his tweets about Freeman were an attempt to intimidate him, Floyd’s lawyers also argued that Freeman’s testimony was actually helpful to his case.
“Mr. Floyd’s position is that Ms. Freeman is a valuable witness for the defense – not a favorable witness for the prosecution. There is no chance that Mr. Floyd would want to intimidate Ms. Freeman,” they wrote.
Floyd’s lawyers also asked prosecutors to show evidence that Freeman was harmed by their client’s posts and asked Judge Scott McAfee to deny the motion or include language that would “mirror” the order bail bond for former President Donald Trump.
Prosecutors in the Georgia election interference case have accused Floyd of being involved in a scheme to pressure Freeman into making false statements. Trump and his allies had falsely accused Freeman of fraud in the 2020 election.
Floyd, the former leader of Black Voices for Trump, was the only defendant in the case who was detained after turning himself in in August. All other defendants, including Trump, were released on bail after being incarcerated. Floyd was told during his first court appearance that he would remain in the Fulton County Jail because he was considered a potential flight risk.
Floyd negotiated bail a few days later. McAfee set Floyd’s bail at $100,000, including $40,000 for racketeering charges and $30,000 each for a charge of influencing witnesses and a charge of conspiracy to solicit false statements and forgery writings.