A Georgia judge refused Tuesday to revoke bail for one of former President Trump’s co-defendants in his 2020 election subversion case, allowing him to remain free on bond ahead of a future trial.
Fulton County Judge Scott McAfee determined Tuesday that the bond agreement for Harrison Floyd, former leader of Black Voices for Trump, needed to be updated to reflect the “nuances of social media.” However, McAfee said he believed Floyd had indeed committed a “technical violation” of his bond.
“I think the bottom line of today’s hearing is that it’s very clear to me that this bond needs to be modified,” McAfee said.
McAfee approved a more detailed bond agreement provided by the state at the end of the hearing, although he said he would be open to changing it again in the future once prosecutors and the Floyd’s lawyer will have had more time to review the details.
Floyd was the first defendant threatened with pretrial detention because of social media posts that prosecutors say demonstrate attempts to intimidate future witnesses and communicate “directly and indirectly” with co-defendants in the case.
Fulton County Prosecutor Fani Willis (D) herself argued in favor of jailing Floyd before his trial, the first time she has done so in a hearing since filing the charges against Trump and 18 others.
His appearance Tuesday highlighted what already appeared to be a particularly contentious relationship between Willis and Floyd.
In August, Floyd was the only defendant to surrender without first negotiating a bail deal. He was detained for several days and blamed Willis.
In recent days, prosecutors appeared to insinuate that Floyd’s team leaked videos of co-defendants who pleaded guilty while being questioned by prosecutors. The lawyer for another defendant later admitted to leaking the videos.
Willis’ attempt to revoke Floyd’s bond was filed hours later, alleging his social media posts violated his conditions of release.
“What we’re really here to decide today is whether or not this order means anything,” Willis said, saying Floyd was “spitting on the court” by posting information about witnesses and witnesses online. co-defendants.
Floyd’s lawyers claimed state prosecutors sought to silence Floyd’s legal political speech. Trump’s co-defendant was present at Tuesday’s hearing, wearing a Kelly green suit jacket.
“None of these messages constitute a threat or intimidation,” said Chris Kachouroff, one of Floyd’s lawyers.
His lawyers also argued that tagging people involved in the case on social media was Floyd’s way of “referencing” them, not “communicating” with them. Willis pointed to the clause in Floyd’s pretrial release agreement prohibiting him from communicating “indirectly” with co-defendants or future witnesses, suggesting that tagging witnesses on social media qualifies as such behavior.
Well-known state witnesses — including Fulton County Election Officer Ruby Freeman, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and Gabe Sterling, director of operations for the Secretary of State’s office — were mentioned several times on the Floyd’s account on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.
“Look, the truth is @GaSecofState and @GabrielSterling are the pieces of (shit) you should be mad at,” Floyd tweeted on November 7, using a shit emoji to replace the expletive.
Sterling briefly testified Tuesday afternoon as a prosecution witness, and Willis asked him if he liked being called a “piece of fecal matter.”
“No, ma’am,” Sterling replied.
Willis also presented a text message from Jenna Ellis — a co-defendant in the case who recently pleaded guilty to lesser charges as part of a plea deal with the state — in which Ellis said Floyd’s messages about him were intended to “both intimidate and harass me.” and I also encourage others to harass me.
Michael Hill, an investigator in Willis’ office who worked on the case, and Von DuBose, an attorney representing Freeman, also testified at the hearing.
Floyd’s charges stem from his alleged efforts to convince Freeman to make false statements about the 2020 election operations, under the guise of offering assistance. He pleaded not guilty.
In Willis’ motion to revoke Floyd’s bail, she said the Trump co-defendant’s “intimidating communications” caused Freeman to be subjected to “further threats of violence” from third parties.
DuBose testified that Freeman and his daughter — Shaye Moss, another Fulton County election worker — employ a third-party vendor to monitor potential threats against them online. A spike in online activity followed Floyd’s posts about Freeman, forcing her attorney to take “precautions” to protect her because the spikes are usually followed by threats, DuBose said.
“There are real consequences to allowing defendants to intimidate witnesses,” Willis told the judge.
Floyd, who typically posted to X several times a day, continued to do so immediately after prosecutors filed their motion to revoke Floyd’s bond last Wednesday, but he has not posted since Friday.
Updated at 6:05 p.m.
Copyright 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.