A judge on Tuesday ordered the bail conditions of Harrison Floyd, one of former President Donald Trump’s co-defendants in the Georgia election interference case, to be changed due to social media posts that prosecutors from the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office described as “willful and blatant.” “ denoted “violations” of the conditions of his release.
Supreme Court Justice Scott McAfee said the posts may have been a “technical violation” of Floyd’s bond, but “not every violation compels a revocation.” He said the current bail order does not take into account the “nuances” of social media and he did not view Floyd’s posts as witness intimidation. “I read this as someone wanting to defend their case very publicly,” McAfee said.
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis had argued that Floyd should be jailed immediately because of his social media posts about witnesses in the case, including former poll worker Ruby Freeman, and made it clear to the judge that she was impressed by the sentence be disappointed.
“Of course we are very concerned for the safety of Miss Ruby Freeman. She’s obviously endured enough. And this behavior is off-putting not only to them, but to other people who want to serve in their capacity,” Willis said.
The judge approved a temporarily modified bail order after the hearing with more explicit restrictions on Floyd’s posting until both sides could agree on more specific language.
In a motion last week to revoke Floyd’s bail, Willis’ office cited Floyd’s posts on X, formerly known as Twitter, that targeted Georgia election officials such as Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and one of his top officials, Gabriel Sterling, and Freeman.
Floyd, wearing a lime green blazer, appeared relaxed as he waited for the hearing to begin, sipping a NOS energy drink and reading a book titled “How to Think Like a Roman Emperor: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius.” . Willis was also in the courtroom, handling arguments for her office.
“We are asking that his bail be revoked and that he be remanded in custody,” Willis told the judge at the start of the hearing. They called three witnesses, including Sterling.
The first witness was Michael Hill, a deputy boss in Willis’ office, who testified about the authenticity and content of Floyd’s posts on X and read a number of them aloud. He said he heard from the attorney for Jenna Ellis – who was originally one of the 19 defendants in the case but became a witness after she pleaded guilty last month – that Ellis believed the posts about her were intended to intimidate her .
“In the message, Ms. Jenna Ellis says, ‘I saw it a few days after it was published.’ “Yes, I believe it was intended to both intimidate and harass me and also encourage others to harass me, which is what others have done in the comments and individual posts,” Hill said while reading a text message he received Tuesday morning.
During cross-examination by Hill, Floyd’s attorney, John Morrison, asked whether Floyd had sent a witness a direct message about X. Hill said he couldn’t say.
Morrison said tagging a person in a tweet is intended to reference them, not necessarily to contact them directly. Hill said in this case, Floyd used the tagging feature to refer to and communicate with witnesses.
Willis noted that Floyd was prohibited from communicating directly or indirectly with witnesses. After Willis instructed Hill to read a condition of Floyd’s bond, Hill testified that Ellis, Sterling and Freeman were witnesses.
Willis asked Hill, “Is it the culture of social media when someone posts something and other people respond?” He replied, “That’s true.”
Sterling, a senior election official in Georgia, was called as a second witness. Willis asked Sterling if he sees it when someone tags him on an X in a post, and he said yes.
Morrison then asked Sterling if he wasn’t a fan of Trump, Willis demurred.
“These posts do not threaten you. “They may not be nice, but they don’t seem threatening or intimidating to you, do they?” Morrison asked Sterling.
Sterling replied: “That’s par for the course when you’re a public figure.”
Sterling said he generally pays attention to who tags him in tweets. Morrison asked if he would contact law enforcement if he felt threatened. Sterling said yes, but that was not the case in this case.
The third witness called was DuBose, an attorney for Freeman.
DuBose said he has an outside service that monitors threat levels against Freeman and her mother, Shaye Moss, to look for spikes, adding that it is a service recommended by the FBI.
DuBose testified that there was an increase in threats related to Floyd’s posts. “This caught our attention, we were very concerned about it and wanted to make sure we addressed it appropriately,” DuBose said, adding that some safety measures were in place at the time.
Morrison asked DuBose if Freeman had called police because of the increase in threat level. DuBose said “No.”
In court documents, Willis stated: “Since November 1, 2023, the defendant has publicly tweeted on the Twitter account @hw_floyd on multiple occasions to intimidate, communicate directly and indirectly with, and otherwise obstruct co-defendants and witnesses Administration of justice.”
“As stated above, since his release from custody, the defendant has engaged in a pattern of intimidation of known co-defendants and witnesses, of directly and indirectly communicating the facts of this case to known co-defendants and witnesses, and of obstructing the administration of justice.” This constitutes a direct violation against the order of this court,” she continued.
In her 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 posts, which Willis claimed was “an act of intimidation of known witnesses and communicating directly with known witnesses about the facts of the case,” read: “I’m passing this on to @GaSecofState and @GabrielSterling. Should they be more worried about interfering in elections, perjuring themselves before Congress, lying to Attorney General Fani Willis, or all of the above?”
Floyd posted the comment earlier this month in response to a user who suggested he “get some good legal advice before spending 20 years in prison for someone who doesn’t care about your suffering.”
Floyd’s lawyers denied in a filing Monday that his social media posts violated his bail order, saying the request was a “retaliatory measure” against him.
“In exercising his First Amendment rights, Mr. Floyd did not threaten or intimidate anyone, and he certainly did not communicate directly or indirectly with any witness or co-defendant. “He has absolutely no idea who the state’s witnesses are at this point,” they wrote in the filing. “If this was truly a problem, the state had every opportunity to inform Mr. Floyd or his attorney that his social media posts were a problem.”
Floyd’s lawyers said he was in plea bargain negotiations just “a few weeks ago” and that Willis’ office made no mention of the social media posts referenced in the motion to revoke his bail.
“All of Mr. Floyd’s posts constitute political speech, the touchstone of the guarantees of the First Amendment,” they wrote. “None of them contain a threat of violence that would lead a reasonable person to believe that the posts were in any way intimidating or unlawful.”
In response to allegations that his tweets about Freeman were an attempt to intimidate them, Floyd’s lawyers also argued that Freeman’s testimony was actually helpful to his case.
“Mr Floyd takes the position that Ms Freeman is a valuable defense witness – not a pro-prosecution witness. “There is no chance that Mr. Floyd wishes to intimidate Ms. Freeman,” they wrote.
Floyd’s lawyers also asked prosecutors to provide evidence that Freeman was harmed by their client’s posts and asked McAfee to deny the request or include language that would “mirror” former President Donald Trump’s bail order.
Prosecutors in the Georgia election interference case have accused Floyd of participating in a plan to pressure Freeman into making false statements. Trump and his allies had falsely accused Freeman of 2020 election fraud.
Floyd, the former leader of Black Voices for Trump, was the only defendant in the case held in prison after his surrender in August. All other defendants, including Trump, were released on bail after their arraignment. Floyd was informed during his first court appearance that he would remain in the Fulton County Jail because he was considered a potential flight risk.
Floyd negotiated bond days later. McAfee set Floyd’s bail at $100,000 – $40,000 each for extortion and $30,000 each for influencing witnesses and conspiracy to solicit false statements and writings.