During the 2016 presidential campaign, Douglass Mackey posted several memes on Twitter (pictured above) under the name "Ricky Vaughn" encouraging Hillary Clinton supporters to skip the voting line by voting via text to the number posted.
“Vote for Hillary and be a part of the history,” the post states with official-sounding, election-related information beneath it.
What was an obvious joke to some, if not all, was an act of voter suppression according to the DOJ. So Mackey is on trial this week in a federal court in New York.
“This complaint underscores the department’s commitment to investigating and prosecuting those who would undermine citizens’ voting rights,” a Justice Department official stated in the 2021 press release announcing Mackey’s arrest.
Witness withdraws after SPLC gets involved
After the trial got underway this week, a federal judge has postponed opening statements until Monday, March 20.
That new date came after defense attorneys for Mackey learned an expert witness has withdrawn from the case after being contacted by the Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Center.
Luke O'Brien, a supposed investigative journalist at the SPLC, contacted witness George Hawley for a pending story when the trial began and before Hawley was scheduled to testify, according to The Post Millennial.
Hawley, a University of Alabama political science professor, was intimidated by O'Brien's questions, such as asking him if his employer is aware of his plans to testify, Mackey's attorneys told U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis. O'Brien also obtained private emails involving Hawley, the attorneys allege.
'He was calling Hillary voters stupid'
Mackey’s attorney, James Lawrence, told Fox News host Tucker Carlson the criminal case against his client is an attempt by the Biden administration to police “disinformation” by regulating free speech.
“He wasn't subverting democracy,” Carlson agreed. “He was calling Hillary voters stupid.”
“The government has not alleged that a single person didn't vote as a result of the alleged memes,” Lawrence told the Fox News host.
According to the Department of Justice, however, at least 4,900 people texted the phone number that was posted in the meme. So federal prosecutors are suggesting at least some were real voters and for that Mackey faces 10 years in a federal prison.
Back on his program, Carlson said the FBI tracked down several people who texted the phone number in the meme in order to provide evidence of voter suppression.
"None of them remembered even doing it," Carlson said. "That's according to discovery in the case."
Even worse, Carlson continued, a key witness for the prosecution was involved in a group chat involving Mackey. That person has been identified in court documents as an FBI informant but that person's identity remains hidden from Mackey's defense attorneys, the Fox News host said.
"That violates the confrontation clause in the Constitution," Carlson warned, "to confront witnesses against you, especially when they're FBI informants."