A pro-Trump Twitter troll who spread disinformation about how to vote in the 2016 election has been found guilty on Friday of Conspiracy Against Rights in federal court, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York. Prominent right-wing media leaders are already condemning the verdict.
Douglass Mackey (33-year-old) went under the pseudonym Ricky Vaughn via Twitter. He shared images through social media during the period leading to 2016’s presidential election. It’s not possible to vote by text in the U.S., but at least 4,900 people tried to do just that.
“Avoid the Line. Vote From Home. Text ‘Hillary’ to 59925,” one of Mackey’s tweets read, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Mackey was part of a group that produced many similar social media posts, some in Spanish, together with others. These tweets frequently included #ImWithHer as a hashtag. This slogan was popular among Hillary Clinton supporters of that time.
Mackey was found guilty of Conspiracy Against Rights a federal offense that makes it a crime to “injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person” attempting to exercise a right found in the U.S. Constitution, including the right to vote.
Many media personalities from the far-right paid attention to the case, including Tucker Carlson, Fox News’s Fox News anchor, who claimed that Mackey made a joke, and his posts were First Amendment protected speech. A federal jury ruled in favor of Mackey after an intense one week trial in Brooklyn.
“Mackey has been found guilty by a jury of his peers of attempting to deprive individuals from exercising their sacred right to vote for the candidate of their choice in the 2016 Presidential Election,” U.S. Attorney Breon Peace said in a statement after the ruling was announced.
“Today’s verdict proves that the defendant’s fraudulent actions crossed a line into criminality and flatly rejects his cynical attempt to use the constitutional right of free speech as a shield for his scheme to subvert the ballot box and suppress the vote,” Peace continued.
Mackey is a West Palm Beach resident who was a popular Twitter figure in 2016’s presidential race between Republican Donald Trump (Democrat Hillary Clinton) and Republican Donald Trump (58,000+ followers).
Mackey can face up to 10 years imprisonment