US authorities investigate threats to grand jury after Trump indictment

Threats reported after personal data of 23 jurors and three alternates, including images and addresses, were posted online.

A sheriff's deputy stands guard near the Fulton County Courthouse, Monday, Aug. 14, 2023, in Atlanta. Authorities in Georgia said Thursday they're investigating threats targeting members of the grand jury that indicted former President Donald Trump and 18 of his allies. (AP Photo/Alex Slitz)
A sheriff's deputy stands guard near the Fulton County Courthouse, on August 14, 2023, in Atlanta., Georgia. Authorities in Georgia say they are investigating threats against members of the grand jury that indicted former President Donald Trump and 18 of his allies [File: Alex Slitz/AP Photo]

Authorities in Georgia said they are investigating threats against members of the grand jury that indicted former United States President Donald Trump and 18 of his allies.

According to reports on Thursday, the personal data of the 23 jurors and three alternates – including images and addresses – was published on various “fringe” websites, some with ties to right-wing conspiracy theories.

Fulton County Sheriff Pat Labat’s office said that investigators are working to trace the origin of the threats after the names of grand jury members and other personal information were posted online. The sheriff’s office said other local, state and federal law enforcement agencies were assisting.

“We take this matter very seriously and are coordinating with our law enforcement partners to respond quickly to any credible threat and to ensure the safety of those individuals who carried out their civic duty,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement.

A Fulton County grand jury returned a 41-count indictment on Monday charging Trump and 18 others with illegally conspiring to overturn his 2020 election loss in Georgia.

Though the grand jury proceedings were secret, the unredacted names of the grand jury members were included in the indictment, which is standard practice in Georgia, in part because it gives criminal defendants a chance to challenge the composition of the grand jury. The indictment itself is a public record.

According to Media Matters, on some of the websites that reported the jurors’ personal details, unnamed users “issued direct threats”, with one calling the information a “hit list”.

The American Bar Association (ABA) issued a statement on Thursday condemning the disclosure of private and personal data of members of the grand jury, saying it was “against the law to harass, stalk and threaten” grand jurors.

“The American jury has played a crucial part in our democracy for more than 200 years and juror participation in the process is essential to the successful functioning of our judicial system,” the bar association said.

“It is unconscionable that their lives should be upended and safety threatened for being good citizens,” the bar said of the disclosure of jurors’ personal data.

“The ABA calls on all political and governmental leaders to denounce this activity and for law enforcement to investigate fully any threats to the innocent people involved.”

On Wednesday, a Texas woman was arrested on charges of making racially charged death threats against the Black judge presiding over the main federal election conspiracy case against Trump.

Abigail Jo Shry told US District Judge Tanya Chutkan, “You are in our sights. We want to kill you,” according to the charges.

Shry’s father told investigators his daughter was a nonviolent alcoholic who sits on her sofa every day, watching television news and “drinking too many beers”, the indictment said.

FBI agents on August 9 killed an armed Utah man facing arrest on charges of making violent threats against US President Joe Biden and law enforcement officials involved in prosecuting Trump.

Trump announced on Thursday that he had called off a news conference next week to unveil what he claimed was new “evidence” of fraud in Georgia’s 2020 presidential election, citing the advice of lawyers as he prepares to face trial in two criminal cases in Washington, DC, and Georgia that stem from his election lies.

“Rather than releasing the Report on the Rigged & Stolen Georgia 2020 Presidential Election on Monday, my lawyers would prefer putting this, I believe, Irrefutable & Overwhelming evidence of Election Fraud & Irregularities in formal Legal Filings as we fight to dismiss this disgraceful Indictment,” Trump wrote on his social media site.

Trump had announced that he would be holding the event hours after the Georgia grand jury voted to charge him and others in a conspiracy to illegally overturn the results of the 2020 election and stop the peaceful transition of power.

Trump had said he would use the “major News Conference” at his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club on Monday morning to release what he claimed was an “almost complete” report that would exonerate him.

Lawyers for Trump also asked a federal judge on Thursday to put off until 2026 his trial in Washington on charges that the former president plotted to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

The suggested April 2026 date is a counterproposal to the justice department’s recommendation last week that the trial should begin in January 2024.

Special counsel Jack Smith’s team is expected to oppose the Trump team’s request, which seeks to put off his trial until nearly a year and a half after the 2024 presidential election, in which Trump is currently the early frontrunner for the Republican nomination.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies