Anonymous government witness could take center stage in New York trial of pro-Trump Twitter troll who urged Hillary supporters in 2016 to vote by ‘text’

A Brooklyn judge will allow a prominent alt-right internet figure to keep his identity private when he testifies against a pro-Trump Twitter troll accused of trying to trick Hillary Clinton voters in 2016 into not voting.

Judge Nicholas Garaufis has ruled that the witness, who prosecutors say “had a prominent position in the alt-right internet community,” will be identified only by a pseudonym at Douglas McKee’s trial this month.

According to the feds, during the 2016 presidential campaign, Douglas McKee posted fake Hillary Clinton campaign ads on Twitter that appeared to be official, urging people to vote via text messages rather than in person.

According to the feds, during the 2016 presidential campaign, McKee posted what appeared to be an officially fake Hillary Clinton campaign ad on Twitter, urging people to vote via text messages rather than in person. Jury selection in McKee’s trial began this week, with opening arguments scheduled for Monday.

The lawsuit was transferred Sunday from Garaufis to Judge Anne Donnelly, who presided over the 2021 sex trafficking trial of disgraced music mogul R. Kelly.

McKee’s trial became a celebrity to some conservative figures, including far-right Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green and Fox News pundit Tucker Carlson, who made allegations politically motivated attack on freedom of speech.

McKee’s lawyer tried to get the case dismissed on First Amendment and other grounds in October, but Garaufis ruled that the trial would continue.

Douglas McKee, who the feds said went by the name Ricky Vaughan on Twitter, was allegedly a well-known anonymous anti-Semite, racist and Trump supporter online before the 2016 election.

According to court documents, a cooperating witness plans to testify that he is part of Twitter direct messaging groups, coordinating with McKee to trick Clinton voters into voting.

The turncoat troll has pleaded guilty to conspiracy against human rights — the same charge is being filed against McKee — and is helping the FBI in several other cases, prosecutors said in recent court documents.

“The fact that (the witness) cooperated would certainly be seen by many in this community as a major betrayal, with the result that, at the very least, online harassment would necessarily follow (the witness) if his or her identity became public,” prosecutors wrote last week. .

“This persecution can have negative consequences in itself. In addition, to claim that intense online attacks do not threaten the physical safety of a person is to ignore the realities of our current world, as evidenced by the mainstream newspaper headlines.

According to the feds, during the 2016 presidential campaign, Douglas McKee posted fake Hillary Clinton campaign ads on Twitter that appeared to be official, urging people to vote via text messages rather than in person.

Prosecutors said it was ironic that their witness had engaged in the same type of prosecution in the past that they hope anonymity will protect against.

McKee’s lawyer will know the identity of the witness and be able to conduct a background check, but he can’t reveal his client’s name, and the jury and the public will only hear a pseudonym, the judge ruled.

McKee used the pseudonym “Ricky Vaughn” — a reference to the character Charlie Sheen in the movie Major League — and posted memes in an attempt to stifle the Clinton vote and get Trump elected, the feds say.

According to the feds, during the 2016 presidential campaign, Douglas McKee posted fake Hillary Clinton campaign ads on Twitter that appeared to be official, urging people to vote via text messages rather than in person.

“Avoid the queue. Vote from home,” McKee tweeted Nov. 1, along with a photo of a black woman standing in front of a “African Americans for Hillary” sign. It was written in small print: “You must be over 18 to vote. One vote per person. Must be a legal US citizen. Text voting is not available in Guam, Puerto Rico, Alaska, and Hawaii. Paid for Hillary for President in 2016.”

He and several other trolls took to group chats to discuss how best to develop a meme to convince people it’s real, the feds say. Some 4,900 people have posted the number in memes, according to the feds, though it’s not clear if anyone was tricked into staying home on Election Day.

McKee’s attorney, Andrew Frisch, insisted on naming the witness who collaborated with him, arguing that his safety was not at risk and that witnesses against drug cartels and gangs such as MS-13 had not been granted anonymity in the past.

“While safety and efficiency are legitimate interests, they are not in this case,” Frisch wrote. “The concern of the government to protect the defendant from online harassment is really to protect him from negative attention, which is not a legitimate interest.

According to the feds, during the 2016 presidential campaign, Douglas McKee posted fake Hillary Clinton campaign ads on Twitter that appeared to be official, urging people to vote via text messages rather than in person.

The prosecution has never claimed that the defendant has a reputation for being violent, has ever resorted to violence, or even threatened anyone’s safety.

However, Garaufis disagreed, holding: “The court is not persuaded by the defendant’s assertion that violence is necessarily far from online harassment … revealing (the witness’s) identity could lead to online or physical harassment or danger.”

Garaufis also forbade cross-examination about the witness’s employment with the FBI in other cases, over Frisch’s objections.

Opening arguments were briefly put on hold when an expert witness dropped the defense after Frisch said a researcher at the Southern Poverty Law Center had contacted him asking questions “based on personal emails” for an upcoming investigation into McKee’s trial. .

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