Twitter boss Elon Musk has blasted Democrat President Joe Biden’s Department of Justice (DOJ) after a man was convicted of “election interference” for creating pro-Trump memes.
Musk said Tuesday that the chilling criminal conviction of Douglass Mackey was “over the top.”
Last month, Mackey was found guilty of interfering in the 2016 presidential election over his social media posts that mocked failed Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton.
A Brooklyn jury convicted Mackey on one count of “Conspiracy Against Rights” over memes he shared online.
Mackey, who operated on Twitter under the pseudonym “Ricky Vaughn,” is facing 10 years behind in prison.
“I think ‘criminal’ is over the top, there,” Musk said during a Twitter Spaces conversation.
“I would agree with that. They went too far.”
“If that’s the standard for throwing someone in prison, then there should be a lot more people in prison,” the Twitter CEO said.
Someone else in the Twitter Spaces conversation quipped, “What are you in prison for? ‘Oh, meme crimes,’” to which Musk responded, “Exactly.”
I asked @ElonMusk about Douglass Mackey, who the Biden DOJ wants to send to prison for 10 years for posting a Hillary Clinton Meme in 2016:
“Over the top… they went too far… If that’s the standard for throwing someone in prison, then there should be a lot of people in prison.” pic.twitter.com/X2m8wnj7jl
— ALX 🇺🇸 (@alx) April 12, 2023
The DOJ announced it was charging Mackey with election interference just one week after Biden took office in 2021.
Some legal experts quickly expressed concern that the DOJ could be overstepping for political reasons.
Many have warned that the move seriously infringes on Americans’ free speech rights.
Columnist and former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Andy McCarthy called it a “three-fer” — “the prosecutorial creation of a crime Congress has not prescribed, the trivialization of civil-rights law, and the intrusion of government as a monitor of political speech.”
The case has been raising concerns that other Americans may be targeted for criminal persecution for criticizing Democrats online.
Before the conviction, Musk made clear that he was concerned about the Biden DOJ targeting the 33-year-old over memes.
Responding to a tweet that called the case “concerning,” Musk responded, “Yeah.”
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 13, 2023
The New York jury in the Mackey trial deliberated for about 35 hours over the course of five days before rendering a guilty verdict.
Notably, the jury sent notes back to Judge Ann Donnelly on two of those days.
Jurors said that they were split and could not come to a decision.
However, Judge Donnelly responded by ordering the jury to reconvene and continue deliberations through what’s called an Allen charge.
The charge is controversial, with some arguing that it puts pressure on jurors in the minority opinion to change their tune.
Mackey himself reportedly gave no reaction when the guilty verdict was read in court.
His father, who was also in the courtroom, let out a heavy sigh.
Andrew J. Frisch, an attorney representing Mackey, has promised to appeal the guilty verdict.
“This case presents an unusual array of appellate issues that are exceptionally strong,” Frisch told reporters following the verdict.
“This was the first chapter of the litigation of this case.
“We would have preferred to win, but I am confident about the way forward.”
“The appellate court will have its choice of which issue on which to vacate the conviction,” the attorney added, according to a Twitter account linked to Mackey.
“It may choose to do so on first amendment grounds, or on the government’s suppression of exculpatory information, or on the insufficiency of evidence of venue among other issues.
“We are optimistic about our chances on appeal.”
“It may choose to do so on first amendment grounds, or on the government's suppression of exculpatory information, or on the insufficiency of evidence of venue among other issues. We are optimistic about our chances on appeal.” 2/2
— Douglass Mackey (@DougMackeyCase) March 31, 2023
READ MORE: Elon Musk Humiliates ‘Lying’ BBC Reporter for Pushing False ‘Hate Speech’ Claims