ATLANTA (AP) — An Alabama man has been indicted on federal charges that he threatened violence against a Georgia prosecutor and sheriff related to an investigation into former President Donald Trump.
The indictment returned Oct. 25 and unsealed Monday accuses Arthur Ray Hanson II of Huntsville of leaving threatening voicemails for Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis and Fulton County Sheriff Pat Labat on Aug. 6. Reached by phone Monday, Hanson, 59, said he is not guilty of the charges.
Willis on Aug. 14 obtained an indictment against Trump and 18 other people, accusing them of participating in a wide-ranging scheme to try to illegally overturn the results of the 2020 election in Georgia. The indictment — the fourth criminal case filed against Trump in a matter of months — had been widely anticipated.
Shortly before the indictment was returned, Labat was asked during a news conference whether Trump would have a mug shot taken if he was indicted. Labat responded, “Unless someone tells me differently, we are following our normal practices and so it doesn’t matter your status, we’ll have a mug shot ready for you."
Prosecutors allege that Hanson called the Fulton County government customer service line and left voicemails for the prosecutor and the sheriff about a week before the indictment was returned.
In a message for Willis, Hanson is alleged to have warned her to watch out, that she won't always have people around who can protect her, that there would be moments when she would be vulnerable. “When you charge Trump on that fourth indictment, anytime you're alone, be looking over your shoulder,” he said, among other things, according to the indictment.
In the message for Labat, Hanson threatened the sheriff over the idea of taking a mug shot, the indictment says. Among his alleged comments are: “If you take a mug shot of the president and you're the reason it happened, some bad (expletive)'s gonna happen to you,” and “You gonna get (expletive) up you keep (expletive) with my president.”
Hanson said he's “not that person that you think at all” and said he didn't want to explain or talk about a pending case.
“It's all a bunch of (expletive). That's all it is,” he said. “Nobody was ever gonna hurt anybody, ever, to my knowledge.”
Hanson made an initial appearance in federal court in Huntsville and is scheduled to be formally arraigned in Atlanta on Nov. 13, prosecutors said in a news release.
“Sending interstate threats to physically harm prosecutors and law enforcement officers is a vile act intended to interfere with the administration of justice and intimidate individuals who accept a solemn duty to protect and safeguard the rights of citizens,” U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan said in the release. “When someone threatens to harm public servants for doing their jobs to enforce our criminal laws, it potentially weakens the very foundation of our society."
Hanson is not the first person to be charged over alleged threats made in relation to a criminal case against Trump. A Texas woman was arrested in August, charged with threatening to kill a member of Congress and the federal judge overseeing a criminal case against the former president in Washington.