O'Brien had been covering the trial since before it began, going so far as to make a witness for the defense feel intimidated by his questioning when he asked if the witness' employer knew that he was testifying on behalf of Mackey. That witness withdrew from the trial. The defense asked for a two-week delay, but that wasn't granted.
Judge Donnelly dismissed jurors for five minutes, and removed the witness from the box, as well. Donnelly then addressed O'Brien.
"So this is a public courtroom," she said, "and of course people are all welcome to observe the proceedings. What you cannot do, which I've been observing from up here, is to try to either get the witness' attention or whatever is going on. It's got to stop. You have to sit up straight. Don't make faces at the witness. I can see you. If it happens again, you're out."
O'Brien tweeted out that he would no longer be attending the trial. "Wish I could stay to see Doug Mackey aka Ricky Vaughn Testify as the ONLY witness for his defense, especially because I've done so much reporting on him. But I was at the trial on my own dime."
Mackey was a controversial figure on social media in the lead-up to the 2016 election and is on trial for posting a meme encouraging people to vote via text message. His was not the only meme on the subject, and memes of this nature were posted by both supporters of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. But Mackey, likely because so many of his "sh*t posts" were incendiary, is facing trial.
On the first day of testimony, Mackey's attorney cautioned that allegations against Mackey could be based on "inferences of racism and misogyny" because his posts from that time were "so inflammatory."
The attorney argued that what was being inferred should not be considered as part of the allegations against Mackey, which amount to election interference. The charges are election interference, with the DOJ claiming that Mackey's meme made people actually believe that they could vote via text.
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