Alabama man pleads guilty to threatening Georgia prosecutor and sheriff over Trump election case

ATLANTA (AP) — An Alabama man pleaded guilty Tuesday to leaving threatening phone messages for Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis and the county sheriff last summer because he was angry over the election-interference investigation into former President Donald Trump.

Arthur Ray Hanson II made the phone calls just over a week before Trump and 18 others were indicted in Fulton County on Aug. 14.

Hanson of Huntsville, Alabama, told a federal judge at his plea hearing Tuesday that he never meant harm to Willis, whose office is prosecuting Trump and the others, or to Sheriff Patrick Labat, whose staff booked the former president at the Fulton County jail and took his mug shot.

“I made a stupid phone call,” Hanson said in court. “I’m not a violent person.”

He will be sentenced at a later date, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. Assistant U.S. Attorney Bret Hobson told the judge that prosecutors will seek leniency for Hanson because he took responsibility for his actions.

At the plea hearing, Hanson admitted to calling a Fulton County government customer service line on Aug. 6 and leaving voicemails for the prosecutor and the sheriff.

In one message, Hanson warned Willis: “When you charge Trump on that fourth indictment, anytime you’re alone, be looking over your shoulder.”

His message for Labat warned of consequences for taking a jail booking photo of Trump.

“If you take a mug shot of the president and you’re the reason it happened, some bad (expletive)’s gonna happen to you,” the voice message said, according to court records.

The indictment obtained by Willis' office alleged a wide-ranging scheme by Trump and others to overturn the 2020 election results in Georgia. It was the fourth criminal case brought against the former president in a matter of months and had been widely anticipated.

The sheriff commented publicly beforehand that anyone indicted in the case would be booked according to normal procedures, including having a jail mug shot taken.

A federal grand jury indicted Hanson in October on charges of making interstate threats via phone.

Hanson told U.S. Magistrate Regina Cannon on Tuesday that he was angered by the investigation of Trump and made the phone calls hoping authorities would back down.

“I didn’t knowingly know I was threatening anybody,” he told the judge. "To me, it was a warning.”