02-19-2017  8:05 pm      •     

CHICAGO (AP) -- A judge has ordered a White supremacist charged with threatening a Chicago juror to remain jailed after hearing how he used his computer to discuss killing Blacks and even aimed a veiled threat at President-elect Barack Obama.
William White, 31, of Roanoke, Va. stood impassively Friday as U.S. District Judge William Hibbler said he was upholding a previous decision by a Virginia judge to jail him without bond to "ensure the safety of the community."
The charges against White stemmed from his alleged posting of the name, photograph, address and phone numbers of the foreman of a jury that in 2004 found white supremacist Matt Hale guilty of soliciting the murder of the federal judge who presided over the trial.
But much of the hearing centered on other online postings of the self-proclaimed commander of the American National Socialist Workers' Party. Those postings included phrases like "kill, kill, kill," and the possibility that he might go on a "murderous rampage."
Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Ferrara also told Hibbler of an article that was posted on White's blog that included a photograph of Obama, a swastika, and concluded with the words, "He should not be allowed to take office by any means necessary."
"He's asking others and encouraging others to act in a violent manner," Ferrara told the judge, adding that in another posting, White asked people to go to Canada to kill an attorney in which he'd been having an online feud.
But White's attorney, Nishay Sanan, dismissed White's online postings as nothing more than "a means of venting political frustrations" and that he was never threatening anyone or asking anyone to do others harm. The one witness during the hearing was a forensic psychiatrist, who testified that he did not believe White posed a danger to himself, his family or the community.
Of the charges against White, Sanan said that White did not make any threat, veiled or explicit on his posting under the heading, "The Juror Who Convicted Matt Hale." Instead, he just posted the foreman's personal information.
"There's no information of intent to hurt Juror A and persuade others to harm Juror A," he said.
Not only that, he said, but it is significant that none of those who read White's blog ever planned to or tried to hurt the juror.
"They knew it was just posting and venting," he said.
In fact, he said, the charges had nothing to do with any perceived threats against the juror or anyone else, but were motivated solely to put White behind bars at the time of the presidential election.
In the same article, said Sanan, White wrote: "Nobody wants to kill him."
Sanan said he was not defending what White had written, but that he had a Constitutional right to express his views.
"It's pathetic the U.S. Attorney's office gets to decide what's protected free speech and what's not," he said after the hearing. "Nowhere in the Constitution does it say they have that right."
Sanan promised to appeal the judge's decision.
Ferrara declined to comment after the hearing.
A trial date was set for March 3.


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All of this has played out amid a steady drip of revelations about an FBI investigation into his campaign's contacts with Russian intelligence officials. Trump says his administration is running like a "fine-tuned machine." He points to the rising stock market and the devotion of his still-loyal supporters as evidence that all is well, although his job approval rating is much lower than that for prior presidents in their first weeks in office. Stung by the unrelenting criticism coming his way, Trump dismisses much of it as "fake news" delivered by "the enemy of the people" — aka the press. Daily denunciations of the media are just one of the new White House fixtures Americans are adjusting to. Most days start (and end) with presidential tweets riffing off of whatever's on TV talk shows or teasing coming events or hurling insults at the media. At some point in the day, count on Trump to cast back to the marvels of his upset of Democrat Hillary Clinton in the November election and quite possibly overstate his margins of support. Expect more denunciations of the "dishonest" press and its "fake news." From there, things can veer in unexpected directions as Trump offers up policy pronouncements or offhand remarks that leave even White House aides struggling to interpret them. The long-standing U.S. policy of seeking a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Trump this past week offered this cryptic pronouncement: "I'm looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like. I can live with either one." His U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, the next day insisted, "We absolutely support a two-state solution." Trump's days are busy. Outside groups troop in for "listening sessions." Foreign leaders call or come to visit. 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Trump shouldn't mistake the fact that some of his supporters like his style with the fact that a lot of Republicans just want the policies he promised them. He has to deliver that." Put Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in the camp of those more interested in substance than style. "I'm not a great fan of daily tweets," McConnell said Friday, referring to the "extra discussion" that Trump likes to engage in. But McConnell was quick to add: "What I am a fan of is what he's been actually doing." He credits Trump with assembling a conservative Cabinet and taking steps to reduce government regulation, and promised: "We like his positions and we're going to pursue them as vigorously as we can." The challenge may be to tease out exactly what Trump wants in the way of a health care plan, tax changes and trade policy. 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