A Texas woman is facing federal charges after allegedly threatening to kill the judge overseeing Donald Trump’s criminal case in Washington, D.C., in which he’s accused of conspiring to reverse his defeat in the 2020 presidential election.
A criminal complaint filed Friday outlines how Abigail Jo Shry, 48, called U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan’s chambers on Aug. 5, leaving “a threatening voicemail message.”
The caller began: “Hey, you stupid slave n-----,” according to the complaint. They then went on to threaten the lives of “anyone who went after former President Trump,” name-dropping ” Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), “all Democrats in Washington, D.C.,” and “all people” in the LGBTQ+ community.
To Chutkan, the caller continued, “You are in our sights, we want to kill you,” and “If Trump doesn’t get elected in 2024, we are coming to kill you, so tread lightly, bitch,” the complaint alleges. They threatened to target her “personally, publicly, your family, all of it.”
Investigators quickly traced the cell phone used to Shry. When Department of Homeland Security agents knocked on her door in Alvin, Texas, three days later, Shry admitted that she’d made the call to Chutkan. She told the agents that she had no plans to go to D.C. or carry out any of her threats, but added ominously that “if Sheila Jackson Lee comes to Alvin, then we need to worry,” the complaint states.
Shry is charged with transmitting a communication containing a threat to injure the person of another–a felony with a maximum prison term of up to five years.
Trump was indicted earlier this month in the case that Chutkan was subsequently assigned to oversee. He is accused of taking part in three conspiracies in an attempt to hold onto power; he faces charges of conspiracy to violate civil rights, conspiracy to defraud the government, the corrupt obstruction of an official proceeding and conspiracy to carry out such obstruction.
The indictment, filed by special counsel Jack Smith, alleges that the efforts of Trump and six co-conspirators culminated in the Capitol riots. Chutkan has a history as a tough jurist in cases involving Jan. 6 defendants, sentencing all 31 who have come before her to prison terms. In Nov. 2021, she also ruled against Trump in his bid to block congressional investigators from accessing records related to the attacks.
Three days after the indictment was handed down, Trump posted a threat of his own to Truth Social, blaring in all caps: “If you go after me, I’m coming after you!”
Prosecutors alerted Chutkan to the post, asking her to issue a protective order. Chutkan agreed to impose the order, but curtailed it to a request by Trump’s team that it apply only to his ability to share “sensitive” evidence in the case. She also issued a direct warning to the former president.
“I caution you and your client to take special care in your public statements in this case,” she told Trump’s attorneys. “I will take whatever measures are necessary to protect the integrity of these proceedings.”
In another post days later, Trump criticized Chutkan as “highly partisan” and “very biased and unfair.” He thundered, “There is no way I can get a fair trial with the judge ‘assigned’ to the ridiculous freedom of speech/fair elections case. Everybody knows this, and so does she! We will be immediately asking for a recusal of this judge on very powerful grounds, and likewise for venue change, out if [sic] D.C.”
“He is just daring the judge now,” attorney Bradley Moss observed on Twitter.