Convicted ex-pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli said today his appeal to his social media followers to “grab” Hillary Clinton’s hair was an “awkward attempt at humor or satire” and was not the threat federal prosecutors allege.
Shkreli conceded he used “poor judgment” when he offered $5,000 to anyone who could “grab a hair from her” during Clinton’s tour to promote her new book. Prosecutors said it was part of Shkreli’s “escalating pattern of threats and harassment” against Clinton and they asked that his bail be revoked.
Shkreli said threatening Clinton was never his intention.
“I used poor judgment,” Shkreli wrote in a letter to the court, “but never contended to cause alarm or promote any act of violence whatsoever.”
Shkreli, infamous for hiking the price of a life-saving drug, was convicted this summer in a fraud related to two hedge funds he controlled. He has been free on $5 million bail and his letter asked the judge “not to change my bail status so that I may continue to assist my attorneys in preparing for my sentencing.”
There is a hearing scheduled for today.
Federal prosecutors in the Eastern District of New York called Shkreli a “danger to the community” because of his posts.
“Shkreli’s latest threat is concerning not only because it has required a significant expenditure of resources by the United States Secret Service, which is charged with protecting Secretary Clinton, but also because there is a significant risk that one of his many social media followers or others who learn of his offers through the media will take his statements seriously—as has happened previously—and act on them,” they wrote in their motion to revoke bail.
Government officials did not say if any of Shkreli’s followers followed through on the threat.
Shkreli’s defense stressed the “satirical nature” of his post.
“While we do not condone Mr. Shkreli’s comments,” his defense attorney Benjamin Brafman wrote, “his constitutionally-protected political hyperbole does not rise to the level of making him a ‘danger to the community.’”