Tennessee House Speaker Glen Casada says the NewsChannel 5 report by Phil Williams claiming that the email from Justin Jones was altered is simply untrue and the implication that anybody in his office tried to frame Justin Jones is completely false.
“On March 1 the email from Jones dated February 25 was received by my office and it was immediately forwarded, along with a photo of the email that showed the March 1 date that it was received, to the Nashville District Attorney because it appeared that Mr. Jones had violated the terms of the Court’s Order to refrain from contacting me. After it was realized that the date the email was received was a few days after it had been sent, my office notified the District Attorney about the apparent disparity in dates,” Casada said.
“The email was not altered or manipulated to falsely accuse Jones of violating the Court’s order,” he added.
Casada also explained that he had Legislative Information Services (LIS) investigate and they determined that the email had somehow lagged in delivery for several days within the system.
The Tennessee House Republican Caucus released this statement from Speaker Casada late Thursday afternoon:
“The allegations made today by NewsChannel 5 are blatantly false. The email that is referenced and is the central focus of this investigation was not edited in any way, shape or form. On Friday, March 1, Mr. Cothren received an email from the account belonging to Justin Jones. This email was also sent to at least 12 members of the media, as well my own state address and my executive assistant’s address.
When Cothren received this email, he immediately forwarded it to District Attorney Funk because of the recently issued conditions of Mr. Jones’s bond. It was later determined that the email from Mr. Jones was sent on February 25th, but was not delivered to any of the state email accounts until March 1st, due to a security issue.
Once the Assistant District Attorney contacted Cothren with additional questions about the date of the email, Cothren was made aware that Mr. Jones’s email was not sent on March 1st. At this point, Cothren immediately told the ADA that he wanted to reach out to our Legislative Information Systems department to investigate why it looked as if he had received the email on March 1st. The ADA responded to Cothren, making him aware that DA Funk had already requested to file a motion, but offered to strike it, at which point, Cothren requested he do so until LIS could provide clarity on the date discrepancy.
The idea that my Chief of Staff would alter an email that was also received by nearly a dozen members of the media is absurd. It is disappointing that a reputable television station would be so irresponsible to produce a story in such an unprofessional and malicious manner. This calls to question the veracity of their entire story.
I’ve known Cade Cothren for nearly a decade, and I’ve never known him to act in a manner in which these emails and texts falsely portray him.”
On Wednesday, Phil Williams of the Nashville-based NewsChannel 5 broadcast a story that accused the chief of staff for Tennessee Speaker of the House Glen Casada of doctoring an email so he could frame left-wing activist Justin Jones and send him to jail.
Cade Cothren is Casada’s chief-of-staff.
Jones is the Vanderbilt Divinity School student who has allegedly disrupted various Republican events the past several months and allegedly threw coffee at Casada and another legislator on Feb. 28. Members of Nashville District Attorney Glenn Funk’s Office ordered Jones to have no contact with Casada.
According to emails The Tennessee Star obtained from Funk’s office Thursday, Cothren forwarded an email to members of Funk’s office showing Jones disregarded that order and emailed Casada’s office yet again, on March 1.
You can see those emails here:jones emails
The Tennessee House Republican Caucus on Thursday also released this document of additional emails between Cothren and the DA’s office:ADADocumentation
But News Channel 5 tried to make the case that Cothren may have forged the time stamp of that email. Jones said he sent the email on Feb. 25, about four days before he was ordered to have no contact with Casada.
As part of the email chain members of the DA’s office provided, it appears Jones sent the email on Feb. 25.
Jones CC’d various members of the media and Casada’s office in the email. Notably, WKRN News 2 report Chris Bundgaard’s was listed as recipient of the Jones email, but his name was misspelled in the email address. Also, Tennessean reporter Joel Ebert’s email address includes a space between the dot “.” and the “com” that would likely cause either a delay in the delivery or the email to bounce back.
Funk spokesman Stephen Hayslip told The Star in an emailed statement Thursday that members of his office have requested that a district attorney from another jurisdiction oversee the Jones’ case.
According to published reports in both The Tennessean and The Tennessee Tribune, Nick Leonardo, a Democrat who once served on the Metro Council and as a General Sessions Court judge, represents Jones.
Leonardo is also a legal analyst for News Channel 5, suggesting he was the person who tipped Williams off to the story.
As of Thursday afternoon, Leonardo had not returned The Star’s repeated requests for comment on this matter or whether Jones is paying him out of his own pocket for his legal services.
TIMELINE OF EVENTS INVOLVING JUSTIN JONES SINCE OCTOBER 2018:
• October 28, 2018: Jones shows up at a private political rally for now U.S. Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn. U.S. Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham is the keynote speaker. Security officers at the event recognize Jones as a troublemaker at the state capitol and ask him to leave. Jones refused. Law enforcement later had to escort Jones out by force. Jones appeared to resist law officers, who removed him by force. Nashville Night Court Commissioner Carolyn Piphus refused to issue an arrest warrant for Jones. Later in the week, however, members of the office of Nashville District Attorney General Glenn Funk reviewed available evidence, including videos of Jones’ behavior. They agreed with law enforcement that arrest warrants were appropriate. Authorities charged Jones with criminal trespassing and resisting arrest.
• February 3, 2019: Jones resurfaces in the news, this time for protesting a bust of Confederate Army General Nathan Bedford Forrest at the state capitol.
• February 21, 2019: Jones comes to the state capitol again to demand a meeting with Casada. Jones sees Casada in the distance, runs over to confront him. Jones later claimed Casada pushed him. Jones and his allies tried to followed Casada into a private gathering where state troopers would not admit him. Troopers had to grab Jones and pull him away from the front doors. Members of Nashville District Attorney’s Office Glenn Funk view video of the incident, but they still say no bond revocation from the alleged October incident is necessary.
• February 28, 2019: According to members of the Tennessee Highway Patrol, Jones unsuccessfully tried to force his way into an elevator with Casada and several state legislators. Jones then allegedly threw a Frothy Monkey cup at Casada and State Rep. Debra Moody, R-Covington. Moody said liquid that came out of the cup that hit her was hot and left her jacket “soaking wet.” State troopers said in a press release that they believe Jones threw coffee at the two representatives.
• March 2, 2019: Authorities ban Jones from entering the state capitol. Members of Funk’s office said they will review whether to revoke or increase Justin Jones’ bond from his arrest the previous October. The Star later learned court officials ordered Jones to have no contact with Casada or Moody.
• March 5, 2019: Members of Funk’s office file a motion to revoke Jones’ bond.
• March 7, 2019: Jones denies sending an email to Casada on March 1, immediately after he allegedly threw coffee at him.
• March 19, 2019: Judge Dianne Turner, a Democrat, dismisses Jones case from the alleged incident at the Blackburn rally because of a discrepancy in the documents between the date of his arrest and the date of his subsequent warrant.
• March 27, 2019: The Star reports Jones’ court date for allegedly throwing coffee at Casada and Moody is scheduled for June 11.
• May 1, 2019: The Star reports Jones’ verbally harassed two legislators as they tried to eat at a Nashville restaurant.
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