A second person has pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the January 6th insurrection.
A man who wore goggles and carried a Trump flag into the Senate chamber on January 6 as the US Capitol was overrun with rioters became the second riot defendant to plead guilty on Wednesday, setting the tone for what may come as more of the hundreds of cases head toward being resolved in court.
The obstruction charge he has pleaded guilty to carries a maximum 20 years in prison, though judges almost never sentence defendants to the maximum amount.
Still, the resolution of Hodgkins’ case sends a signal for other riot defendants that prosecutors may not be willing to significantly reduce charges for those who entered the Capitol building.
Many of the Capitol riot defendants are already engaged in plea talks, and, as is typical in the criminal justice system, a large proportion are expected to plead guilty.
Previously, the Justice Department cut a deal for an Oath Keeper founder to cooperate, the first plea deal in the insurrection investigation.
As the possibility of prison time looms closer for many of those who seemed to think that they could invade the Capitol and face no repercussions, their attempts to find reasons why they should not be held accountable have varied. We had the excuse of “Trump asked me do it” and “the mob made me do” being put forward. Now we have “the media lies about the election made me do it”.
Falsehoods about the election helped bring insurrectionists to the Capitol on Jan. 6, and now some who are facing criminal charges for their actions during the riot hope their gullibility might save them or at least engender some sympathy.
Lawyers for at least three defendants charged in connection with the violent siege tell The Associated Press that they will blame election misinformation and conspiracy theories, much of it pushed by then-President Donald Trump, for misleading their clients. The attorneys say those who spread that misinformation bear as much responsibility for the violence as do those who participated in the actual breach of the Capitol.
“I kind of sound like an idiot now saying it, but my faith was in him,” defendant Anthony Antonio said, speaking of Trump. Antonio said he wasn’t interested in politics before pandemic boredom led him to conservative cable news and right-wing social media. “I think they did a great job of convincing people.”
Good luck with the “I am really stupid” defense.
Meanwhile ProPublica has obtained a boastful and delusional letter from jailed capitol rioter Guy Reffitt, a member of the Three Percenter right-wing militant group, who explains his motives.
In a letter sent from behind bars, a key defendant in the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol said he and fellow inmates have bonded in jail, and boasted that those attacking the building could have overthrown the government if they had wanted.
“January 6th was nothing short of a satirical way to overthrow a government,” said the letter, written by hand on yellow lined paper. “If overthrow was the quest, it would have no doubt been overthrown.”
Reffitt saw his actions on Jan. 6 as a critical step in protecting his wife and kids from what he viewed as a decades-long American slide toward “tyranny,” according to his text messages.
According to the report, over the past year, his family watched with dismay as Reffitt spent hours watching Fox News and getting angry over Black Lives Matter protests and then in June 2020 joining the Three Percenters. It got worse when Trump lost the election and he switched to watching just Newsmax, an even more extreme outlet than Fox. He really got excited when Trump called on people to come to Washington on January 6th and promised that it was going to be ‘wild’. It was Reffitt’s son who sent a tip to the authorities that resulted in Reffitt being identified and arrested.