US Capitol attack: militia member gets longest prison sentence yet | US Capitol attack

An associate of the far-right Three Percenters militia has been sentenced to more than seven years in prison for his role in the storming of the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.

It is the longest sentence to date in hundreds of cases related to the insurgency of extremist supporters of Donald Trump who sought to prevent Congress from officially certifying Joe Biden’s election victory on his Republican rival.

Prosecutors say Guy Reffitt told other members of the Texas Three Percenters militia group that he planned to drag House Speaker Nancy Pelosi out of the Capitol building by her ankles “with her head hitting every step. going down,” according to a court filing.

Reffitt was sentenced in Washington DC on Monday after being found guilty by a jury in March of obstructing the joint session of Congress, interfering with police officers outside the Capitol and threatening his two teenage sons. they reported him to the police.

Justice Department prosecutors have recommended a 15-year prison sentence for Reffitt, with the length warranted “on terrorism charges.”

The longest sentence before Reffitt’s 7.25-year sentence was handed down was five years and three months, for two men who admitted to assaulting police officers on Capitol Hill.

Reffitt’s defense had asked for no more than two years in prison.

Videos captured the confrontation between outnumbered United States Capitol police officers and a crowd of people, including Reffitt, who approached them from the west side of the building that afternoon, shortly after Trump had staged a rally calling on the crowd to come to the Capitol and urging supporters to “fight like hell” to keep him in power.

Reffitt was armed with a Smith & Wesson pistol in a waist holster, wore zippered handcuffs, and wore a bulletproof vest and helmet fitted with a video camera when he advanced on officers, according to prosecutors.

He retreated after an officer sprayed him with pepper spray in the face, but he waved at other rioters who eventually entered the building, prosecutors said.

Reffitt’s 19-year-old son Jackson testified that his father told him and his sister, then 16, that they would be traitors if they reported him to authorities and warned them that “the traitors were being shot at”.

The Three Percenters movement refers to the myth that only 3% of Americans fought in the Revolutionary War against the British.

Reffitt lived with his wife and children in Wylie, Texas, a suburb of Dallas. He traveled to Washington with Rocky Hardie, another member of the militia.

Hardie said they both attended Trump’s rally.

More than 840 people have been charged with federal crimes related to the riot. More than 340 of them pleaded guilty and more than 220 were sentenced, nearly half of them to prison terms. About 150 others have trial dates extending into 2023.

Reffitt is one of seven Capitol riot defendants to have won a jury trial so far. Jurors convicted the seven on all counts.

The Justice Department has not excluded Trump and members of his cohort from its expanded criminal investigation into the events surrounding Jan. 6 as well as the insurgency itself.

Attorney General Merrick Garland pledged last week “to bring to justice all those who are criminally responsible for obstructing the peaceful transfer of power” and to prosecute wrongdoing “without fear or favour”.

Separately, a bipartisan House select committee is investigating the events leading up to, on, and immediately after Jan. 6 and held a series of public hearings expected to resume in the fall that also examine Trump’s role.

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