Representative Alexandria Ocasio Cortez of New York stood in federal court in Brooklyn on Monday to testify to their office’s response to threats from Brendan Hunt. Hunt has been tried after being accused of making violent statements targeting several lawmakers. CBS News reporter Cassidy McDonald joins CBSN’s “Red & Blue” anchor Elaine Quijano to detail the latest information and trials in the federal investigation into the Capitol riots.
Elaine Kihano: Prosecutors have charged more than 400 people in connection with the January 6 riots in the Houses of Parliament. Now we are learning that the number is expected to increase. But first, as federal investigations expand, some Republicans defend the response of former President Trump on the day of the attack. In a weekend interview, house minority leader Kevin McCarthy claimed that Mr. Trump was unaware of the riot until McCarthy called him that afternoon.
Kevin McCarthy: I spoke to President Trump the first person to contact him during a riot. He didn’t see it. He hung up and said he would give something to make sure it stopped. And that’s what he did. He later put out a video.
— Quite later. And it was a pretty weak video. But I’m specifically asking you, he told you, do I think some people are more worried about elections than you are?
Kevin McCarthy: No, please listen. A conversation with the president is a conversation with the president. I worked on the idea of ensuring that what was happening inside the Capitol at that time could be stopped. The president said he would help.
Elaine Kihano: Well, that’s in stark contrast to McCarthy’s previous tone, including when discussing Mr. Trump’s second impeachment resolution. This is the minority leader on January 13th.
Kevin McCarthy: The president will be responsible for the mob riots attacking Congress on Wednesday. He should have immediately blamed the mob when he saw what was happening. These facts require immediate action by President Trump. Accepting his division of responsibilities, calming brewing anxiety and allowing President Biden to successfully start his term.
And I think the fact-finding committee and the resolution of condemnation are wise, as the president’s immediate action deserves the action of Congress. Unfortunately, that’s not where we are today.
Elaine Kihano: Take CBS News reporter Cassidy McDonald for more information on the ongoing federal investigation. Hello, Cassidy. Welcome. So, a parliamentary police officer testified last week in a man’s trial accused of threatening US lawmakers. And it is believed that this is the first time police members of the Houses of Parliament have testified in a criminal trial related to the January riots. what happened?
CASSIDY MCDONALD: exactly. A man named Brendan Hunt, who was charged with intimidating US lawmakers, is in the process of trial. Therefore, Brendan Hunt wasn’t really in Washington, DC. He did not participate in the siege of the Capitol that day. However, he has been charged with a statement stated by the prosecutor before and after the online attack. In one of the videos posted by the prosecutor allegedly killing the senator, the prosecutor spoke to the camera in the video, returned to the Capitol with a gun to the viewer, and said, “The House of Representatives He said he urged him to quote “to slaughter.”
His name is Christopher Deslogers because he is a police officer in the Capitol who testified on Friday. He is a Special Agent in the Threat Assessment section of the Capitol Police. And, as you said, he is rather believed to be the first agent from that army to testify in a jury trial in connection with the Capitol attack. He was then asked to explain his tone at the Capitol that day. He said it was very disturbing. It also provided insight into how intelligence gathering worked after the attack.
He said police resources in the Houses of Parliament had “reached limits” in preparation for President Joe Biden’s inauguration, which was scheduled just two weeks after January 6. And he said he therefore relies on the FBI to monitor online statements such as those attributed to Mr. Hunt. And they said a parliamentary police officer who had been incorporated into the FBI notified the parliamentary police of Mr. Hunt’s investigation on January 8.
The trial is currently underway. It is also expected that the jury will focus on issues related to freedom of speech in order to determine whether Mr. Hunt’s alleged online comments correspond to an illegal threat to the House of Representatives.
Elaine Kihano: Brendan Hunt has also been accused of defending violence against Democrats Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, and Alexandria Ocasio Cortez. Have they been involved in the investigation?
CASSIDY MCDONALD: exactly. And just this afternoon we learned that the staff of her office representative Alexandria Ocasio Cortez was called to take a position in this case. Therefore, Hunt’s online post reflected an ideology shared by some people arrested in a parliamentary riot investigation. And in a Facebook post on December 6, he said he wouldn’t quote “voting for another fraudulent election.” And he demanded the killing of those three lawmakers you mentioned.
The prosecutor said he called the employee to testify and explain how he took the defendant’s intimidation seriously. He said Hunt’s threat was a concern, even though he knew them for the first time after Mr. Hunt was arrested. He said Hunt’s words were of particular concern, targeting representative Alexandria Ocasio Cortez specifically and targeting her as a valuable target in a statement mentioning firing squad and public executions. He said it was because he explained it.
Elaine Kihano: Wow. A high-value target. This is a term commonly used to describe what you have heard from terrorists, law enforcement and intelligence agencies. It’s really amazing to hear that the language is used to describe elected US officials. In a recently filed court document, prosecutors revealed that Parliamentary police had offered a tour to a lawyer representing the far-right radical group Aus Keepers, who was charged in a conspiracy case. .. What does that mean?
CASSIDY MCDONALD: correct. On Friday, we saw a prosecutor informed by a document submitted by the Department of Justice to twelve Orskipers lawyers who were also charged in a conspiracy case. Therefore, the lawyer in this case is currently engaged in a process called discovery. In other words, the prosecutor is reviewing the evidence. And because they share it with the defense lawyer, both sides have the information they need to prepare for the trial.
Therefore, in a document discussing this discovery process, the prosecutor told the defendant’s lawyer about the evidence they would share. So think about surveillance footage and interviews. And in this document, they also said they had informed the dates of the tour that police in the Capitol provided to the defendant’s lawyer.
Therefore, this is actually part of the evidence gathering and evidence sharing process. You can also get a glimpse of the ongoing discussion about the conditions that accompany the tour. Therefore, the prosecutor notes that lawyers have expressed concern about the Capitol police banning photography during these tours. So they keep solving it.
However, this is similar to the problem encountered by other cases in this capital investigation, as some of the evidence in these cases has been identified as sensitive information. Therefore, in some cases, the parties have agreed to keep some of this evidence sealed or not to disclose it, and to put restrictions on some of the distribution of this information. So this is all behind the scenes and what happens when a lawyer prepares for such a case with 12 co-defendants facing some of the more serious accusations in this investigation. Peep behind the curtain.
They have been accused of colluding together and planning to come to the capital. Some of these Oath Keepers, sometimes referred to as Oath Keepers, have been accused of using sophisticated military-style techniques to travel through the crowd and enter the capital. And they are all charged with collusion to thwart official proceedings, in this case the proof of voting by the Electoral College.
Elaine Kihano: Well, earlier this month, the first members of the Aus Keepers pleaded guilty to the riots. How does it affect the case?
CASSIDY MCCDONALD: correct. And that was another thing we saw in a court submission this Friday. The prosecutor said he had informed the Aus Keepers lawyer accused of the case of John Schaefer. So he is the keeper of another vow that was charged in connection with the riots. And he pleaded guilty earlier this month. He was the first defendant to be found guilty in a riot investigation into the Capitol. And he happens to be a guitarist and a member of a heavy metal band known as Iced Earth. If you’re a heavy metal fan, you may be aware of him.
He was then arrested and initially charged with six crimes. And one of them, including them, was attacking police officers with a bear spray. As a result, he initially faced up to 30 years in prison when convicted. However, he eventually pleaded guilty to two felony charges of interfering with official proceedings and being in a restricted area with a weapon. And instead, he agreed to work with the prosecutor. And it may involve taking the position of a witness and providing an interview.
And in return, he was offered a lower recommended range of judgment, and the judge said it could be about three to four years. Therefore, on Friday, the prosecutor notified the other defendants. They said they had informed whether they had contacted Mr. Schaffer because Mr. Schaffer’s testimony could provide evidence related to the trial. Therefore, the defense lawyer needs to be aware of the evidence that may arise from his cooperation.
Elaine Kihano: All right. Well, Cassidy McDonald for us. Thank you very much, Cassidy.
CASSIDY MCDONALD: Thank you very much.