When January 6 rioters were convicted and stood before a judge arguing for a lenient sentence, many showed remorse, condemning their own actions and saying they regret what they did. Some even broke down crying.
But according to the Associated Press, at least some high-profile participants in the Capitol attack who said they were sorry have a very different attitude now that they are no longer in front of a judge.
"Some defendants have drawn ire from judges or the Justice Department for their inconsistent comments," reported Alanna Durkin Richer and Michael Kunzelman. "But there’s not much the legal system can do for an adjudicated defendant. And because some conservatives hold up Jan. 6 defendants as martyrs, there's a political and possibly financial incentive for them to change their tune. It could push judges to impose stronger punishments for rioters who haven’t yet made it to the end of their criminal cases."
Among the rioters highlighted by the article is Derrick Evans, a West Virginia state lawmaker who resigned after being arrested for his participation and called his actions a "crucial mistake" that let his family down. After finishing his 40-day jail sentence, Evans is now running for Congress, claiming he was the victim of a "miscarriage of justice," even calling himself a "J6 Patriot" and the day itself a cause to "celebrate." He even signed a deal for a book bemoaning how he has been treated in the media.
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Another high-profile January 6 defendant was Brandon Straka, the Trump-loving social media star who founded the "Walk Away" movement encouraging LGBTQ and nonwhite voters to join the GOP, and helped organize the "Stop the Steal" rally preceding the Capitol attack.
He avoided jail time after turning in several of his co-organizers to the FBI, and calling January 6 "nothing more than an incredibly shameful day that had absolutely no positive attributes whatsoever." But after his legal battles ended, he put on a pro-J6 performance art display at the Conservative Political Action Conference, sitting in a cage with a MAGA hat and orange jumpsuit to characterize those sitting in jail for attacking police officers as political prisoners.
According to the report, Straka's post-trial behavior could actually open him up to a prosecution for false statements: "A written statement of offense that Straka agreed was correct under his plea deal says that he yelled 'Take it! Take it!' while filming others trying to take a police officer's shield. Straka later told Fox News host Tucker Carlson that he told his lawyer that he never made that comment. He suggested he admitted doing so because he was under pressure to take a deal."
As of this writing, almost a thousand people have been charged in connection with the Capitol insurrection — the largest number of people criminally prosecuted for a single event in U.S. history.