Trump supporter who led 'armed fighters' into the Capitol was just angry about having to wear a mask: lawyers
FBI criminal complaint

According to The Daily Beast, an attorney for Russell Taylor, a California man accused of leading a group of "armed fighters" into the Capitol to stop election certification on January 6, insisted in court that he should be released ahead of trial because he is not really a terrorist or an insurrectionist — he's just an ordinary guy who was driven to do what he did because he was angry about COVID-19 mask mandates.

"'He's kind of boring, this is probably the most exciting thing that'll happen in his life,' Taylor's lawyer, Dyke Huish, said during a Tuesday detention hearing," reported Pilar Melendez. "'Really he's kind of a vanilla kind of guy — though admittedly he was upset about the masks.' Huish describing his client as 'moderately successful,' and a religious man who doesn't drink and went to Brigham Young University. He insisted that Taylor's actions during the insurrection were unique and spurred by his anger over the state-wide lockdown and mask mandate. He denied that Taylor is a militiaman — just that his documented violent actions were misunderstood. 'This was a guy who got mad about the masks and so he got wound up and felt like this was an appropriate thing to do,' Huish said during the hearing."

Prosecutors, however, outlined evidence that Taylor wasn't quite the easygoing family man his lawyer characterized him as.

"In a Tuesday court filing arguing for detention, prosecutors further laid out Taylor's coordinated efforts to plan an attack on the Capitol — including sharing a Jan. 5 photo Taylor took of his tactical vest, hatchets, knife, gloves, and backpack with the caption 'now getting ready for tomorrow,'" said the report. "From at least December, he texted [fellow rioter Alan] Hostetter about travel plans to D.C. and whether they should bring firearms. Prosecutors allege the pair are leaders of the American Phoenix Project, described as a group that 'advocate[s] for violence against individuals and groups who supported the 2020 presidential election results.'"

The FBI originally conducted raids in response to the American Phoenix Project in early February. The wife of Hostetter, a well-known schoolteacher in San Clemente, triggered bitter controversy in her Southern California community with her involvement in the insurrection.