No bail and Mexican getaways: How the Feds are going lenient on the insurrectionists as Trump's second impeachment trial begins
Former President Donald Trump's historic second impeachment trial is set to begin this week for inciting the January 6 Capitol Hill insurrection. Since then federal authorities have arrested about 200 individuals for their role in the putsch that claimed five lives. The Department of Justice labeled the event "an intolerable attack on a fundamental institution of our democracy" and vowed it will "spare no resources in investigating and holding those accountable those responsible."
But the government appears to be treating many arrestees with kid gloves. Some have been spared pretrial detention despite being charged with assaulting federal police officers, with one killed and 140 reportedly injured. The Department of Justice and FBI are debating not charging some rioters. Others are being allowed to vacation in tropical beach resorts, being fed special diets, or are walking free despite violent pasts and ties to extremists.
The Raw Story has rounded up some of the most flagrant cases of leniency, which serve as a warning that if the feds go easy on extremists who tried to overthrow the government, then that is likely to embolden more political violent in the future.
Charged with five offenses for her role in the deadly insurrection, Texas resident Jenny Cudd has been given permission to go on a four-day getaway to Cancun, Mexico. Cudd livestreamed as she strode through the Capitol of January 6 wearing a Trump flag like a cape, crowing, "We did break down Nancy Pelosi's office door." She bragged on Facebook, "Fuck yes, I am proud of my actions. I fucking charged the Capitol today with patriots." Two days later, Cudd told an NBC news affiliate, "I would absolutely do it again." Trump-appointed U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden approved her request to travel to the Caribbean resort starting February 18. He said "there was no evidence she was a flight risk or posed a danger to others." Back in Cudd's hometown of Midland, one pro-mask advocate told the Washington Post that she feared for her safety as Cudd targeted "those who supported mask ordinances and openly discussed buying ammunition and a coming 'revolution.'"
Jacob Anthony Chansley, the infamous "Q Shaman" who invaded the Capitol wearing a coyote-skin and buffalo-horn headdress was transferred to a jail in Alexandria, Virginia, solely to meet his demands for organic food. His attorney claimed organic food is part of his "shamanic belief system and way of life." Chansley carried a metal-tipped spear into the Senate and sported Nordic tattoos on his bare torso, including a valknut, composed of three interlocking triangles, that is associated with white supremacists. Prosecutors said, "Chansley is an active participant in—and has made himself the most prominent symbol of—a violent insurrection that attempted to overthrow the United States Government." Meanwhile last summer ICE forced several dozen Muslims, members of an actual religion, imprisoned in Florida to accept meals with pork.
Among Republican lawmakers from at least seven states who joined Trump's putsch was Derrick Evans, who had been sworn into the West Virginia House of Delegates weeks earlier. Livestreaming while invading the Capitol, he yelled, "We're in, we're in! Derrick Evans is in the Capitol." Evans, whose charges include violent entry and disorderly conduct, built his political brand on filming himself while screaming at women and people of color. Prosecutors did not ask for Evans detention in connection with the insurrection and he was freed. While Evans resigned his seat, his arrest did not come as a surprise for those he harassed for years. Staff at a women's health clinic said Evans would scream at them, "You are pathetic! You are a witch! You are a baby killer!", while indicating he was armed with a gun.
To join Trump's mob, Texas real-estate agent Jenna Ryan hopped a private jet to Washington. The morning of the coup, Ryan posted a video to Facebook saying, "We're gonna go down and storm the Capitol. … This is a prelude going to war." She doubled-down afterwards, saying of the deaths in the Capitol, "we don't care because our freedom is more important to us than our lives." Ryan was released shortly after being arrested and told the media, "I think we all deserve a pardon."
Riley June Williams was charged with helping to steal a laptop from Nancy Pelosi's office and plotting to sell it to Russian intelligence services. Williams, who was caught on video directing other rioters towards Pelosi's office, was released into her mother's custody in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on January 21. Prosecutors argued initially for her continued detainment as a flight risk, noting that after the putsch, she changed her phone number, deleted all her social media accounts, and fled her home saying "she would be gone for a couple of weeks."
Rendall Brock, Jr., a retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force, was pictured on the floor of the U.S. Senate in a combat helmet, tactical gear, and carrying zip ties. U.S. prosecutors asked for detention, saying "his prior experience and training make him all the more dangerous. They claimed of Brock, "He means to take hostages. He means to kidnap, restrain, perhaps try, perhaps execute members of the U.S. government." Family and friends added that "he's gotten extreme" and "they believed white-supremacist views may have contributed to his motivations." Brock was freed by Magistrate Judge Jeffrey L. Cureton on January 15.
At least six members of the "violent neo-fascist gang the Proud Boys" have been indicted, including leader Joseph Biggs, who is also a former associate of conspiracist Alex Jones. The Department of Justice has hinted in filings against the Proud Boys of evidence of a coordinated attack, which could lead to seditious conspiracy or RICO charges typically used against the mafia. Biggs is known for using social media to broadcast violent threats against his opponents, which earned him a visit from the FBI two years ago, while The Raw Story described in a 2018 investigation the links between the Proud Boys and violent neo-Nazis. Despite this, federal prosecutors let Biggs off with a $25,000 unsecured bond. At the same time, prosecutors pointed to the Proud Boys as a reason to detain Ethan Nordean, a well-known street brawler who appears frequently with Biggs in public. The feds convinced a judge to deny Nordean bail saying he "was part of the group that helped plan how the Proud Boys would act during the riot."
Olympic gold medalist Klete Keller can now add Capitol Hill insurrectionist to his resume. In recent years, Keller's social media "included a stream of pro-Trump messaging" and he participated in a previous protest promoting the falsehood Trump won the 2020 election. Keller has been charged with three offenses and was freed without bail.
Robert Packer, who donned a "Camp Auschwitz" sweatshirt for the storming of the Capitol, was released on personal recognizance. Packer has a criminal history including a felony conviction for forgery and is a "long-time extremist" according to those who know him.
Some of the most notorious individuals involved in the failed coup were ordered free or allowed to post bond before other judges stepped in to keep them detained.
Beverly Hill salon owner Gina Bisignano readily identified herself as mascara-stained tears ran down her face during the insurrection. As the mob broke into the Capitol Bisignano yelled through a bullhorn, "Everybody, we need gas masks. We need weapons. We need strong angry patriots." One of three Beverly Hills residents arrested for their role in the coup, Bisignano was indicted on seven counts including engaging in physical violence and obstructing an official proceeding, which carries a 20-year sentence. She was freed on $170,000 bail before being taken back into custody days later.
Richard Barnett was granted pretrial release before being overruled by a U.S. district judge. He was photographed with feet on Pelosi's desk and is accused of stealing mail from her office. The judge who ordered Barnett's release said, "He appears to be a law abiding citizen." Leading up to the failed Capitol Hill coup, Barnett called himself a white nationalist, purchased a stun gun, pepper spray, and walkie-talkies, and wrote on Facebook, "I'm not afraid to go out … kicking and screaming, covered in someone else's blood."
QAnon supporter Douglas Jensen who chased Capitol Hill police officer Eugene Goodman through the Senate building was set to be freed before another judge ordered his continued detention. Goodman was hailed as a hero for leading the mob away from the open Senate chambers while Jensen's past achievements include domestic assault, drunk driving, theft, and conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance.
One commentator wrote of the Mexican-bound Jenny Cudd that her case "proves white privilege defines our justice system." If that white privilege allows people who tried to overturn a legitimate election to escape justice, then the result will be the rise of a smarter and more competent Trump down the road.