Dozens of more than 500 people indicted in connection with the January 6 riot on Capitol Hill have been accused in court documents of trying to remove photos and other content from their phones and social media accounts in order to hide their participation in the mob attack.
According to an analysis of The Associated Press, at least 49 accused persons by the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia have been charged with attempting to erase content online and on cell phones since Jan.6.
Investigators were able to track down numerous pro-Trump rioters through photos and videos posted to social media as well as security footage and phone data placing individuals in and around the Capitol building at the time of the attack. attack.
However, the AP noted that only a handful of riot defendants have actually been charged with tampering with evidence in connection with their removal of material from phones and social media accounts.
Forgery of documents or procedures was one of the charges against several alleged members of the right-wing paramilitary group the Oath Keepers in a substitute indictment earlier this year which included additional crimes such as conspiracy, obstructing formal proceedings and destroying government property.
According to prosecutors, one defendant said Mark Grods, the second member of the Oath Keepers to plead guilty to conspiracy in connection with the riot, which he should “ensure that all signal communications regarding the operation have been removed and burned.
Further, prosecutors said in court documents that alleged member of the Oath Keepers and Navy veteran Thomas Caldwell between January 6 and 16 “tampered with, destroyed, mutilated and concealed a file, document and other object, and attempted to do so, with the intention to undermine its integrity and its availability for use in official proceedings.
Prosecutors said Caldwell sent and then unsent a video of the riot and deleted photographs from his Facebook account that apparently “documented his participation in the attack.”
David Lesperance, a church member in Melbourne, Florida, led by a father-son duo also accused of participating in the riot, admitted to federal authorities that he took photos and videos while at Capitol Hill on January 6 “but then deleted them for fear of negative repercussions.”
Although Lesperance has not been charged with tampering with evidence, he faces penalties for allegedly entering a restricted building, disorderly or disruptive conduct, and violent entering the Capitol grounds.
The AP reported in April that riot advocates were trying to use journalism as part of their defense, arguing that they were part of the mob that stormed the Capitol in protest. President BidenJoe BidenFive Big Questions on the January 6 Select Committee While Afghanistan remains in limbo, can the global South trust the West? When should the president be able to fire a watchdog? AFTERelection victory in order to broadcast live and cover the protests for right-wing news sites.