One defendant, Robert Reeder of Harford County, Md., is a registered Democrat who told FBI agents he found the former president distasteful. But he liked the message of “Make America Great Again,” and after the election, he touted groundless claims of fraud on Facebook.
“Civil war is coming,” he wrote in December. “This time the conservatives will stand their ground and the radicals will die.”
He later said he only decided to attend Trump’s rally that morning. He had never been to a protest before.
“I wasn’t with anyone; I didn’t have any battle gear,” Reeder said in an interview with FBI agents. “The only thing in my backpack was two protein bars.”
Reeder told the FBI that he did not see himself as part of the mob that fought its way into the Capitol, even though he entered the building twice, going through tear gas and pepper balls and engaging physically with police officers, according to court filings.
“This is not me,” he told the agents, “and yet here we are.”
That night, he called his brother and said “how bad he felt about being there,” David Reeder testified at sentencing in early October. He said his brother wasn’t one of the “wack jobs.” The family was “appalled by his participation,” his brother said, but a harsh punishment would also be “appalling.”
Reeder — who pleaded guilty to demonstrating in the Capitol — apologized profusely at sentencing, calling the riot “disgusting” and his actions “shameful, inexcusable.” When pressed by U.S. District Judge Thomas F. Hogan of Washington, Reeder admitted to shoving a police officer but said it was an accidental response to getting hit.
The judge, calling his account “disingenuous” and “prevaricating,” sentenced Reeder to three months in jail.
Reeder was not simply swept along by events, the judge said.
“It’s become evident to me in the riot cases, the post-riot cases, that many of the defendants who are pleading guilty are not truly accepting responsibility,” Hogan said. Reeder was present for large stretches of the riot and would have heard alarms, felt pepper spray and seen people pushing and charging in to police, the judge added: “It’s rewriting history and the facts to say you didn’t know what was going on. . . . I’ve had too many people say that to me.”