First Capitol Rioter to Go to Trial Gets 7 Years
A loudmouth III%er cried like a baby during his sentencing.
NBC News (“Capitol rioter Guy Reffitt gets longest Jan. 6 sentence, but no terrorism enhancement“):
A Donald Trump fan from Texas who tried to storm the U.S. Capitol while armed with a gun was sentenced to more than 7 years in prison on Monday after a judge denied the Justice Department’s request for a “terrorism enhancement” that would have resulted in a lengthier prison sentence.
Guy Reffitt was the first Jan. 6 defendant to go to trial. Reffitt’s own son actually tipped off the FBI a couple of weeks before Jan. 6 but didn’t hear back until after the attack. The government had an enormous amount of evidence against Reffitt, including his friend’s testimony that Reffitt was carrying zip ties and that the duo had made a decision to carry guns because they’d rather be “tried by a jury of 12 than carried by six.”
This is more evidence that he’s an idiot who thinks life is a television show than that he’s a criminal mastermind. It’s literally a slogan from a t-shirt.
Reffitt was convicted on five counts in March, including transport of a firearm in support of civil disorder and obstruction of an official proceeding, although he did not make it inside the Capitol or use physical violence because he was eventually incapacitated after charging the police line.
Judge Dabney L. Friedrich, sentenced Reffitt to 87 months in prison, three years of probation, $2,000 in restitution, and mandatory mental health treatment.
That seems about right to me.
“Under no legitimate definition of the term patriot does Mr. Reffitt’s behavior on and around January 6 fit the term,” Friedrich said.
What Reffitt and others did that day was the “antithesis” of patriotism, Friedrich said.
I maintain my longtime belief that judges ought refrain from pontificating from the bench. Reffitt’s patriotism is not on trial and, indeed, there is no “patriotism” defense for his crimes. But Friedrich ain’t wrong, either.
In court Monday, Reffitt described himself as “a f—ing idiot” and was “not thinking clearly” when he tried to storm the U.S. Capitol.
“I clearly f—ed up,” Reffitt said.
“I did want to definitely make an apology, multiple apologies really, and accept my responsibility because I do hate what I did,” he said.
Reffitt, who was a member of the Texas III%ers, told the judge that he no longer want to associate with militia groups or “or any stupid s— like that.”
Let’s stipulate that Reffitt is not the sharpest tool in the shed. I have no idea whether his post-arrest ordeal has reshaped his worldview, although I would bet that he’s still a racist POS. But I do suspect that he has been made painfully aware that he’s no hero.
Friedrich, a Trump appointee and a former member of the U.S. Sentencing Commission, said that giving Reffitt a sentencing enhancement for carrying a gun during the commission of a crime and for committing a crime of domestic terrorism would create a sentencing disparity with other Jan. 6 defendants.
“There are a lot of cases where defendants committed very violent assaults and even possessed weapons … that did not receive this departure,” Freidrich said.
It’s interesting that the judge, a Trump appointee, so vociferously called out Reffitt’s scumbaggery. But she’s also right that “terrorism” is a ridiculous upcharge.
Prosecutors had argued that the upward departure for terrorism was warranted because Reffitt was “planning to overtake our government.”
“He wasn’t done,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Nestler said. “Jan. 6 was the preface.”
“We do believe that what he was doing that day was terrorism, we do believe he is a domestic terrorist,” Nestler continued.
That argument is both absurd under any understanding of terrorism in the national security space and yet plausible under the letter of the U.S. Code, which includes an intent “to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion” as one qualifying factor.” The law is ridiculously overbroad.
I’m amenable to persuasion that the senior plotters of the riot—the inner circles of the Proud Boys, IIIers, etc.—qualify as domestic terrorists and should be charged as such. But it doesn’t make much sense in the case of more lowlifes like this dude.
Reffitt wore a camera on his body that recorded his violent rhetoric during the Trump rally that preceded the riot.
“I’m taking the Capitol with everybody f—ing else,” Guy Reffitt said in his own recording, as “Tiny Dancer” played at Trump’s Jan. 6 rally. “We’re all going to drag them motherf—ers out kicking and screaming, I don’t give a s—. I just want to see Pelosi’s head hit every f—ing stair on the way out, and Mitch McConnell too, f— ’em all… It’s time to take our country back… I think we have the numbers to make it happen.”
He also recorded a Zoom meeting on his computer where he talked extensively about his actions on Jan. 6.
Again, I see this simply as evidence that Reffitt is a pathetic loser who thought he was going to be some kind of hero while in the safety of a mob.
Nestler had argued Monday that Reffitt “is in a class all by himself,” but Freidrich said she was “not so sure I agree with the government on that” given how many other Jan. 6 defendants said similar things.
“This defendant has some frightening claims that border on delusional, and they are extraordinarily concerning for the court,” Freidrich said. “But other defendants did too. That’s the point I’m trying to make.”
Friedrich is right here. Reffitt is deserving of a much harsher sentence than the yahoos and lookie-loos who showed up well after the doors were breached to take selfies for their Instagram, or even actual rioters who showed up unarmed and committed no acts of violence. But he’s not a terrorist nor a mastermind. He’s just a stupid sonofabitch trying to convince himself that he’s not the total loser that even his kid seems to think he is.
Matthew Graves, the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, said Monday’s sentence held Reffitt accountable for “his violent, unconscionable conduct” and said Reffitt’s behavior “contributed to the many assaults on law enforcement officers that day, putting countless more people — including legislators — at risk.”
But, crucially, despite his tough-guy rhetoric, he himself committed no acts of violence. Seven-plus years in prison seems more than sufficient to demonstrate to him the error of his ways.
Steven M. D’Antuono, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, said Reffitt showed “wanton disregard” for the peaceful transition of power.
“The FBI and our law enforcement partners continue to be steadfast in our commitment to ensure that all individuals who committed crimes on Jan. 6 are held to account for their actions,” D’Antuono said.
Again, that was true of everyone there that day, even those who were simply exercising their 1st Amendment rights. We punish people for the actual violations of the law they commit, near their belief systems.
In court on Monday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Risa Berkower read a brief letter from Reffitt’s son Jackson Reffitt, who testified against his father. He wanted mental health treatment to be part of his father’s sentence.
“My father has lost himself to countless things,” Jackson Reffitt wrote. “The prison system should be used not to destroy a person, but to rehabilitate one.”
We are decidedly not good at that but, yes, we ought take a stab at working on Reffitt’s multiple issues while he’s in our custody.
Peyton Reffitt, one of Guy Reffitt’s daughters, said her father was not a threat and that his mental health was “a real issue.” She had a hard time making it through some of her statement because she was overcome with emotion, and her father was visibly crying.
Reffitt’s daughter had previously written a letter to the judge that it was “enormously embarrassing” that her father — like a lot of “middle-aged white men” — was sucked in by Trump and that her dad “fell to his knees when President Trump spoke.”
“President Trump deceived my father and many other normal citizens with families to believe that this past election was fraudulent,” the 18-year-old wrote in her letter.
She argued Monday that her father did not play a leadership role on Jan. 6.
“My father’s name wasn’t on all the flags that were there that day, that everyone was carrying,” she said in court. “It was another man’s name.”
If nothing else, Reffitt’s kids seem to be much more useful citizens than he is.
Moving beyond this loser, though, my sense that we would dispose of the lowest-level offenders, giving them relatively modest sentences, and then move up the food chain seems to be working out thus far. My strong hunch is that Reffitt’s 87 months will be a floor for the more violent participants and I expect very harsh sentences, indeed, for the key leaders.
Alas, I’m still not sure that holds true for Trump and others in suits who inspired the whole thing. It’s always harder to nail down those who gave the orders—especially in a non-direct way—than it is the guys who actually carry out the dirty work.