Jeffries identified himself as a lawmaker in the complaint on Tuesday. Speaking to MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, Jeffries said his brother received the news when members were evacuated from the Capitol when armed rioters stormed the building to stop the confirmation of President Joe Biden’s election. President Donald Trump was charged with incitement to riot the following week, and several of the rioters publicly said they were motivated to storm the Capitol over Trump.
Trump had for months voiced doubts about the legitimacy of the 2020 election, setting out conspiracy theories and falsehoods that the Democrats had withheld from him. Biden won both the referendum and electoral college, and election officials from both parties across the country said there was no evidence of widespread irregularities.
“What was terrifying in the message I received was that this person said, ‘Stop telling lies. Biden didn’t win. He won’t be president, ”Jeffries told Hayes on Tuesday. “And so he was radicalized by the big lie that Donald Trump told and that so many Republicans in the House and Senate supported.”
A New York-based relative of an unidentified journalist also received a threatening message from Lemke, according to the complaint.
“Words put you and your family at risk,” the message said, according to the complaint. “We are armed and ready nearby. Thousands of us are active / retired law enforcement, military, etc. That’s how we do it. ”
Trump has repeatedly called journalists an “enemy of the people” and several reporters at the Capitol during the attack said they were attacked and their equipment was destroyed.
According to a Justice Department press release, Lemke was arrested in Bay Point, California. He was charged with making threatening interstate communications that could last up to five years in prison.
“Instead of peacefully disagreeing, Lemke allegedly threatened to harm the families of these people and asked them to withdraw their statements,” said Manhattan attorney Audrey Strauss in the press release. “The electoral process is the essential mechanism by which our democracy works. While in any election it is inevitable that some will be disappointed with the outcome, threats of violence cannot and will not be tolerated. ”
Lemke claimed on his news and social media that he was a former law enforcement officer or military veteran, the complaint said. His Facebook profile and phone record showed that he was a former member of the Alameda County’s Sheriff’s Department. But The department issued a statement on Tuesday denies any connection with Lemke.
“There is very false information on social media that a Robert Lemke worked for the Alameda County sheriff,” the department said. “This information has been proven to be untrue by the FBI and our agency.”