Faruqui’s decision closed a bizarre hearing on an equally extraordinary case. Reffitt was reported to the FBI by his son Jackson the week before the January 6 riot, and an unidentified family member secretly taped several conversations upon his return from Washington.
Reffitt also told his son and daughter that if they handed him over to the FBI, they would be traitors and “traitors will be shot.”
Jackson Reffitt told the FBI he feared his father could harm him and he has since moved to an “unknown location” according to prosecutors.
In addition, prosecutors revealed encrypted messages in which Reffitt spoke of his ability to source police-grade firearms and use them to recapture our country in future media and social media company actions.
But it was the appearance of Reffitt’s daughter Peyton, who was ushered into the room by his wife Nicole during a two-hour trial of Zoom Monday – one of the few Capitol-related hearings that had live testimony to discuss the matter. The hearing shed light on a family torn apart by the uprising and its aftermath, and showed the personal toll that participants in the uprising have placed on their families and communities.
Jackson, who reported his father to the FBI around Christmas, has since conducted national interviews and publicly defended his decision on social media. Peyton said in her testimonial that he just wasn’t that close to her father and didn’t understand what his words meant.
“Absolutely not,” she said repeatedly when asked if she thought her father would ever hurt her or her brother.
Peyton recalled the exchange in which her father said “traitors will be shot,” but said she never saw the comment as a real threat. Rather, she said, her father often says things that “cross the line” and get buffers but never hurt his family.
“I wasn’t scared,” she said. “It was just annoying in a way. He says things that cross the line all the time. I didn’t feel threatened at all. “
Peyton’s friend, who witnessed the exchange and temporarily stayed in the Reffitts’ house, also vouched for this characterization.
The exchange was cumbersome. Reffitt’s wife and daughter struggled with the mute button, connectivity issues, and general ignorance of the process – although Peyton stressed how many documents she had read in preparation and noted that she had testified on her father’s case before a grand jury.
The prosecutors carefully tried to tear apart her testimony. US assistant attorney Jeffrey Nestler noted that Peyton and her boyfriend may not feel threatened, but Jackson, who had already reported his father to the FBI, was uniquely subjected to his father’s threatening language.
The family seemed surprised by the Faruqui’s conciliatory decision and sobbed – the mute button was officially turned off – as they processed the news.
“Unfortunately, I think detention here is appropriate. It is not easy for me to say. …
My heart is broken, ”said Faruqui. “I see your family suffer … but the law requires me to look at the facts.”
The judge realized the inconvenience of the hearing, and especially the outcome, and was extremely concerned for Reffitt’s wife and daughter.
“I admire your daughter’s wisdom that people can have different political views and we still have to be a family,” said Faruqui, pausing to apply the same belief to the “American family”.
“This was not an easy decision,” Faruqui said at one point, although he later said he was “very concerned” about the threat posed by Guy Reffitt and that the accused was in “a different category” from most of the other Capitol riots Suspects.
Faruqui also tried to break the tension with a few jokes. After Nestler asked Peyton’s boyfriend about their relationship, the judge said he was impressed with the kind words she had given her father.
“Always be nice to your daughter’s boyfriend. I’ll remind myself of that,” said Faruqui.
Faruqui said he was particularly concerned about government claims, based on alleged allegations by Reffitt, that he brought two firearms into Washington and brought one into hand-to-hand combat in the Capitol.
“This shows me intent that he came with the intention of fighting,” said the judge. “This is someone who came armed and ready to fight.”
Reffitt is charged with two crimes: obstruction of an official process and obstruction of the judiciary because of threatening his children as well as an offense because of unauthorized entry into areas protected by the secret service. Prosecutors say he planned a plot to attack the Capitol, drove across the country to carry it out, and – although he was ultimately not charged with any violent crime – returned to Texas with plans to commit other acts of violence.
Prosecutors identified Reffitt as the leader of the Texas Three Percenters, a group that believes the US government is related to British oppressors and that a small minority of armed militias can use force to take them back. Telegram messages sent to his group between Reffitt and potential recruits were part of the government’s case.
Despite prosecutors’ allegations that Reffitt brought a gun to the Capitol grounds, the current charges do not accuse him of having one there.
Reffitt is one of several Capitol defendants who appear to have spent many weeks en route to Washington after being arrested and appearing in court. Welch found Monday that Reffitt was arrested almost two months ago. The defense attorney also said his client spent three days in a hospital intensive care unit during that time because the authorities did not provide him with the necessary medication.