POLITICO has agreed not to identify the accused or the state for fear of retaliation. Still, it is a sign that the January 6 committee is getting facts about Trump’s activities from unexpected sources: the defendants who broke into the Capitol on his behalf.
More than 100 Capitol Riots accused have pleaded guilty to their roles in the attack, most of misdemeanors. The January 6th Special Committee began collecting voluntary testimony from these rioters last month. This request seems to be bearing fruit. At least three convicted rioters have cooperated or indicated their intention to speak to the committee, including Leonard Gruppo, who testified on October 12, according to court records. And more could come: Judge Beryl Howell, chief of the Washington DC District Court, recently credited Gruppo during his conviction for working with Congress.
The defendants’ interviews are part of more than 150 the committee has held in recent days to ask for details on Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election results. The panel has taken a far-reaching approach in its investigation, summoning top Trump officials such as former chief of staff Mark Meadows to reverse his defeat from the organizers of a pro-Trump rally on the 6th.
According to the source familiar with the testimony of the defendant who interviewed this week, the defendant was also urged to describe the reasons for attending Trump’s January 6 rally and subsequent march to the Capitol – and the responses made it clear that the accused and others had entered reaction to Trump and marched on his instructions to the Capitol. Many also left after telling them to go home – a call that came hours after lawmakers asked him to call his supporters but received no response.
The Gruppo’s attorney, Daniel Lindsey, offered a similar portrayal of his client’s interview with the panel.
“He gave them details of why he went to Washington, what he did, and what he did that day,” Lindsey said. “Mr. Gruppo is a great man and it was an honor to represent him. Former President Trump has left chaos, damage and heartbreak and he has shown no responsibility for all the lies.”
Prosecutors charged Gruppo with a crime of illegally entering the Capitol. In their recommendation for sentencing, prosecutors say Gruppo drove his wife from New Mexico to attend Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally on the morning of January 6th.
The retired army lieutenant colonel walked into the Capitol despite obvious signs that police were trying to turn her away.
During the sentencing, Howell denied the prosecution’s motion to sentence him to 30 days in prison. Instead, she gave him a suspended sentence and said he had shown remorse, “particularly through discussions with congressmen on the select committee.”