In May, violent J-6 insurrectionist Thomas Webster, a NYC ex-cop and former Marine, tried persuading a jury in DC that when he assaulted DC police office Noah Rathbun with a metal flagpole, it was just self-defense. The jury didn’t buy it and found Webster guilty. He’s 56 years old and yesterday he was sentenced to 10 years in prison, the longest sentence of any J-6 rioter so far.
Last night CNN reported that “In videos played during his trial, the 56-year-old former Marine can be seen swinging a metal flagpole at DC officer Noah Rathbun before crossing police barriers at the US Capitol and tackling Rathbun, choking him with the officer’s chinstrap. In May, Webster was found guilty of all six charges he faced, five of which were felonies.”
“It is not until you arrived, Mr. Webster, that all hell broke loose,” Judge Amit Mehta said of the police line which Webster broke.
“I still remained shocked every time I see it,” Mehta said of the video. “Nobody pushed you forward, you ran,” the judge added, noting several times how the video completely contradicted Webster’s own testimony of the assault.
“You constructed an alternative truth,” Mehta said of Webster’s testimony on the stand in May, adding that his claims of self-defense were “just not credible” and calling his testimony “utterly fanciful.”
Webster, who spoke through tears before his sentence was handed down, asked Mehta for “mercy,” saying that he “failed to have the courage to contain” himself that day.
“I can never look at my kids the same way again,” Webster said. “The way they look at me, it’s different now… I was their hero until January 6.”
Officer Rathbun, dressed in his police uniform, attended the hearing, sitting in the back of the courtroom.
Turning to Rathbun, Webster apologized to the officer, simply saying he was sorry.
During the sentencing, prosecutors noted that Webster brought a firearm to Washington, DC– which he left behind on January 6– and wore his police-issued body armor to the Capitol.
Webster’s attorney, James Monroe, wrote in a court filing that Webster’s actions– which he previously argued were in self-defense and justified– were now “unmistakably violent and reprehensible,” calling them, “unspeakable” acts.
Monroe told judge Mehta that Webster should be sentenced to time served for what he called “seconds of stupidity.”
“He’s such a decent guy,” Monroe said.
Monroe also shifted the blame to former President Donald Trump and the Republican party for turning Webster, and “otherwise decent, law abiding individuals… against fellow Americans.
Mehta didn’t fall for that and around the same time that Monroe was trying to shift the blame to Trump and the GOP, Trump was on the radio with notorious racist radio host Wendy Bell, promising pardons for all the insurrectionists and J-6 rioters. Not just pardons, also apologies from the government. The Washington Post’s Mariana Alfaro reported the conversation: “I mean full pardons with an apology to many… I am financially supporting people that are incredible and they were in my office actually two days ago, so they’re very much in my mind. It’s a disgrace what they’ve done to them. What they’ve done to these people is disgraceful.”
The former president, who has not officially announced a 2024 presidential bid but is expected to do so, said that, if “I decide to run, and if I win, I will be looking very, very strongly about pardons, full pardons.”
“That is probably going to be best, because even if they go for two months or six months [to jail], they have sentences that could go a lot longer than that,” he said.
“Oh, years and years,” Bell added.
“We’re working on it very hard, we’re working with legal,” Trump said, though he also did not offer details about how he is “financially supporting” the rioters.
And while Trump appears to be touting his generosity toward supporters who participated in the Capitol riot, as the Daily Beast reported in May and August last year, the former president has notably refused to pay the legal fees of his attorney and close ally Rudy Giuliani, who faces multiple investigations in his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
In his interview with Bell, Trump suggested that the Jan. 6 defendants are “mostly” “firemen, they’re policemen, they’re people in the military.” He accused the justice system, which he described as “this radical left system,” of mistreating the defendants.
“They’re sick, they don’t mind,” Trump said. “Some of the legal people on the other side, they’re the most coldhearted people. They don’t care about families. They don’t care about anything.”
The former president then launched into a plea that “contributions should be made” to defendants’ legal funds, though he did not promote any specific giving channel.
“I’m looking at it very carefully… I’ve studied cases,” Trump said. “We have to do it, because they have some good lawyers, but even [with] the good lawyers… you get some of these judges that are so, so nasty and so angry and mean.”
It has been nearly 20 months since the deadly riot, and to date, about 370 rioters have pleaded guilty to federal charges or been convicted, and more than 220 have been sentenced. More than 800 defendants have been arrested and federally charged from nearly all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
…The second longest punishment [after Webster] was handed down a month ago to Guy Reffitt, a recruiter for the right-wing Three Percenters movement in Texas, who was convicted this year of five felony offenses, including obstruction of Congress as it met to affirm the 2020 election result, interfering with police and carrying a firearm to a riot.
Prosecutors said Reffitt led a mob while armed at the Capitol and asked a judge to sentence him to 15 years after applying a terrorism sentencing penalty. Reffitt was sentenced to more than seven years in prison.
Earlier this week, Joshua Pruitt, a member of the far-right Proud Boys group who instigated the Capitol mob and who menaced Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) during the attack, was sentenced to 55 months in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release. Investigators found that Pruitt was planning for full battle at the Capitol.
Pruitt pleaded guilty in June to obstructing an official proceeding, and federal sentencing guidelines recommended 51 to 63 months in prison, in part because he has a lengthy criminal history. While Pruitt, a former D.C. bartender, acknowledged that he broke laws, he said during his sentencing that he “did believe the election was stolen. I still do.”
On Thursday, a Pennsylvania man pleaded guilty to a chemical-spray assault on three police officers during the Jan. 6 insurrection, including Sicknick [who died the next day].
In a plea deal with federal prosecutors, Julian Khater, a smoothie-shop owner in State College, Pennsylvania, admitted to assaulting and injuring law enforcement officers with a dangerous weapon.
Khater pleaded guilty to counts punishable by up to 20 years in prison but faces a likely sentence of 78 to 97 months under federal guidelines negotiated with prosecutors. He has spent 17 months behind bars since his arrest and will be sentenced Dec. 13.
In poll after poll, a majority of voters disapprove of Trump and say they wouldn’t vote for him. And a new poll released yesterday by the Wall Street Journal found that a majority of Americans found that the FBI visit to Mar-a-Lago “was part of a legal and proper investigation to determine whether Trump was involved in any wrongdoing.” Only 41% disagree and see it’s a “witch hunt.” On Wednesday, the NY Post’s Andrew McCarthy pointed out that it’s now a forgone conclusion that Trump himself will be indicted for obstruction. It’s more likely that he’ll be begging for a pardon than pardoning anyone.