Texas man testified to bringing guns to DC for Jan. 6
Hardie visited the Capitol saying that from a distance, people climbing the scaffolding in front of the building looked like spiders crawling up the walls. He saw people breaking through the police barricade and said he got close enough to the outside of the Capitol to have hit a wall. On the radio, he said Reffitt had talked about trying to get inside the building, but not being able to get there after being sprayed with pepper spray.
Back at the hotel, Reffitt was in pain from being doused and shot with projectiles, Hardie said; the jury saw a photo taken by Hardie of Reffitt’s bruised legs. Reffitt bragged about his confrontation with a female police officer who was shooting at him; the jury heard earlier this week from this former United States Capitol police officer, Shauni Kerkhoff. Hardie called Reffitt back saying he had allowed the rest of the crowd to move on; the government’s theory is that although Reffitt did not enter the building, he served as the “point of the mob’s spear”.
After Hardie and Reffitt returned to Texas, Reffitt sent a message to a Telegram group on January 10, 2021, stating that TTP State Leader Russ Teer had been questioned by law enforcement. Asked by a prosecutor on Friday what was going through his mind at the time, Hardie replied, “Uh-oh.” Hardie said that after Reffitt sent another message that said, “Start purging all previous conversations,” he deleted some messages. Hardie said he decided to leave the militant group after being visited by the FBI a few weeks after the attack.
Reffitt’s attorney, William Welch III, briefly questioned Hardie, having him confirm that although his immunity agreement did not fully protect him from prosecution, he had not been charged to date. Welch asked Hardie if Reffitt was bragging. He said yes. Welch asked if Reffitt used hyperbole. When Hardie said yes, Welch asked if that happened often. “Once in a while,” Hardie replied.
“State of emergency”
Friday began with a brief lesson in civics for the jury, with former Senate Secretary General Counsel Daniel Schwager walking through the structure of Congress and the constitutionally mandated duties members performed when they met at the meeting. a joint session on January 6, 2021, to certify the results of the Electoral College.
Schwager was in the Senate Chamber when the Capitol was breached and identified himself in video that day moving to the dais area from the back of the chamber. When he saw then-Vice President Mike Pence leave the room, he said: ‘I knew we were in a dangerous situation and that we were about to go into some protocols on which we had worked for the lock, because when the room was threatened. .” He testified that he saw United States Capitol Police officers lock the doors – a shorter officer had to jump out because some of the ornate wooden doors are so tall, he recalls – and how a officer stood holding a “very large” and “very long” pistol. .
“I was already in a state of alarm and things like that frankly comforted me because … my perception was already that we were in serious danger,” Schwager said upon seeing the officer with the weapon.
The second witness was US Secret Service Special Agent Paul Wade, who handled security for Secret Service proteges — like the President and Vice President — when they visited the Capitol. When he arrived at the Capitol on Jan. 6, he said he saw the metal bike rack security perimeter around the complex and thought it looked adequate. After escorting Pence’s wife and daughter to the Senate Gallery to observe the joint session that afternoon, Wade said he went to the basement but soon heard some fighting and running; he learned from officers that the building had been breached and immediately went back upstairs.
Wade testified that he stayed with the Pence family until Congress could resume joint session that evening once the building was cleared; he identified himself in surveillance camera footage that recorded the Pences’ evacuation from the Senate Chamber. Reffitt’s attorney, William Welch, asked Wade if he had seen his client that day, and Wade said no. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Nestler then asked Wade if the Secret Service had taken emergency action due to someone’s activities; Wade said no, it was because they had been informed that hundreds of people were entering the building.
The jury also heard from an FBI photographer who documented the search of Reffitt’s home, Karla Kennedy, and the lead FBI agent on the Texas side of the investigation, Laird Hightower. Hightower spoke of seeing a tip submitted by Reffitt’s then 18-year-old son Jackson about his father’s plans to go to DC — Jackson had submitted the tip online on Dec. 24, but Hightower said he did not see him until Jan. 6, after the crowd reached the Capitol. Hightower met Jackson on Jan. 11 at a restaurant and said the teen seemed “worried,” “concerned” and “calm.”
A day earlier, Jackson took to the stage to describe the events leading up to his decision to submit the tip in December, as well as the secret recordings he made of his father after Reffitt returned from DC. At the Jan. 11 meeting, Hightower confirmed that Jackson handed over those recordings along with screenshots of texts Reffitt sent to his family group chat. The agent said he took Jackson seriously, and their meeting spurred a full investigation into Reffitt.
The jury saw the handgun and rifle seized from Reffitt’s house, the helmet he wore on Capitol Hill and the flexible plastic cuffs that Hardie said Reffitt brought, and a tactical vest filled with 22 pounds of ballistic plates, according to Hightower. The FBI didn’t take the holster they found in Reffitt’s house, so Hightower used one that was the same model the government had purchased to demonstrate how it attached to a woman’s pants. person and how the gun found in Reffitt’s house would fit there.
Welch questioned Hightower briefly, including on the reliability of the video the government had used to capture the image of what they said showing the holster on Reffitt’s waist. He also asked Hightower if Jackson told him about his father’s drinking habits and if his father had a job.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Nestler told the judge the government expected to close his case by noon on Monday. Welch said he has no plans to call any witnesses.