WASHINGTON — A right-wing activist who spoke at Freedom Plaza on Jan. 5 and then joined the assault on the Capitol the next day provided information to the FBI about rally organizers and more than a dozen other members of the “Stop the Steal” movement as part of a plea deal to avoid a felony charge, according to court filings newly unsealed this week.
Brandon Straka, 45, of Nebraska, pleaded guilty last fall to one misdemeanor count of disorderly conduct and was sentenced in January to 90 days of home detention and $5,000 in fines. In charging documents, prosecutors said Straka headed to the U.S. Capitol after receiving texts that the building had already been breached. Once there, videos show him encouraging other members of the mob and discussing his desire to enter the building. Afterward, he posted messages encouraging rioters to “hold the line” and comparing January 6 to 1776.
“I’m completely confused. For 6-8 weeks everybody on the right has been saying ‘1776!” & that if congress [sic] moves forward it will mean a revolution! So congress moves forward. Patriots storm the Capitol – now everybody is virtue signaling their embarrassment that this happened,” Straka wrote in one tweet.
At his sentencing hearing, assistant U.S. attorney Brittany Reed told a federal judge Straka’s conduct on Jan. 6 was “egregious” and, despite a cooperation agreement that got him out of a felony civil disorder charge, he should not be lumped in with other defendants who were caught up in the heat of the moment. Reed did not provide specifics about Straka’s cooperation on the public record and, at the time, many of the filings related to Straka’s sentencing were sealed.
On Wednesday, a batch of those documents was unsealed following a request from a media coalition of which WUSA9 is a member. Those newly unavailable documents included the substantial assistance sentencing memo filed by Straka’s attorney, Stuart J. Dornan.
In the memo, Dornan said Straka provided “significant information” to federal investigators over three interviews with the FBI following his arrest. In one interview on March 5, 2021, Straka, according to Dornan, provided information about "individuals who were inside of Nancy Pelosi's office; individuals who were inciters at the Capitol; and organizers of the Stop the Steal movement." He also listed the names of individuals Straka spoke to the FBI about. Those names include rally organizers Amy and Kylie Kremer, Cindy Chafian and Ali Alexander — who Dornan described as the “preeminent leader of the Stop the Steal movement.”
The majority of people on Dornan's list have not been accused of any crimes related to Jan. 6, but several, including the Kremers, Chafian and Alexander, have been named in the ongoing January 6th Committee investigation into the attack on the Capitol. The Kremers – the mother-daughter duo who founded Women for Trump and Women for America First – helped organize the Jan. 6 “Stop the Steal” rally and their names appear on the National Parks Service permit for the day. During a July 12 hearing, the committee displayed a Jan. 4, 2021, text message between Kylie Kremer and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell describing former President Donald Trump’s plan to “unexpectedly” call for his supporters to march to the Capitol on Jan. 6. At the same hearing, the committee showed an email from Chafian – who served as director for Women for America First – asking to change the date of a rally planned for after the inauguration to Jan. 6 the day after Trump sent his infamous “will be wild” tweet on Dec. 19, 2020, urging supporters to come to D.C.
Straka also gave contact information and other details about members of a “Stop the Steal” text thread that included, according to Dornan’s memo, Alexander and other right-wing personalities with large social media followings. As well, Dornan said, Straka provided unspecified information about Tea Party Patriots co-founder Jenny Beth Martin and anti-vax Dr. Simone Gold, who are both affiliated with America’s Frontline Doctors. Gold, like Straka, was charged in connection with the riot and pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of entering and remaining in a restricted building. She was sentenced in June to 60 days in jail and a $9,500 fine. Martin posted a picture of herself on social media in the audience of the “Save America March” on Jan. 6 and public video shows her using a megaphone on the west lawn of the Capitol later in the day urging protestors not to climb on scaffolding. She has not been charged in connection with the riot.
Dornan wrote Straka also provided FBI investigators with information about a fellow Nebraska resident who had not previously been identified. According to the memo, Straka provided the FBI information “sufficient to convict” the previously unidentified individual. To date, the individual has not been charged in connection with the riot.
Though the newly unsealed filings do provide an account of who Straka spoke to investigators about, the unsealed portion of Dornan’s filing does not contain a detailed account of what information he provided. A federal judge gave Dornan and prosecutors until Aug. 5 to tell her whether they think remaining exhibits under seal should be released, as well as to submit any proposed redactions to the transcript of a sealed hearing on Jan. 20.
Dornan did not respond to a request Wednesday for comment on this story. On Friday, however, another attorney for Straka — Bilal A. Essayli — filed a joint motion with the DOJ asking for a status hearing on the release of Straka's sentencing memo. The motion also asked for a longer window to respond to the media coalition's request for the remaining exhibits in Straka's case to be unsealed.
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