US

Government forced to reveal Pence’s location on January 6 during ‘Cowboys For Trump’ founder’s trial

Information about Pence’s underground location was first shared by ABC News reporter Jonathan Karl, who said he saw photos of Pence while researching a book on Trump. Griffin’s defense team cited reports of Karl’s version of events arguing that the government should be required to provide any information it has about Pence’s location, in case the underground area is far from the Capitol and well beyond the security perimeter.

Trying to avoid having to speak directly to the location issue, prosecutors did not concede that Pence was outside the restricted area, but argued that legally it ultimately did not. it didn’t matter since they only had to prove that Pence “would” visit the area later to satisfy the elements of the crimes. McFadden concluded that Griffin had the right to test the government’s theory of exactly where Pence was.

The judge went further, repeating a point he had previously made in writing that if the government did not want certain information made public because it was too sensitive, it had the option of dropping the charges – there was no Secret Service exception to the government’s burden of proving its case beyond a reasonable doubt.

US Secret Service agent Lanelle Hawa testified Monday that she was with Pence, his wife and their daughter on January 6 when they left the Senate Chamber and Pence’s ceremonial office and were evacuated to the wharf loading. She explained that the area was under a plaza on the Senate side of the Capitol, near the Capitol Visitor Center. It was within the larger security perimeter that had been put in place around the Capitol grounds, she testified.

Smith had suggested earlier in the day that if Pence was underground it might not count as being in the restricted area since it was a “different spatial dimension”. During a tense period of questioning, the judge largely upheld the government’s objections to Smith’s efforts to have Hawa address various hypothetical scenarios about how the Secret Service would set up security perimeters for a traveling vice president, including whether a perimeter would apply to an underground tunnel.

Smith also asked if the Secret Service was involved in defining the security perimeter around the Capitol. Hawa replied that she did not recall any specific conversations about it, but that based on the “long-standing relationship” between the two agencies regarding security at the Capitol, the Secret Service understood where the scope for an event like the Jan 6 certifications.

Regarding video footage of Pence in that underground location during the breach, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kimberly Paschall said in the morning that this presented another problem since U.S. Capitol Police repossessed the video, so it was not within the authority of the Justice Department to simply give it to Griffin’s attorney.

Thomas DiBiase, the general counsel for the United States Capitol Police, told the judge he would have to get permission from the agency’s board to release surveillance footage to a third party, and that might take a day or two. The judge declined to extend the trial date, simply asking Paschall if the government wanted to proceed with a trial or dismiss the case. Paschall said they would move on, and if the judge determines they violated the rules of evidence, they could address the issue of a potential penalty later.

At the end of the day, however, Paschall announced that the board had given the go-ahead to share it with the defense.

“We’re not going anywhere”

The first government witness was Matthew Struck, a Colorado video editor who was granted immunity to testify. Struck said he became friends with Griffin in 2019 and they traveled to DC together. His videos are central to the government’s case against Griffin, showing his travels from the Ellipse, where Trump spoke at a “Stop the Steal” rally, to the Capitol.

Struck said he had filmed events for Cowboys for Trump before and wasn’t being paid when he recorded videos Jan. 6. He said he did not work for Griffin, and when Griffin asked him for footage to share with the media after Griffin’s arrest, he refused.

Thanks to Struck’s testimony, the government presented videos showing Griffin walking through what appeared to be a plank of wood on a short wall to get closer to an area in front of the Capitol. Other videos showed Griffin climbing a flight of stairs in a temporary scaffolding structure that had been built around the Capitol for the inauguration festivities and, from a higher platform, addressing the crowd below. Struck said Griffin tried to lead a prayer — the judge saw a clip of it — and the crowd seemed “calmed down” by it.

Assistant US Attorney Janani Iyengar released further clips of Struck’s footage which showed Griffin expressing support for the growing crowd outside, making comments such as “people are ready for a fair and legal election or that’s what you’re gonna get and you’re gonna get more” and “we’re not going anywhere”.

The government also showed videos that Struck filmed on January 5 and 7. The day after the attack, Struck filmed Griffin talking about his experience, with Griffin explaining that he learned en route to the Capitol that Pence “sold us out.” out” and that emotions ran through the crowd. He suggested it was no surprise the crowd didn’t listen when police told them they couldn’t enter an area because it was protected for President Joe Biden’s inauguration.

Earlier Monday, Griffin’s attorney had objected to the government being allowed to use another cache of videos that prosecutors had obtained from Struck and given to the defense just days before the trial. On the stand, Struck said the government asked him for videos showing the period after Trump spoke when he and Griffin left the Capitol, so that’s what he handed over; the week before the trial, he said they asked if they had more footage, and that’s when he produced more videos.

McFadden let the government use two videos that fell within the timeframe he requested, but not others, saying it sounded a bit like “sandbags” for the defense. He said he didn’t think the government acted inappropriately, but that he made an “unduly limited” request of Struck at the start and that he might have known about the other videos if he had shown proof. of “due diligence”.

The government also presented testimony from United States Capitol Police Inspector John Erickson, a 32-year veteran of the force who was in charge of the inaugural task force at the time of the attack. Erickson explained the security perimeter of the grounds, how the Capitol’s surveillance camera network works and also talked about his experience arriving at the Capitol around 1:30 p.m. after learning that people were climbing the inauguration scaffolding and the walls. . He spent the next few hours trying to help other officers chase the rioters from the building.

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