The Justice Department on Thursday charged a US Capitol rioter with bringing a handgun onto Capitol grounds – two days after a hearing where Republican lawmakers downplayed the deadly attack and claimed the pro-Trump rioters were unarmed.
The new charge was filed against Guy Reffitt, a Texan whose case received national attention after his own family members told the FBI that he threatened to kill them if they turned him in.
Prosecutors said in the new indictment that Reffitt carried a “deadly and dangerous weapon,” specifically a “semi-automatic handgun,” while he was unlawfully on Capitol grounds. He isn’t accused of entering the building itself. But it’s still against the law to breach the perimeter of the Capitol complex and storm past fences and barricades, which Reffitt was photographed doing.
This undermines Republican efforts to whitewash the January 6 insurrection. GOP lawmakers have pushed false-flag theories that the FBI, antifa or Black Lives Matter were behind the attack. They also claimed the mob was “unarmed,” even though rioters are accused of bringing guns and knives to the Capitol and using bear spray, flagpoles and baseball bats to attack police.
Reffitt is charged with five crimes, including felony obstruction of Congress. He hasn’t entered a plea to the new indictment, but he previously pleaded not guilty to some of the same charges.
According to court documents from earlier in the case, Reffitt allegedly told his son and other family members that he “brought his gun with him” when he was storming the Capitol area.
The new indictment was filed days after a House oversight hearing about the attack where several Republicans used their time to push false narratives and even defend the rioters. Several GOP lawmakers specifically claimed that the rioters at the Capitol were “unarmed.”
“Defendants and the propagandists claim that this was an armed insurrection. But no guns were found, according to assistant director of FBI. Another lie debunked,” Republican Rep. Andy Biggs said.
Republicans also pressed FBI Director Chris Wray about the firearms issue at the hearing.
“There has been at least one instance of someone arrested with a firearm in the Capitol,” Wray said, likely referring to a separate case of a rioter found with a handgun, “and there have been a number of arrests of individuals either en route to the Capitol or near the Capitol for the siege.
CNN’s Hannah Rabinowitz contributed to this story.