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Gay Insurrectionist Brandon Straka's Plea May Be In Jeopardy

Brandon Straka's mugshot next to a still from him at the January 6, 2021 insurrection at the Capitol.
Photo Credit: Department of Justice

The self-styled social media influencer admitted to his participation in the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection and cooperated with federal authorities to inform on others.

A federal judge is not having the post-sentence behavior of a gay insurrectionist who pled guilty to participating in the January 6 Capitol attack.

U.S. District Court Judge Dabney Friedrich questioned Brandon Straka's public comments at a hearing last week, calling them "inconsistent" with what he had stated in court previously, NPR reports.

"He's losing more and more credibility by the moment," Friedrich said of Straka at the court's hearing via teleconference.

Judge Friedrich said that Straka was putting himself at risk of prosecution over potential lies to investigators.

"What he needs to appreciate is he is potentially incriminating himself for [18 U.S. Code Section] 1001 prosecution," Friedrich explained. That reference is to the law against providing "materially false" statements to the government, NPR notes.

Friedrich is a Trump-nominated federal judge. He became agitated discussing Straka's comments.

"To the extent, he's making claims that are inconsistent with what he said to federal agents, he needs to understand that this definitely is not in his best interest," Friedrich said to the right-wing influencer's attorney Bilal Essayli.

When the riot broke out on January 6, Straka filmed on his smartphone while moving with the crowd to the Capitol steps. In the statement of offense Straka signed and agreed to as part of his plea, he yelled, "go, go, go" as mob members attempted to enter the building and "take it" when rioters grabbed a police officer's shield.

A short time later, Straka left the Capitol building without entering.

Amid the violence, Straka tweeted, "Patriots at the Capitol - HOLD. THE. LINE!!!!" He later admitted that he wasn't fully aware of the extent of the violence at that point.

Straka apologized at his sentencing hearing for being present at an event that sent members of Congress fleeing the building. He was "deeply sorry and shameful for being present," he said. "I want to apologize to all members of the Capitol Police whose safety was put in danger by the unruly mob, in particular the police officer whose shield can be seen in my video being grabbed by members of the crowd."

According to Judge Friedrich, Straka has made "questionable comments regarding the truth of his plea" on social media and in conservative media since then.

Despite signing a "statement of offense," Straka seems to be questioning the part in which he confesses to saying, "take it, take it," when rioters grabbed the shield of a police officer.

Straka told Tucker Carlson on Fox News, "I vehemently denied that was my voice to my attorney. I was [shocked] when I was accused of that."

At this point, Straka's case has largely been resolved. He did not attend Wednesday's hearing and was represented by his lawyer.

Straka pleaded guilty to disorderly and disruptive conduct in the Capitol Building or Grounds in September 2021, avoiding jail time and being sentenced to 90 days of house arrest instead.

During last Wednesday's hearing, which was held to discuss the accidental release of Straka's sealed cooperation agreement to the media, Judge Friedrich stated that Straka's public comments contradicted every comment he told her during sentencing -- "every single one of them."

"I'm wondering: should I be anticipating a motion to withdraw his plea?" Friedrich asked Straka's attorney, according to NPR. "Because I want you to know I would gladly hold an evidentiary hearing to address his claims. Is that something that I should be expecting?"

Straka's lawyer said no, and added that Straka "faces a lot of reporting," which he believes is false so "it is difficult for him not to respond or be emotional."

"I suggest that you tell him to exercise some discretion that he didn't show before Jan. 6, during Jan. 6, and apparently after Jan. 6," Friedrich said. "And also inform him that I will be asking probation for periodic status reports about his performance on supervision."

In Dallas during the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) this weekend, a bizarre display caused discussion online. In a time during which Americans live in two realities - one in which an armed mob engaged in an insurrection and another in which the same mob of armed rioters is the victims of law enforcement overreach - attendees seemingly took what people online mocked seriously.

Sitting in an orange jumpsuit, adorned in a red Make America Great Again hat, a man who appears to look like Straka sat quietly crying in a makeshift jail cell, while people wearing headsets listened to the testimony of January 6 insurrectionists who are made out to seem like political prisoners.

It was run by Straka's #WalkAway campaign, a spokesperson for CPAC told BuzzFeed News, which could not independently verify if the man in the cell was Straka.

Journalist Laura Jedeed tweeted images of the booth and wrote that it was like being at a "silent disco" but "instead of dancing, you stand around and watch this guy cry."

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