Just three days after a federal judge warned Brandon Straka’s attorney that his client faced the possibility of being prosecuted for lying to federal officers and during a federal proceeding if he kept making statements about his actions at the Capitol building on January 6, 2021 that conflict with statements he made in federal court and to federal law enforcement, Straka minimized his conduct during that rioting when speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).
“I was present on January 6 as I think most people know,” Straka said during an August 6 panel at CPAC, which was held in Dallas. “I stood on the east side steps for eight minutes.”
In the Statement of Offense that Straka signed as part of his plea deal last year, the founder of the #WalkAway Campaign and a pro-Trump influencer agreed that he knew the public was not allowed on the Capitol grounds when he entered the grounds and walked to within yards of an entrance to the Capitol building. He also agreed that his intent was to “impede, disrupt, or disturb the orderly conduct of a session of Congress.”
As he stood near the door, he said “Go, go” and he agreed in the statement that he was encouraging “others to enter the US Capitol while the US Capitol Police were making their best efforts to prevent people from doing so.” Straka also agreed that he chanted “Take it, take it” as some rioters were fighting a police officer and trying to take a plastic shield from the officer.
Straka pleaded guilty to one count of misdemeanor disorderly conduct. In January of this year, he was sentenced to three months of monitored home detention and three years on probation. He had to pay a $5,000 fine and $500 in restitution for damage to the Capitol building. With his detention ended, Straka is now singing the right wing tune that the January 6 rioters, including himself, are being mistreated and forced into accepting guilty pleas.
There is no evidence that Straka entered the building or engaged in violence. His sentence was consistent with sentences given to other January 6 defendants who committed the same crimes. To date, other defendants who entered the building and committed more serious crimes have been sentenced to multiple years in federal prison.
While Straka has consistently minimized his actions on January 6, he is walking back what he agreed to in his plea. Straka now says he said “Go, go” to a young woman who walked past him as she was exiting the building. He repeated “Take it, take it” only to memorialize what the mob was saying for the eight-minute video he made during his time at the Capitol building. He says the doors to the building were open and police were just standing near the doors. He says he was unaware of any violence occurring around the building.
In an email asking him to explain his conduct, Straka issued a 227-word statement that he insisted be published in its entirety or not at all. Gay City News never agreed to that. No part of the statement was responsive to the original question. Instead, Straka accused Gay City News of suppressing free speech, criminalizing “art and conversation,” and advancing “the cause of giving pedophiles easier access to children.” Straka said he would continue running the #WalkAway Campaign, which encourages Democrats to join the Republican Party, and “establishing a community of thinking class gays, lesbians, bisexual, and transgender people who want to be acknowledged for our intelligence, our patriotism, and our productive contributions to society.”
In a follow up email, Gay City News cited the four facts he agreed to in the Statement of Offense and asked if he was telling the truth when he signed that document or if his new explanations are the truth. In May, Straka told Lou Dobbs, the former Fox News host, that taking a plea deal allows the government “to write the story from A to Z…It’s fiction and they get the right to write this fiction.” Asked if the facts in the Statement of Offense and the statement itself are fiction, Straka wrote “You have my statement.”
On August 3, Judge Dabney Friedrich, who oversaw Straka’s criminal case, warned Straka’s attorney that his client was risking prosecution.
“It’s also been brought to my attention that Mr. Straka has been making statements regarding his plea,” Friedrich told Bilal Essayli, a partner at Essayli & Brown in Irvine, California. “He’s potentially incriminating himself for a 1001 prosecution…Please inform him that these are not wise choices he is making.”
The ”1001 prosecution” refers to a section of federal law that makes it a crime to lie to federal officers or during a federal proceeding.
He complained about his case during the CPAC panel, which was titled “You’re Next: The Rise of the Democrat Gulag” (Video here at 5:31:42.), and told the audience that his case “hasn’t ended, it’s actually in the last couple of weeks they are coming after me again on new things related to my case which I thought was over.” He minimized his actions, but did not explicitly contradict facts he admitted to in his plea deal. He complained about the lack of support from the right.
“What’s been most horrifying of all has not been the behavior of the left, it’s been the silence of the right, Straka said. “For me to go through what I went through and not have a single person stand up and say ‘We’ve got your back and this is wrong’ is disgraceful.”
Over 150 police officers were injured during the January 6 rioting. One officer died from a stroke during the rioting. One rioter was shot and killed by police inside the Capitol building. Another two rioters died from natural causes and third died from a drug overdose. Four officers died by suicide following the rioting.
Straka received loud applause and cheers when he attacked another panelist, Representative Andy Biggs, a far right Republican from Arizona, for not doing enough for the January 6 defendants.
“The left is doing what the left does,” Straka said. “They’re being evil, they’re being duplicitous, they’re being horrible, but where the hell is our team? Where are our people?”
Biggs, who belongs to the right wing House Freedom Caucus, promised that if Republicans win the House in the midterm elections, they will cut the budgets of the FBI and the US Department of Justice and might impeach federal judges who handled the January 6 cases.
“There are probably a dozen of us who have attempted to get into jail who have attempted to raise this and elevate this to where I think it needs to be,” Biggs said. “We didn’t get the support of a majority of Republicans, but we continue to push.”
Straka also demanded that he be allowed to testify if the House Republicans hold a hearing on the January 6 cases.