Aug 2, 2022
January 6 rioter sentenced to more than 7 years in prison Transcript
Texas man who was found guilty of bringing a gun to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot and other charges has been sentenced to more than seven years in prison. Read the transcript here.
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A Texas man who was found guilty for his role in the Capitol insurrection has been sentenced to more than seven years in prison. Guy Reffitt was hit with several charges, including with bringing a gun to Capitol grounds, obstructing the work of Congress, and civil disorder.
Reffitt was the first January 6th defendant to stand trial. His sentence so far is the longest handed down in a case related to the riot. CBS News congressional correspondent Scott MacFarlane joins me now with more. Scott, I know you’ve been following all of this all along. Tell us, is this the kind of sentence that prosecutors were hoping for?
Scott MacFarlane: (00:33)
A mixed result for prosecutors, that much is clear. They were seeking a 15-year prison sentence for guy Reffitt, the first defendant to go on trial and be convicted for January 6th, a defendant who was carrying a gun, a megaphone, and wearing tactical gear on the front lines confronting police. They got a seven-year, three-month sentence, roughly half of what they were seeking.
Scott MacFarlane: (00:56)
There’s a reason for that that we heard during proceedings today. Prosecutors were seeking an enhancement in Reffitt’s sentence for domestic terror. The judge didn’t agree prosecutors made that case, but nevertheless sentenced Reffitt to the longest sentence so far issued in a January 6th case, those seven years and three months.
Scott MacFarlane: (01:14)
None of that was a true surprise. What was surprising, Lana, is what happened after the hearing. During the proceedings today, Reffitt’s daughter asked for leniency on behalf of her father, saying the person whose names was on the flag in the mob, January 6th, was the real leader, not her father, alluding to former President Trump.
Scott MacFarlane: (01:34)
She walked out of court before the cameras and said Donald Trump should serve life in prison if her father is to serve seven years. By far the strongest, most demonstrative criticism of former President Trump by any family member of any January 6th defendant in the many dozens of hearings we’ve watched.
Really strong words. We heard her outside on the courthouse steps. Reffitt himself didn’t provide a statement before he was sentenced, nor did he testify at the trial. Can you tell us anything more about the defense? Do we know if they agreed with the daughter, that they felt like President Trump was really the one to blame?
Scott MacFarlane: (02:12)
Yes, Guy Reffitt didn’t talk at his trial. He didn’t testify. Didn’t present the defense, just a closing argument from his attorney. Then at sentencing, unlike so many other January 6th defendants, he declined to give a statement to the judge, to ask for leniency, until he changed his mind and gave a brief sentence or statement just before the sentence was handed down.
Scott MacFarlane: (02:31)
He referred to himself as an expletive idiot. He says he is disavowing the militia group, which he’s been aligned with, according to the prosecutors. But he didn’t criticize former President Trump. Didn’t mention former President Trump by name.
Scott MacFarlane: (02:46)
Again, as somebody who has sat through all of these sentencing hearings, that’s not uncommon. It is rare to hear a January 6th defendant name former President Trump and criticize him. That’s why his daughter’s statement was so significant and so striking after the hearing.
Scott MacFarlane: (03:03)
It begs the question, Lana, is it going to set a pattern? Will we hear other defendants call out the former president, other family members of other defendants call out the former president in future hearings?
Yeah. Well, what message are prosecutors hoping that this sentence will send to other January 6th defendants, Scott?
Scott MacFarlane: (03:24)
It’s possible this is a canary in the coal mine case, because it was the first defendant convicted at trial to face sentencing. Maybe there was a marker that was going to be laid down for future defendants, and perhaps there was. The judge gave this defendant half what the prosecutors were seeking, but still the longest sentence so far.
Scott MacFarlane: (03:41)
But here’s the thing, and there’s no way of getting around this. We reviewed these 850-plus federal January 6 cases. It’s hard to find two cases that are exactly alike. This one was different. Reffitt had a gun. He was on the front lines. He confronted police with tactical gear. But he didn’t go inside, didn’t assault police.
Scott MacFarlane: (04:00)
There are eccentricities and subtle differences in so many of these cases, it’s hard to find an apples to apples comparison. So maybe it’s difficult to lay down a marker or be a canary in the coal mine moving forward. But we know this for sure, Lana. There are several hundred more defendants who’ve yet to face trial, yet to face sentencing. We’re told by the Department of Justice, there are hundreds more arrests still likely.
Well, before I let you go, Scott, there was a lot of anger and frustration from veterans and advocates last week after a bill that would expand healthcare to those exposed to toxins and burn pits failed in the Senate. Senator Pat Toomey, one of several Republicans who voted against the legislation, explained his decision on Sunday’s Face the Nation.
Pat Toomey: (04:42)
Now the Republican votes didn’t change on the substance of the bill. Republicans have said we want an amendment to change a provision that has nothing to do with veterans healthcare. The Republicans support this. The Democrats added a provision that has nothing to do with veterans healthcare and that it’s designed to change government accounting rules so that they can have a $400 billion spending spree. My amendment, if I’m allowed to offer it, will take out that provision and will not reduce veteran spending by a dime.
So tell us, where does the legislation go from here?
Scott MacFarlane: (05:17)
It’s possible there are votes this week. This is a procedural dispute in the Senate. Procedure is quite important. That’s what they do in the Senate. They argue over and try to fix procedures.
Scott MacFarlane: (05:27)
But the political reality is clear. I was with the protestors outside the Capitol today, talking to them, even they’re optimistic there’ll be a vote this week. It’s likely to pass. It is politically untenable for senators to stand between veterans who may be suffering cancer, bronchitis, sleep apnea, breathing problems because of toxins, and the benefits they need.
Scott MacFarlane: (05:48)
The Congress has set up, has queued up this bill to loosen the restrictions, to make it easier for veterans to get these benefits. No senator wants to be caught standing between veterans and these benefits. This will get ironed out likely sooner than later.
Absolutely. All right, Scott. Thank you.