GOP Rep. Dan Crenshaw fined $5,000 for skipping Capitol metal detectors installed after January 6

Rep. Dan Crenshaw, a Republican of Texas, stands outside the US Capitol
Rep. Dan Crenshaw, a Republican of Texas

  • Texas Rep. Dan Crenshaw was fined $5,000 for failing to use the metal detectors outside the House floor.
  • The increased safety screenings at the Capitol were added after the January 6 riot.
  • Crenshaw previously said the metal detectors were an example of “virtue-signaling” by Democrats.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Texas GOP Rep. Dan Crenshaw is facing a $5,000 fine because he evaded the metal detectors outside the US House chamber that were installed after the January 6 riot at the Capitol.

The fine was announced by the House Committee on Ethics in a press release Thursday. According to the statement, the committee was notified by the Office of the Sergeant at Arms on September 27 that Crenshaw was fined for skipping the metal detectors.

Crenshaw can appeal the fine to the committee within 30 days, according to the statement. Crenshaw’s office did not immediately return Insider’s request for comment on Saturday.

The metal detectors were installed at the Capitol after a mob of supporters of former President Donald Trump overpowered law enforcement and stormed the Capitol on January 6 while lawmakers were meeting inside to discuss and certify the results of the 2020 presidential election.

Under the rules enacted earlier this year in House Resolution 73, members of Congress who evade the security precautions are subject to fines of $5,000 for their first offense and $10,000 for each subsequent offense. At the time of their installation, several lawmakers were seen avoiding or attempting to avoid the metal detectors, according to a report from HuffPost earlier this year.

“It is tragic that this step is necessary, but the Chamber of the People’s House must and will be safe,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said announcing the fines in February.

At the time, Crenshaw criticized the installation of the metal detectors and the fines.

“When you’re a liberal there’s a propensity for action, even if that action is not effective,” Crenshaw said about the detectors and the subsequent fines, according to Fox News. “There’s a propensity for virtue-signaling even when that signaling is not effective.”

According to Fox News, Crenshaw was one of the GOP representatives who criticized Pelosi for evading the metal detectors in February without paying the fine.

According to The Hill, Crenshaw becomes the seventh member of Congress to face fines over skipping the metal detectors. So far, the House Ethics Committee has upheld three fines after lawmakers appealed them, including fines imposed on Reps. Louie Gohmert of Texas, Andrew Clyde of Georgia, and Lloyd Smucker of Pennsylvania.

The committee dismissed fines imposed on House Majority Whip James Clyburn of South Carolina and Reps. Hal Rogers of Kentucky and Virginia Foxx of North Carolina, per The Hill.

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Pentagon makes 100 National Guard troops available to respond to pro-Capitol rioters rally in DC

national guard capitol
Members of Virginia National Guard walk by the U.S. Capitol on January 17, 2021.

  • The Pentagon has made 100 National Guard troops available ahead of a rally in DC.
  • The “Justice for J6” rally is planned for Saturday and is being held in support of arrested Capitol rioters.
  • In addition to the Guard troops, a number of additional security measures, including a security fence, have been put in place.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The Department of Defense is making National Guard troops available to support law enforcement ahead of a rally in support of individuals facing prosecution for their roles in the Jan. 6 riots at the US Capitol.

“Secretary of Defense [Lloyd] Austin approved a request from the Capitol Hill Police Board to provide 100 members of the Washington DC National Guard who will be stationed at the D.C. Armory as a Physical Security Task Force to augment law enforcement for the September 18th demonstration on Capitol Hill,” the Pentagon said in a statement Friday.

The Department of Defense said that Capitol Hill will rely primarily on local, state, and federal law enforcement options before requesting support from the National Guard task force, which can be deployed upon request to protect the US Capitol. The Guard forces will be unarmed, except for batons, according to The Washington Post.

The moves are part of a number of security measures being taken ahead of the “Justice for J6” rally, which is being organized by “Look Ahead America.” The organization, according to its website, “is an America First nonprofit dedicated to standing up for patriotic Americans who have been forgotten by our government.”

“Look Ahead America” views people who were arrested and charged for their involvement in the Jan. 6 Capitol riots as political prisoners.

Former President Donald Trump has thrown his support to people who are facing charges, saying recently that “our hearts and minds are with the people being persecuted so unfairly relating to the January 6th protest.”

Trump was impeached for the second time in four years for his role in instigating the Jan. 6 riots. Amid the chaos of the day, he did eventually issue a statement encouraging his supporters to go home. In that message, he told the protesters “We love you” and that “you’re very special.”

Several people died during the riot, and over a dozen police officers were hospitalized from injuries confronting the crowd, some of whom carried weapons like baseball bats or stole batons and riot shields from officers. In gripping testimony, one Capitol police officer recalled being beaten unconscious, and another officer, who was an Army veteran, was assaulted with a flag pole.

In preparation for Saturday’s rally, a number of congressional offices have been closed, and protective fencing has been put up.

A federal law enforcement source with knowledge of the planning told CBS News that the intelligence suggests there will not be widespread violence, as there was eight months ago. “I wouldn’t say really informed people are worried,” the source said. “But they are taking no chances.”

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A pro-Trump group organizing a DC rally for Jan. 6 defendants lost its tax-exempt status – but is still claiming donations are tax-deductible

Matt Brynard helping to move a statue of Donald Trump.
Matt Braynard (L) helps artist Tommy Zegan (R) move his statue of former President Donald Trump to a van during the Conservative Political Action Conference on February 27, 2021 in Orlando, Florida.

  • Matt Braynard worked as a data analyst on the 2016 Trump campaign.
  • His group, Look Ahead America, was founded in 2017 as a nonprofit.
  • But the IRS revoked the group’s tax-exempt status after it repeatedly failed to disclose spending.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A group founded by a former Trump campaign staffer that is organizing a rally this month on behalf of January 6 defendants is soliciting “tax-deductible” contributions despite losing its tax-exempt status last year.

According to its website, Look Ahead America is a “non-profit organization” founded by Matt Braynard, a former data analyst on the 2016 Trump campaign. Although ostensibly “non-partisan,” it has clear and avowed sympathies: On September 18, it is organizing what it calls a “#JusticeForJ6” rally at the US Capitol, conflating those arrested for taking part in the pro-Trump January 6 riot with “political prisoners.”

At least 638 people have been arrested and charged with crimes related to the January 6 insurrection, when rioters sought to prevent the congressional certification of President Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 election. But while claims of mass voter fraud have been readily debunked, Braynard, like others, has raised a substantial sum of money to prove that it existed.

Donation link.
Look Ahead America falsely tells potential supporters that their donations are “tax-deductible.”

In the weeks after the election, Braynard raised more than $675,000 on a Christian fundraising platform to pursue amateur audits of the November vote. That campaign left him with what he described as a “surplus” of $84,000, which would go toward a “relaunch of Look Ahead America.” None of the money would benefit Braynard personally, he insisted. “That should be clear on the public 990 we file at the end of this year,” he wrote in a January update, referring to the mandatory spending disclosures that nonprofits are supposed to file with the IRS.

A month later, the group had already raised another $75,000, Axios reported, with part of the money going to a new treasurer who was said to be resolving its issues with the IRS.

On its homepage, Look Ahead America – now boasting of a dozen-strong leadership team – is asking for more money, saying it is needed to help “organize and guide patriotic citizens in lobbying their state legislatures and local governments on America First initiatives.”

Despite no longer enjoying tax-exempt status, however, potential supporters are promised that their donations will constitute a “tax-deductible contribution.”

Visitors can also purchase copies of “Otoya: A Literary Journal of the New Nationalism,” edited by Braynard. The magazine’s cover features an image of Otoya Yamaguchi, a member of the Japanese far-right who assassinated the head of his country’s Socialist Party in 1960 – and who is today an inspiration for extremists here in the United States, according to the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights.

‘The answer to that is no’

Despite promising one, Bryanard’s group has never actually filed a 990 form, that would, among other things, reveal just how much he and others are paid. After three years of failing to disclose such spending, the IRS automatically revokes a nonprofit’s tax-exempt status; for Look Ahead America, that happened in May 2020.

Braynard told BuzzFeed he’s working on it. He reapplied for exempt status in January 2021, he said in August and was still waiting to hear back.

On Twitter, however, he suggested that already should have happened. And the former Trump staffer event insisted that his group can continue to operate as a nonprofit – and receive tax-free contributions – despite losing its tax-exempt status. “Per IRS rules, we are allowed to operate as a [501(c)(3)] while our reinstatement status is pending. We expect it to be resolved this month,” he wrote in July.

Is that true, though?

“The answer to that is no,” Rick Cohen, chief operating officer at the National Council of Nonprofits, told Insider. “From the time their status as a 501(c)(3) is revoked until such time that it is reinstated, donations are not deductible.”

As of August 9, Look Ahead America has still not been reinstated, per the most recent IRS list of active tax-exempt organizations in Washington, DC. And until it is, the IRS too says it should not be acting like it has been.

According to the agency, there is no exception: “a section 501(c)(3) that loses its tax-exempt status can’t receive tax-deductible contributions.”

Neither Braynard nor Look Ahead America responded to requests for comment.

Have a news tip? Email this reporter: cdavis@insider.com

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US Capitol riot: Police officers to testify at first meeting of the January 6 select committee

Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as they try to storm the US Capitol in Washington, DC on January 6, 2021.
Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as they try to storm the US Capitol in Washington, DC on January 6, 2021.

  • The US House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack holds its first hearing July 27.
  • The committee was created after Republicans defeated an effort to create an independent commission.
  • It has 13 members, but only eight have been named thus far. Rep. Liz Cheney is the lone Republican.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Police officers who were attacked by a pro-Trump mob at the US Capitol will testify before Congress next week at the first meeting of a select committee created to investigate the attack.

Rep. Bennie Thompson, a Democrat from Mississippi who chairs the panel, announced Monday that the officers would testify July 27 regarding, “The Law Enforcement Experience on January 6th.”

Among those testify is Michael Fanone, an officer with the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, DC.

Fanone, according to prosecutors, was shot with a stun gun, dragged down steps at the US Capitol, and beaten with a flagpole. He suffered a heart attack during the attack, which he said has left him with post-traumatic stress disorder.

At least 140 police officers were injured during the riot. At least two died during or following the attack: one from a stroke suffered after being hit with bear spray, which a medical examiner said may have been a contributing factor, and another from suicide.

Earlier this month, federal agents arrested a Pennsylvania man after a video appeared to show him charging at police with a stun gun and assaulting a photographer who captured the footage.

In June, the House passed legislation creating a select committee to investigate the January 6 attack after Republicans defeated a Democratic proposal for an independent commission.

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A Texas family of 5 was charged in breaching the Capitol after one member posted on social media: ‘Holy s— we were inside the f—ing capital’

Capitol riot
  • A family of five from Texas was charged in connection with the January 6 riot.
  • The Munn family was placed at the Capitol using CCTV footage inside the building and their social media posts and conversations, according to court documents.
  • According to court documents, one of them wrote on Facebook: “Holy s— we were inside the f—ing capital!”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A family of five from Texas was charged in connection with the January 6 riot after prosecutors used CCTV footage and found social media placing them at the Capitol, including one post that said, “Holy s— we were inside the f—ing capital [sic].”

The FBI received a tip that Kristi Munn entered the building on January 6 and reported to the FBI that Kristi and other members of her family traveled from Texas to Washington, DC, evidenced by Kristi Munn’s Facebook account and six screenshots of Kristi Munn’s Snapchat account, according to the affidavit.

In late January, David Lee Bolyard, the FBI agent who filed the affidavit, said he reached out to interview Kristi Munn, who claimed to be present in DC to exercise her First Amendment right to protest the certification of then-President-elect Joe Biden’s win in the 2020 election but claimed she did not enter the Capitol.

But security footage captured the Munn family crawling through a window and walking the halls of the building, the affidavit says.

The affidavit also included social media posts where members of the Munn family also admitted to being inside the Capitol. On January 6, Dawn Munn wrote in a Facebook conversation, “We went in and stormed capital [sic] !” and “We were in capital [sic]!! … I do mean IN the building!!” In a separate conversation the same day, Dawn Munn also indicated the family crawled through a window to enter the building.

“They barricaded the door so they took out window…climbed in!!!” she wrote.

Screenshot from Tom Munn’s Facebook
Screenshot from Tom Munn’s Facebook.

Another family member who was charged, Josh Munn, also discussed how the family entered the building in a Facebook conversation.

“Damn how did y’all get in the capital [sic] building,” a person solely identified as Joel said to Josh Munn.

Munn replied, “The first group opened up a window sort of say [sic] and we followed it through.”

The person responded by saying, “Oh so u broke in?” to which Josh Munn said, “No we did not brake [sic] In the window was opne [sic] when i got there.”

Kayli Munn, who was also charged, wrote on Facebook: “F—ing great! Holy s— we were inside the
f—ing capital [sic]!”

Kristi Munn, Thomas “Tom” Munn, Dawn Munn, Joshua “Josh” Munn, and Kayli Munn, of Borger, Texas, were charged with illegally entering a restricted government building and disrupting a session of Congress, according to an affidavit filed Monday.

None of the family members have not yet entered pleas in the case as of Tuesday afternoon, and attorney information for the family was not immediately available.

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An ex-GOP staffer pleaded guilty to child pornography charges and now faces up to 15 years in prison

Capitol
The US Capitol is shown through security fencing on March 21, 2021.

  • An ex-GOP staffer pleaded guilty to a child pornography charge and faces 12 to 15 years in prison.
  • An investigation found Ruben Verastigui took part in a chat featuring sexual depictions of children.
  • “Verastigui’s release would put the public and children everywhere at-risk,” prosecutors said.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A former GOP staffer and Republican National Committee aide pleaded guilty to a child pornography charge after he admitted to possessing 50 photos and 152 videos of child pornography.

Ruben Verastigui, 27, entered a guilty plea during a video conference hearing and could face 12 to 15 years in prison under a plea deal with prosecutors.

Verastigui was involved in a ring of at least 18 other people who were trading child pornography via a chat group on an unnamed website, in which he was accused of trading sexual depictions of children and discussing killing children.

The DC Metropolitan Police arrested Verastigui in February, after an investigation. He was accused of having “distributed, received, and possessed images of child pornography” between March 2020 and February 2021, according to a press release from the MPD.

The Daily Beast reported Verastigui had worked for the Senate Republican Conference as a digital strategist until July 2020, according to his now-deleted LinkedIn profile, and he also designed social media ads for Donald Trump’s reelection campaign.

Congressional payroll records also showed Verastigui worked as a digital director for the Joint Economic Committee in 2018, Politico reported.

Following his arrest, federal prosecutors wrote in a detention memo in February that Verastigui sought out images of rape of children and discussed “in great detail” how he enjoyed seeing children abused and killed, citing a report from The Daily Beast. Chat logs included messages between Verastigui and another group chat member talking about traveling somewhere with police officers so they could kill a child, according to the memo.

“Verastigui’s release would put the public and children everywhere at-risk,” prosecutors wrote in the February memo.

A judge is set to rule on Verastigui’s sentence on October 12.

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6 months after Capitol insurrection, the suspect who planted pipe bombs near the DNC and RNC headquarters has not been arrested

The suspect who planted the pipe bombs was captured in surveillance video.
The suspect who planted the pipe bombs was captured in surveillance video.

  • The suspect who planted two pipe bombs near the RNC and DNC headquarters has not yet been arrested by authorities.
  • The FBI is offering a $100,000 for tips or information on the suspect.
  • Nearly 550 suspected rioters have been arrested in connection with the Capitol insurrection on January 6.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The suspect who planted two pipe bombs in Washington, DC, ahead of January 6 has yet to be arrested, six months after the Capitol insurrection.

A mob of pro-Trump supporters breached the Capitol six months ago on January 6, the same day Congress was set to certify then-President-elect Joe Biden’s win in the 2020 election. More than 500 suspected rioters are facing charges in connection with the riot.

The Associated Press reported in January that the pipe bombs were placed the night before rioters descended upon the Capitol – one behind the headquarters of the Republican National Committee and the other next to a park bench near the Democratic National Committee headquarters.

Police discovered the pipe bombs – filled with black explosive powder and fitted with egg timers – around 1 p.m. local time on January 6, shortly after rioters confronted Capitol Police officers. Surveillance footage captured the suspect wearing a grey hooded sweater and carrying a backpack while placing the pipe bombs between 7:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. local time on January 5.

“The unknown individual wore a face mask, a grey hooded sweatshirt, and black and light grey Nike Air
Max Speed Turf shoes with a yellow logo,” according to a press release from the FBI.

The FBI is offering a $100,000 reward for tips and information on identifying the suspect.

DC Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Contee said during a House Oversight Committee hearing in May that “that investigation continues on.”

During the same hearing, Capitol Police Inspector General Michael Bolton told lawmakers that the pipe bombs could have been planted as a “diversion,” after three teams were dispatched to investigate the incident, leaving one team to guard the Capitol on January 6.

“If those pipe bombs were intended to be a diversion, it worked,” Bolton said during his testimony.

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At least 49 people charged in the Capitol insurrection are accused of trying to delete images, videos, or texts from their phones and social media accounts, according to a report

Capitol riot
Pro-Trump supporters storming the US Capitol on January 6.

  • Authorities claim some people who took part in the Capitol riots later wiped evidence, the Associated Press reports.
  • The people deleted texts or social media posts that showed they’d participated in the insurrection, authorities said in court documents viewed by AP.
  • They are among the 545 people arrested in connection with the Capitol siege on January 6.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

At least 49 people charged in connection with the US Capitol riots in January are also accused of trying to delete evidence from their phones and social media accounts, according to a review of court records by the Associated Press, published Saturday.

The court documents cited by AP show that the defendants are accused of trying to erase images, videos, and texts that document their involvement in the deadly siege on the US Capitol on January 6. It took several hours for authorities to regain control after supporters of then-President Donald Trump swarmed the building, and at least four people died.

One defendant sent texts about being inside the Capitol during the riots, authorities said in the court documents cited by AP. In a text sent two days after the insurrection, an associate of the defendant told him to delete all content from his social media accounts and buy a new phone, authorities said in the court documents seen by AP. The defendant then shut down his Facebook account, where he had uploaded photos and written posts about the attack, authorities said in the documents, according to AP.

The people accused of deleting incriminating content from their phones or social media accounts are part of a wider pool of 545 people who have been arrested in connection with the Capitol siege.

Another defendant, who authorities say posted videos and comments on social media showing they were inside the Capitol during the riots, chose to not restore their new phone with iCloud content from their old device, potentially to hide evidence, authorities said in court documents seen by AP.

Authorities can ask social media companies to preserve posts and content until they get legal authority to view them, Adam Scott Wandt, a public policy professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, told AP.

Meanwhile, Joel Hirschhorn, a criminal defense lawyer in Miami, told AP that metadata – hidden information within media files – will show whether social media material was modified or deleted.

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Problem Solvers Caucus, a key bipartisan group, backs congressional inquiry into January 6 US Capitol riot, as members of the GOP defect from McCarthy’s stance

AP20356824544211
Problem Solvers Caucus co-chairs Rep. Tom Reed, R-N.Y., at podium, and Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., right, speak to the media with members of their caucus about the expected passage of the emergency COVID-19 relief bill, Monday, Dec. 21, 2020, on Capitol Hill in Washington.

A key bipartisan group of lawmakers has come out in support of a congressional commission to investigate the January 6 riot at the US Capitol.

The Problem Solvers Caucus, which includes 58 members from both parties, announced its endorsement in a statement on Tuesday.

More than 75% of the lawmakers supported the decision, the group said, stating that an investigation could lead produce recommendations “to ensure an attack like January 6th can never take place again.”

Read more: Neera Tanden is now one of at least 61 Center for American Progress alumni working for the Biden administration

The development comes just hours after House Republican leader, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, came out against the proposed commission, which would empower a bipartisan panel of lawmakers to investigate the lead-up and response to the events of January 6.

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Facebook failed to prevent far-right groups from planning the US Capitol siege, according to an internal report

US Capitol
US Capitol riots.

  • Facebook failed to stop far-right groups from planning to storm the Capitol, an internal report said.
  • It showed that insurrection plans continued even after the “Stop the Steal” group was banned.
  • “Hindsight is 20/20, at the time,” the report said, adding the company will “do better next time.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Facebook failed to prevent far-right groups from planning the US Capitol riots on its platform, according to an internal report.

In January, pro-Donald Trump extremists broke into the House and Senate chambers to disrupt the confirmation of Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election. The riots led to five deaths and dozens of arrests.

An internal report seen by BuzzFeed News showed that numerous groups who gathered on Facebook continued to plan the insurrection even after the far-right “Stop the Steal” group was banned.

Stop the Steal became the most popular Facebook group, accumulating more than 365,000 members in less than two days before the social media site removed it for making “worrying calls for violence.”

The report, which was shared with Facebook employees in March, said Facebook users in the Stop the Steal group and other pro-Trump groups contributed to the attack on the Capitol.

According to the report, Facebook’s attempt to dig out fake accounts and “inauthentic behavior” hindered the company from taking action against real people on the platform who were directly involved in the planning of the riots.

“Hindsight is 20/20, at the time,” the report said, per Buzzfeed. “It was very difficult to know whether what we were seeing was a coordinated effort to delegitimize the election, or whether it was free expression by users who were afraid and confused and deserved our empathy.”

Read more: Security experts slam Facebook for downplaying a massive data leak as old news

Facebook was only able to take down groups and pages when they exceeded a violation threshold. This was because the company was looking at each case individually, according to the report.

“After the Capitol Insurrection and a wave of Storm the Capitol events across the country, we realized that the individual delegitimizing Groups, Pages and slogans did constitute a cohesive movement,” the report said.

Delegitimization of elections was a “new territory” and “few policies or knowledge existed” prior to election night, Facebook’s report said.

“We learned a lot from these cases,” the report added. “We’re building tools and protocols and having policy discussions to help us do better next time.”

A Facebook spokesperson told Insider in a statement that the company tried to reduce the amount of claims of a fraudulent election by suspending Trump’s account, removing the Stop the Steal group, and labeling candidates’ post with vote-counting information.

“As we’ve said previously, we still saw problematic content on our platform during this period and we know that we didn’t catch everything,” the spokesperson said. The report is not a “definitive post-mortem report,” they added.

A week after the riots, Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, said the event wasn’t primarily organized on the platform but admitted the company’s moderation “is never perfect.”

In March, CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee about the role tech its site plays in the spread of misinformation and extremism online.

Zuckerberg said the company worked with law enforcement before January 6 to identify and address threats, and remove violent posts about the attacks.

“We didn’t catch everything, but we made our services inhospitable to those who might do harm,” he added.

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