The growing roster of Jan. 6 defendants quoted explicitly linking their actions to former President Donald Trump’s rhetoric expanded on Tuesday with an indictment of two Pennsylvania men charged with assaulting law enforcement guarding the U.S. Capitol.
Extensively quoting their violent chatter, court papers show Marshall Neefe and Charles Bradford Smith, both 25, repeatedly saying they understood Trump’s Dec. 18 tweet — “Be there, will be wild!” — as a command.
“The call to action was put out to be in DC on January 6th from the Don himself,” Smith allegedly told Neefe on Dec. 22, some four days after Trump’s infamous tweet.
In a similar comment on New Year’s Eve, Smith allegedly confirmed he did not view that call to action as peaceful.
“Trump is literally calling people to DC in a show of force,” Smith told one Facebook user on Dec. 31, according to the indictment. “Militias will be there and if there’s enough people they may fucking storm the buildings and take out the trash right there.”
Beyond showing Trump’s inspiration, the indictment chronicles the duo’s alleged radicalization and their repetition of the slogan shouted by Abraham Lincoln’s assassin. Prosecutors claim they warned about ratcheting up the violence and that one said he wanted to line up and “put down” the police who used their batons or mace to defend the Capitol.
“Hope It Burns Either Way”
Smith is hardly unique among Jan. 6 defendants in his interpretation of Trump’s words.
Kelly Meggs, the Florida chapter leader of the Oath Keepers, was quoted in court papers referring to the same former presidential tweet.
“Trump said It’s gonna be wild!!!!!!! It’s gonna be wild!!!!!!! He wants us to make it WILD that’s what he’s saying,” Meggs allegedly wrote on Facebook on Dec. 22, the same day as Smith’s message.
Several other U.S. Capitol breach defendants have pointed to the 45th president’s comments before Jan. 6 to mitigate their own alleged or admitted conduct, like so-called “QAnon Shaman” Jacob Chansley, Proud Boy William Chrestman, and a man accused of spraying a fire extinguisher during the melee.
As for Neefe and Smith, prosecutors claim that their rhetoric radicalized after the election, and even the violence on Jan. 6 did not dissipate their alleged bloodlust.
“Im getting ready to storm D.C.,” Neefe is quoted telling Smith on Nov. 4, the day after Election Day, in a typo-filled missive. “Seriously tho if biden wins theres a good chance ill do something for the better of man.”
Delays in the count made the results uncertain at that point, and Smith is quoted saying: “Now if Trump wins the riots will be 50 times worse.”
But the imagined violence of the other side was not something either man lamented, prosecutors say.
“Hope it burns either way,” Neefe allegedly wrote.
Smith added: “Me to. [sic] This country needs to split up immediately.”
“Crack Some Commie Skulls”
On Dec. 9, 2020, YouTube announced a new policy to tamp down on election misinformation propagated by Trump and his supporters, an event prosecutors claim Smith fantasized would end in revolutionary violence.
“I hope this starts the War,” Smith was quoted as saying.
The language only escalated after Trump sent out his invitation about the “Big protest in D.C.” on Jan. 6.
“We goin? … Cause hot damn son i really wanna crack some commie skulls,” Neefe was quoted as saying.
“Yeah I”m going 100%,” Smith allegedly replied. “This is way more important than the last one actually. This one’s literally to save the city from chaos while they do their thing in the capital [sic].”
On Christmas and Boxing Day, the two allegedly discussed bringing “batons” with them to Washington, D.C. on Jan. 6.
“Neefe sent a photograph of wooden club he had made to SMITH and others with the caption, ‘Now introducing The Commie Knocker,’ and commented, ‘getting prepped for the 6th lol,’ and, ‘Going to D.C. to make sure them little bitches don’t burn down the city when trump is announced as president,'” the indictment states.
On Jan. 3, Smith messaged another Facebook user that he “Got a K-BAR knife today… it’s the Military killin knife … Just needed a good one for DC,” prosecutors say.
“Sic Semper Tyrannis”
On the day of the assault on the Capitol itself, a Facebook video alleged showed Neefe echoing the words of Lincoln’s assassin John Wilkes Booth, as the pro-Trump horde descended upon the building.
“They’re rushing the Capitol right now. . . . There’s people literally rushing it right now. Sic semper tyrannis.”
The last three words, Latin for “Thus always to tyrants,” were emblazoned on Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh’s T-shirt after authorities found him in the aftermath of that terrorist attack. Associated with two U.S. historical tragedies, the phrase has become adopted as a rallying cry by right-wing extremists.
Attorney General Merrick Garland, who prosecuted McVeigh decades ago, linked that bomber’s domestic terrorist attack with the Jan. 6 siege during his confirmation hearing. A white supremacist Army Reservist charged with participating in the riot allegedly had a copy of “The Turner Diaries,” the same neo-Nazi book that inspired McVeigh.
Smith likewise echoed the slogan, prosecutors say.
“We are literally storming the Capitol,” Smith said in a video, according to the indictment. “The gate – this whole area is blocked off to the public. We’re saying, ‘Fuck it!’ Sic semper tyrannis, bitch. Down with tyrants.”
“Bringing a Gun Next Time”
Prosecutors say both Neefe and Smith helped hoist and push a large metal sign frame holding an oversized “TRUMP” sign into a defensive line of Metropolitan Police Department officers.
Ultimately, however, Neefe expressed dissatisfaction with the level of violence and fantasized about wanting to “put down” police defending the Capitol, prosecutors say.
“Im bringing a gun next time […] Its only going to get more violent. Today was pussy shit dude… If I had it my way every cop who hurled a baton or maced on us would be lined up and put down . . . We made sure they know we fucking OWN them,” he said, according to the indictment.
Citing the delay of certification, Smith allegedly spoke about wanting to “Get” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)—a key target of several Jan. 6 defendants—and opined that the assault on the Capitol was “successful.”
“Remember how they said today was the final day & that Biden would be certified? Well we literally chased them out into hiding,” Smith said, according to the indictment. “No certification lol […] Pence cucked like we knew he would but that was an Unbelievable show of force and it did its job.”
Neefe was charged with conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding; assaulting, resisting or impeding certain officers while using a dangerous weapon; engaging in physical violence in a restricted building or grounds; and carrying out an act of physical violence on the Capitol grounds.
Smith was charged with conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding; entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds; and disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds.
Read the indictment below:
(Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
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