Following in Donald Trump’s footsteps, a 26-year-old convicted for scaling a wall of the U.S. Capitol may land in legal hot water for what he posted on his now-suspended Twitter account.
Jeremiah Caplinger may not have realized prosecutors were watching when he took to Twitter late last year to mock the FBI, well after his conviction climbing a wall of the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 siege.
“In early December 2021, in response to another person’s question as to the meaning of ‘FBI,’ Caplinger responded on Twitter, ‘Federal Bitches of Incompetence,'” prosecutors wrote in a footnote of a 60-page sentencing memo on Tuesday.
Those tweets could sideline Caplinger’s political aspirations as a Michigan state representative hopeful.
Prosecutors want the 26-year-old to serve a three-month jail sentence for the misdemeanor offense, which carries a maximum term of twice that time.
“I Chose Violence”
In November, Caplinger pleaded guilty to a federal offense specifically prohibiting him from climbing anywhere on Capitol grounds, and prosecutors highlighted the jibe to argue that he was unrepentant.
Two days after Jan. 6, Caplinger posted a picture of an American revolutionary soldier captioned: “As said by Cersi Lannister ‘I choose violence,’” according to the memo.
Prosecutors unpacked the cultural reference from HBO’s “Game of Thrones” in a footnote.
“After being confronted by a group of politically-empowered religious zealots, who warn her that that if she does not yield to them ‘there will be violence,’ Cersei Lannister responds, ‘I choose violence,'” the footnote states. “Shortly thereafter, Cersei Lannister used a weapon of mass destruction to blow up one of the largest and most important buildings in the capital city, which at the time contained almost all of the city’s preeminent politicians and religious leaders.”
Caplinger boasted about the attack in an interview with MLive.com, where he said he entered the Capitol because it “looked fun” and he did not regret his actions.
“To have a regret means to have done something wrong,” he told the website. “To have done something wrong would mean I broke something, destroyed something or whatever. No.”
Though Caplinger allegedly changed his tune in an FBI interview after his November guilty plea, prosecutors say he “repeatedly lied” during that conversation.
“First, he falsely denied that he owned a Parler social media account,” the memo states. “Then he falsely denied that he brought body armor with him to the U.S. Capitol.”
Downplaying the attack on the Capitol, Caplinger allegedly “re-tweeted conspiracy theories” about it.
“In response to another user referring to January 6 as “#GasLightingDayJan6′ and tweeting a doctored video of members of Congress wearing fur headdresses, the defendant tweeted ‘Lmfao,'” prosecutors wrote, spelling out the internet slang in another footnote as “laughing my fucking ass off.”
In another tweet on his now-suspended account, Caplinger referred to U.S. elected officials afraid of the siege by the pro-Trump mob as “worthless cowards.”
A screenshot of the message is included in the prosecution’s memo.
“The defendant’s statements on social media and to news reporters and his lies to the FBI (which took place 11 months after January 6 and more than a month after his guilty plea) demonstrate Caplinger’s failure to accept responsibility for his actions and his lack of contrition,” the memo continues.
In their memo, prosecutors emphasize that Caplinger enjoys his First Amendment rights to hold whatever political views he wants, but they say a judge could consider those statements to determine whether he is likely to participate in another attack like the one that took place on Jan. 6.
“No matter how often, loudly, or adamantly the defendant declares himself a ‘patriot’ for his support of former President Trump and touts his skepticism of the results of the 2020 presidential election, the conduct Caplinger engaged in on January 6, 2021 to pursue his beliefs was not First Amendment-protected speech or First Amendment-protected protest,” they wrote.
A stay-at-home dad “terminated from five jobs in the past year due to his unwillingness to comply with mask and vaccine mandates,” Caplinger racked up multiple pretrial release violations by testing positive for cannabis five times since being charged: on Aug. 4, 2021; Sept. 16, 2021; Oct. 15, 2021; Dec. 9, 2021; and Jan. 14, 2022, according to prosecutors.
“In fact, even after the Court admonished the defendant for his repeated marijuana use, Caplinger has again tested positive twice for marijuana,” the memo states.
Caplinger’s federal defender James R. Gerometta depicted his client as the young father of an infant daughter and the product of a “turbulent” household. He noted his client, a Michigander, is now mounting “a campaign to become a state representative.”
Read the government sentencing memo, below:
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