An attorney for the woman who allegedly stole House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s laptop asserts her client was not running from investigators, but from an abusive ex-boyfriend who implicated the defendant.
Federal public defender Lori J. Ulrich said in court Thursday that the individual stalked and harassed defendant Riley June Williams, 22, and that this resulted in Williams getting a restraining order against him, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. The newspaper noted that court records were still under seal, and they could not independently verify this.
Ulrich, however, did not dispute that her client was involved in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol Building, where supporters of then-President Donald Trump raided the premises in a failed attempt to stop Congress from certifying Electoral College results for current POTUS Joe Biden. Trump had continued to lie that he actually won the 2020 presidential election, and that it was being stolen from him. As in some of the other cases, people are pointing at the ex-president as the inciting figure in all of this.
“It’s regrettable that Ms. Williams took the president’s bait and went inside the Capitol that day,” Ulrich said.
While there is a defense against the allegation that Williams fled from investigators, it’s unclear how the defense will precisely handle the claim that the defendant swiped a laptop from Pelosi’s office. Ulrich called the ex-boyfriend’s allegations “overstated.” In any case, the Thursday hearing pretty much went the defense’s way. Williams was released pending trial, on home confinement. Another hearing is set for Monday.
— Chelsea Koerbler (@ChelseaKoerbler) January 21, 2021
The defendant is charged with knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority; violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. Charges of theft of government property and obstruction of Congress were stacked on that after Williams’ arrest.
As previously reported, the FBI said a person claimed they learned Williams stole a device from Pelosi’s office and that she wanted to sell the device to Russia:
W1 also claimed to have spoken to friends of WILLIAMS, who showed W1 a video of WILLIAMS taking a laptop computer or hard drive from Speaker Pelosi’s office. W1 stated that WILLIAMS intended to send the computer device to a friend in Russia, who then planned to sell the device to SVR, Russia’s foreign intelligence service. According to W1, the transfer of the computer device to Russia fell through for unknown reasons and WILLIAMS still has the computer device or destroyed it. This matter remains under investigation.
The FBI noted that officers in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania told them that law enforcement got a suspicious persons report on Jan. 11 from Williams’ mother. It was at an address both mother and daughter shared.
“According to WILLIAMS’ mother, the suspicious person was assumed to be [the ex],” authorities said.
The FBI have said that was indeed Williams at the Capitol, citing video, footage, and interviews with her mother. Investigators were at first agnostic about the theft claim, only saying it was under investigation. That changed, however.
They followed up with an amended complaint which they said showed the theft of the laptop, and an online account (ostensibly the defendant’s) admitting to stealing from Pelosi.
[Mugshot via Dauphin County Prison]
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