A pro-Trump social media influencer who stormed the Capitol and encouraged rioters to strip a police officer of his riot shield will spend the next three months on home confinement and three years on probation after a federal judge passed sentence on him Monday.
Judge Dabney Friedrich imposed the home confinement and probation sentence on Brandon Straka – along with a $5,000 fine — after prosecutors asked her to sentence him to four months of house arrest.
In a sentencing memorandum, prosecutors said it was “important to convey to future potential rioters — especially those who intend to improperly influence the democratic process — that their actions will have consequences”.
But the government also credited Straka with cooperating in their investigation, and said their recommendation of a house arrest sentence was because the Justice Department had “given considerable weight to Straka’s early willingness to agree to be interviewed by law enforcement and acknowledge his wrongdoing”.
“Straka’s primary occupation is as an influencer. Having embraced that vocation, he must be cognisant of his power to influence others … as a public figure who continues to have a large social media following, Straka has a responsibility to ensure that his rhetorical flourishes do not endanger others,” they wrote.
“Straka cheered the crowd that breached the U.S Capitol; he celebrated the breach by posting video to Twitter; he encouraged rioters to take a police officer’s shield by chanting ‘Take the shield’ and ‘USA’ after the shield was taken”.
In his own court filings, Straka’s attorney Bilal Essayli wrote that the government was “apparently attempting to make a public example of a prominent Trump-supporting influencer”, and alleged that the Justice Department’s pursuit of his client was part of a push to establish “an organized conspiracy” between Straka, former President Donald Trump and his allies.
Straka “denied the existence of any such plot,” Mr Essayli added.