JON SCHAFFER Leaves DC Courthouse After Pleading Guilty To US Capitol Riot Charges; Video
April 22, 2021, 2 weeks ago
Iced Earth guitarist, Jon Schaffer, pleaded guilty last Friday (August 16) to two crimes related to the US Capitol insurrection, making him the first rioter to do so. NewsNation Now producer Alex Rhoades was there as Schaffer emerged from a DC Federal Court, and has shared the video (see below).
Schaffer was met outside the courthouse by an unidentified woman, the pair walked away ignoring questions from Rhoades.
CNN reported that Schaffer pleaded guilty to obstruction of an official proceeding and entering a building with a dangerous weapon. He admitted to carrying bear spray into the Capitol complex during the formal certification of the Electoral College votes.
Schaffer was the first pro-Trump rioter to plead guilty and admit his crimes. His plea was in the works for at least a few weeks, and recent court filings revealed that he met with federal investigators for several "debrief interviews" last month.
Prosecutors and Schaffer's attorneys agreed to recommend that he get between 3.5 and 4.5 years in prison, based on how fruitful his cooperation is with the government. The sentencing decision will ultimately be made by federal Judge Amit Mehta, who is overseeing the case.
Investigators likely asked for information about the Oath Keepers, the far-right paramilitary group with a dozen members facing conspiracy charges. Schaffer wore an "Oath Keepers Lifetime Member" hat inside the Capitol, but his defense attorneys have distanced him from the group, saying he bought the hat from a fan and doesn't know anything about the organization.
Many of the Capitol riot defendants have expressed interest in pleading guilty and attempting to move on with their lives. But those plea deals - and potential cooperation deals - have been slowed down while prosecutors waited for sign-off from senior Justice Department officials.
Schaffer's plea was made official during a hastily arranged hearing Friday in DC District Court.
As part of the plea deal, Schaffer agreed to cooperate with investigators and potentially testify in related criminal cases, according to the court proceedings. In return for Schaffer's assistance, the Justice Department might later urge the judge to show leniency during his sentencing.
Read more at CNN.com.