A man who joined the January 6 attack on the US Capitol and carried a large red Trump flag onto the floor of the Senate pleaded guilty Wednesday to a charge of obstructing an official proceeding, as the Justice Department begins chipping away at some 450 cases related to the uprising.
Paul Hodgkins, 38, was the second person to plead guilty in what has been called an insurrection by supporters of president Donald Trump that shut down the Congress and stunned the country.
The native of Tampa, Florida travelled alone to Washington on the day that President Joe Biden’s election victory over Trump was to be certified by Congress.
Encouraged by statements from Trump, he and several hundred others stormed the Capitol and broke inside, injuring scores of police officers.
Wearing a “Trump 2020” T-shirt and waving a flag with the same slogan, he took selfies on the Senate floor along with several others.
But he was not accused of assault or similar charges levied against many of those who took part.
Hodgkins’s crime brings up to 20 years in prison, but the court said based on his lack of a criminal record and other factors he could receive between 15 and 21 months in prison.
With more than 450 people charged in the Capitol assault, the Justice Department is reportedly seeking plea deals to clear out many cases. Most are facing relatively minor charges of disorderly conduct and illegally entering a federal building.
Several dozen, though, are charged with conspiracy and armed attack on law enforcement officials.
The Justice Department is reportedly still considering whether to charge some, especially those affiliated with armed, violent groups like the Proud Boys, with sedition.
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