Utah resident John Earle Sullivan — one of the participants in the Trump-inspired riot at the Capitol in January of this year — is now facing a slew of federal criminal charges, including weapon-related counts, and has had $90,000 seized by federal authorities. The tens of thousands of dollars that have now been confiscated from Sullivan came from the sale of footage that he captured amid the Capitol riot of the shooting of Ashli Babbitt, a Trump supporter who had been on the scene. News organizations purchased Sullivan’s footage.
Babbitt had been climbing through a broken pane of glass while apparently attempting to gain access to the members of Congress who were sheltering in place just steps away when she was shot by an officer. Throughout the chaos, the Trump supporters who had gathered openly proclaimed their murderous intentions towards top government officials. At one point, for instance, the frenzied mob chanted that they wanted to hang then-Vice President Mike Pence over his perceived lack of sufficient loyalty to Trumpism. Members of the mob put up an actual gallows outside of the Capitol building.
Meanwhile, as summarized by Reuters, court filings state that Sullivan “portrayed himself as an independent journalist who was reporting on the chaos, but actually encouraged other participants to “burn” the building and engage in violence.” He claimed to a witness that the footage he had captured of Babbitt’s shooting was “worth like a million of dollars, millions of dollars.”
Sullivan is one of well over 400 rioters who have faced federal charges in the aftermath of their participation in the attack on the U.S. seat of government. Republicans including former President Trump himself have attempted to gloss over the reality of what unfolded. The truth is, however, that a mob of the then-president’s supporters violently assaulted Capitol Police officers and murderously hunted top government leaders, putting many lives in danger.