Paul Hodgkins, a Trump supporter from Florida, has now become the first Capitol rioter to be sentenced over a felony charge connected to the violence. Hodgkins is among over 530 supporters of the former president who have faced federal criminal charges for participating in the riot at the Capitol in January. Now, Hodgkins, who pleaded guilty to obstructing an official proceeding, has been sentenced to eight months in prison. Notably, the crime to which he pleaded guilty can carry a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, the Justice Department has noted, but ultimately, there is a broad range of consequences available for those guilty of the act. In this case, prosecutors sought an 18-month sentence from the judge.
During the riot, Hodgkins carried a Trump flag onto the Senate floor, from which Senators and the then-vice president himself had just recently fled for their safety. U.S. District Judge Randolph D. Moss, who handled Hodgkins’s sentencing, observed that the “symbolism of that act was unmistakable,” adding that Hodgkins “was staking a claim on the floor of the U.S. Senate not with an American flag, but declaring his loyalty to a single individual over the nation.” The judge also noted that, via carrying a Trump flag onto the Senate floor, Hodgkins “captured the threat to democracy that we all witnessed that day.”
Hodgkins has expressed remorse for his actions. Ahead of his sentencing, he said that he “can say without a shadow of a doubt I am truly remorseful and regretful for my actions in our nation’s Capitol on January 6, the damage that my actions caused and the way the country I love has been hurt.” The judge noted how the violence in which Hodgkins, in a way, participated stands to leave a lasting shadow over the nation. As Moss put it, the riot “means it will be harder for all of us to tell our children and grandchildren that democracy stands as the immutable foundation of our nation. It means we are all fearful of the next attack in a way we never were, and it makes us question whether our democracy is less secure than we believed just months ago.”
Unlike others who have pleaded guilty to federal criminal charges in connection to the Capitol riot, Hodgkins did not strike a deal to provide prosecutors with information. He traveled to Washington, D.C., alone and has no ties to far-right groups like the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys, about which information would be useful for authorities.