‘Attempted Coup” participants from Pa. will be prosecuted

Written by on January 8, 2021

‘Attempted Coup” participants from Pa. will be prosecuted

By Sam Dunklau / WITF

January 8, 2021

Demonstrators try to open a door of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. Photo| Jose Luis Magana / AP Photo

State and federal law enforcement are preparing to investigate and prosecute anyone from Pennsylvania who was involved in the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

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A number of the commonwealth’s state and federal prosecutors are planning to press charges against anyone from Pennsylvania found to have been involved in the attack on the U.S. Capitol Wednesday that temporarily disrupted the certification of the nation’s Electoral College votes.

At least a dozen people from Pennsylvania have been arrested by DC Metro Police in the wake of the riots. One Schuylkill County man in his 50s is among the four who died according to The Morning Call.

Each of the three U.S. attorneys condemned the hundreds of insurrectionists backing President Donald Trump who stormed the Capitol building. Western District of Pennsylvania U.S. Attorney Scott Brady called their actions “completely unacceptable.”

Bruce Brandler of the Middle District said his office will be among those partnering with other agencies to identify and prosecute alleged rioters suspects — many of whom took selfies or recorded their actions.

“Our office will prosecute to the fullest extent of the law any individual who traveled from the Middle District of Pennsylvania to Washington D.C. with the intent to incite or commit those violent and destructive acts,” he said in a statement

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said his office will aid in those efforts. Though the commonwealth’s top lawyer has not charged anyone yet and would not comment on specific cases, Shapiro said crimes like conspiracy to break the law in another place is one charge he can level against Pennsylvania-based extremists.

“The question is whether or not the evidence can be linked to a particular individual and what is the proper jurisdiction to bring those charges,” Shapiro said.

Consequences of the Capitol attack continued to reverberate Thursday.

Several Democratic state lawmakers began calling for state Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-Adams County) to resign over his role in the events connected to the attack.

Mastriano appears to have organized a bus trip to Washington, D.C. for a rally for President Donald Trump via a Facebook page. The state lawmaker was also photographed with former State Rep. Rick Saccone outside the Capitol as a crowd gathered. Some in the crowd later attacked the Capitol.

“Make no mistake, since Election Day, Mastriano openly conspired with Donald Trump to lay the foundation for yesterday’s attempted coup,” Democratic state Sen. Vincent Hughes (Philadelphia County) said in a statement Thursday.

Democratic state Sens. Tim Kearney (Chester, Delaware counties) initially called for Mastriano’s resignation as news about his presence in Washington unfolded Wednesday night.

Newly-elected state Sens. Amanda Cappelletti (D-Delaware, Montgomery counties) and John Kane (D-Chester, Delaware counties) are among those who have signed on to that effort.

Senate President Jake Corman (R-Centre County) dismissed calls for Mastriano’s resignation. Corman said Mastriano told him that, while he did attend the rally that preceded the attack on the Capitol, he did not do anything illegal.

“I talked with Senator Mastriano who shared with me that he and his wife attended the political rally in Washington, D.C., but left as the horrific turmoil began to unfold,” Corman wrote. “He assured me that he did not participate in any unlawful activities. Absent facts to the contrary, the Senate has no cause to act.”

Mastriano could not be reached for a separate comment. He did address his involvement in the gathering in a Wednesday night statement that condemned the violence.

“When it was apparent that this was no longer a peaceful protest, my wife and I left the area and made our way out of the area,” Mastriano said. “At no point did we enter the Capitol building, walk on the Capitol steps or go beyond police lines.”

Gov. Tom Wolf is among those who called the attack “an attempted coup.” The governor has also activated more than 1,000 National Guard Troops to help law enforcement efforts in DC for the next few weeks.

In response to President Trump’s apparent encouragement of rioters as the attack unfolded, several Democratic members of the state’s congressional delegation have joined an effort calling for Trump’s removal under the 25th Amendment to the Constitution. They include:

  • Sen. Bob Casey
  • U.S. Rep. Madeleine Dean
  • U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle
  • U.S. Rep. Dwight Evans
  • U.S. Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon

The 25th Amendment sets out a procedure of succession when a president is no longer able to fulfill their duties, usually due to a physical or mental disability. If it were successfully invoked, Vice President Mike Pence would be installed as president until President-elect Joe Biden assumes office on Jan. 20.

Shapiro had a direct message on Jan. 7 to those who participated.

“I want to be very clear: if you organized a plan to carry out yesterday’s illegal attack on our country from Pennsylvania, and we have evidence you participated, we will use every tool at our disposal to hold you accountable.

“The question is whether or not the evidence can be linked to a particular individual and what is the proper jurisdiction to bring those charges,” Shapiro says.

At least a dozen Pennsylvanians were arrested by DC Metro Police in the immediate wake of the attack. A Schuylkill County man in his 50s is among the three who died of medical emergencies.  

Several state lawmakers are also calling for State Senator Doug Mastriano to resign. He appears to have organized a bus trip to Washington.

Separately, Gov. Tom Wolf, who is is among those calling the attack “an attempted coup,”  activated 1,000 of the state’s National Guard troops to help law enforcement efforts there for the next few weeks.

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