A 34-year-old man who traveled with his mother to D.C. for former President Donald Trump’s Jan. 6 rally and stormed the U.S. Capitol while wearing a “(F**k) your feelings” sweatshirt pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor on Wednesday.
Russell James Peterson was arrested in Rochester, Pennsylvania, in February. He originally faced four misdemeanor charges. As part of a plea deal, Peterson pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor charge of “parading, demonstrating, or picketing” in a Capitol building, and the other charges will be dropped at sentencing. Under the plea agreement, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson indicated, Peterson will cooperate with the government and be interviewed by law enforcement about Jan. 6 and give them access to his phone and social media accounts.
A witness told the FBI that Peterson’s mother, Shelly Peterson, had posted on Facebook that her son “sat in Pelosi’s chair,” referring to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). A search warrant to Facebook showed that Peterson had posted at least two Facebook livestreams while inside the U.S. Capitol complex.
Peterson, who told Judge Jackson that he went to school until 11th grade and spent time in foster care, admitted that he drove from Pennsylvania to D.C. with both his wife and mother. Peterson entered the Capitol through the Senate wing door, according to the statement of offense read in court. Peterson admitted talking about how he had “fun” inside the Capitol, and talking about how he had “stormed” the Capitol after Jan. 6. During the hearing, Peterson told Judge Jackson that he used a restroom inside the Capitol. There was no indication in court that Peterson actually sat in Pelosi’s chair.
Peterson is one of dozens of defendants who have pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge in connection with Jan. 6. The FBI has made about 600 arrests in connection with the U.S. Capitol attack, and hundreds more cases are in the works. Officials have called the unprecedented Capitol breach hunt the largest investigation in American history.
A number of high-profile defendants have entered guilty pleas in recent days. Jacob Chansley, better known as the “QAnon Shaman,” pleaded guilty to a felony last week. Gracyn Courtright, who bragged about her “infamy” after she stormed the Capitol, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor. Robert Scott Palmer, who was arrested 12 days after he was identified in a HuffPost story built on the work of online sleuths who call themselves #SeditionHunters, indicated last week that he would enter a guilty plea for assaulting officers with a fire extinguisher.
On Tuesday, Duke Wilson ― who wore a “CNN FAKE NEWS” hat as he attacked officers at the Capitol ― pleaded guilty to two felony charges. Earlier on Wednesday, Trump supporter Frank Scavo ― who chartered four buses to D.C. for Trump’s Jan. 6 rally ― pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge. His plea deal features a cooperation component, which means he could help the feds identify other Trump supporters who traveled on one of Scavo’s buses and then stormed the U.S. Capitol.
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