Faruquis decision capped a bizarre hearing in an equally extraordinary case. Reffitt was reported to the FBI by his son, Jackson, the week before the Jan. 6 insurrection, and an unidentified family member also secretly recorded multiple conversations upon his return from Washington.
In addition, Reffitt told his son and daughter that if they turned him in to the FBI they would be traitors, and traitors get shot.
FILE – In this Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, file photo, violent protesters storm the Capitol, in Washington. People charged in the attack on the U.S. Capitol left behind a trove of videos and messages that have helped federal authorities build cases. In nearly half of the more than 200 federal cases stemming from the attack, authorities have cited evidence that an insurrectionist appeared to have been inspired by conspiracy theories or extremist ideologies, according to an Associated Press review of court records. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File) | John Minchillo/AP Photo
Jackson Reffitt told the FBI he feared that his father might harm him, and he has since relocated to an undisclosed location, according to prosecutors.
In addition, prosecutors revealed encrypted communications that show Reffitt discussing his ability to obtain police-grade firearms and use them to take back our country in future actions aimed at media outlets and social media companies.
But it was the appearance of Reffitts daughter, Peyton, shepherded into the room by his wife, Nicole, during a two-hour court hearing held via Zoom on Monday one of only a few Capitol-related hearings to feature live witness testimony that set the matter apart. The hearing shined a light on a family torn apart by the riot and its aftermath, and showed the personal toll that the participants in the insurrection has taken on their loved ones and communities.
Jackson, who reported his dad to the FBI around Christmas, has since done national interviews and publicly defended his decision on social media. Peyton, in her testimony, said he was simply not as close with their father and didnt understand what his words meant.
Absolutely not, she said repeatedly when asked whether she thought her dad would ever hurt her or her brother.
Peyton recalled the exchange in which her father said that traitors get shot, but she said she never viewed the comment as a genuine threat. Rather, she said, her father often says things that cross the line and engages in puffery, but would never hurt his family.
I wasn’t in fear, she said. It was just, I guess, annoying in a way. He says things that cross the line all the time. I didn’t feel threatened at all.
Peytons boyfriend, who witnessed the exchange and at times stays over at the Reffitts house, vouched for that characterization, as well.
The exchanges were awkward. Reffitts wife and daughter struggled with the mute button, connection issues and general unfamiliarity with the process though Peyton emphasized how many documents she had read in preparation and noted that she had testified to a grand jury about her dads case.
Prosecutors tried to delicately pick apart her testimony. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Nestler noted that while Peyton and her boyfriend might not have felt threatened, Jackson, who had already reported his father to the FBI, was uniquely subject to his dads threatening language.
The family appeared caught off-guard by the conciliatory Faruquis ruling, bursting into sobs mute button officially turned off as they processed the news.
Unfortunately, I believe detention is appropriate here. It is not an easy thing for me to say.
My heart is broken, Faruqui said. I see your family suffering but the law dictates that I have to look at the facts.
The judge, recognizing the uncomfortable nature of the hearing and particularly the outcome, was extremely solicitous to Reffitts wife and daughter.
I admire your daughters wisdom that people can have differing political views and we still have to be a family, Faruqui said, pausing to apply the same belief to the American family.
This was not an easy decision, Faruqui insisted at one point, although he later said he had grave concern about the danger posed by Guy Reffitt and that the defendant was in a different category than most of the other Capitol riot suspects.
Faruqui also tried to break the tension with some quips. After Nestler asked Peytons boyfriend about their relationship, the judge said he was impressed with the kind words for her father.
Always be nice to your daughters boyfriend. Ill remember that for myself, Faruqui said.
Faruqui said he was particularly troubled by the governments claims, based on alleged boasts by Reffitt, that he brought two firearms to Washington and took one into the melee at the Capitol building.
This shows to me premeditation, that he was coming with the intent to fight, the judge said. This is someone who came armed and ready for battle.
Reffitt is charged with two felonies: obstruction of an official proceeding and obstruction of justice for threatening his children, as well as a misdemeanor charge of entering Secret Service-protected grounds without authority. Prosecutors say he premeditated a plan to attack the Capitol, drove across the country to carry it out and though he ultimately wasnt charged with any crimes of violence returned to Texas with a plan to commit other violent acts.
Prosecutors identified Reffitt as a leader of the Three Percenters, a group that believes the U.S. government is akin to British oppressors and that a small minority of armed militias can take it back by force. Messages on Telegram between Reffitt and potential recruits to his group were part of the governments case.
Despite the contention by prosecutors that Reffitt took a weapon to the Capitol grounds, the current indictment does not accuse him of having one there.
Reffitt is one of several Capitol riot defendants who appear to have spent many weeks in transit to Washington from the site of their arrest and initial court appearances. Welch noted on Monday that Reffitt was arrested nearly two months ago. The defense attorney also said his client had spent three days during that period in the intensive care unit of a hospital because authorities did not provide him with necessary medications.