“Many politicians are writing a false narrative about what happened,” said District Judge Thomas Hogan, an appointee of former President Ronald Reagan. “I think they are misleading people … I am terribly afraid that people are going to follow that false narrative.”
Hogan added that he was concerned whether January 6 defendants “aren’t taking responsibility for what their role was and what they might do after the next election,” and called the riot an “unforgivable” day that will “affect this country for many years.”
The comments came during a sentencing hearing for defendant Jacob Wiedrich, who pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of illegally demonstrating in the Capitol. Wiedrich was sentenced to three years of probation so that he would be supervised through the 2024 presidential election “to make sure that you do not fall victim to false gods again.”
Many judges have grappled over whether to send defendants who were not violent or destructive on January 6 to jail and questioned how cognizant rioters are of the seriousness of the attack.
Of the 82 defendants who have been sentenced so far, more than half have received lesser penalties like house arrest, a couple years of probation, hefty fines or court-ordered community service.
“I hope you understand that you have to learn information fully, that you have to read both sides and not fall for false information when you make your decisions about politics,” Hogan said as he handed down the sentence. “It really is hard for me not to send all of these people to jail to have some time to think and reflect a bit, to consider what politics they are following, to reflect on what they think is true.”
Wiedrich, who was 23 when he stormed the Capitol, admitted to walking through the building for 20 minutes on January 6. Prosecutors claim that he posted videos of himself screaming “we ride for Trump, we die for Trump” at the Capitol and shouting at police.
Wiedrich is also alleged to have stolen a decorative American flag, though he did not plead guilty to any theft charges and prosecutors said during the hearing that the flag has since been returned.