Prosecutors showed a jury in Brooklyn federal court messages and social media videos in which Brendan Hunt, 37, makes threats against the three Democratic politicians. Jury selection started last Monday, with opening statements taking place on Wednesday.
Hunt is charged with one count of threatening to assault and murder a US official, and could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted. He pleaded not guilty to the charge.
Though he didn’t attend the January 6 riot at the US Capitol, Hunt used the timing of the insurrection to encourage more violence against government officials, federal prosecutor Francisco Navarro said in his opening statement.
Hunt allegedly posted videos of himself at his Queens home later in January discussing the riots, threatening to kill senators and encouraging others to go back to the Capitol on Inauguration Day and take their guns, according to evidence presented by prosecutors.
In a Facebook account registered to HuntBrendan, prosecutors say, Hunt posted his praise in December for people who have fought back against Covid-19 mitigation protocols — and praised violence against police but also said people should instead “go after a high value target” like Pelosi, Schumer or Ocasio-Cortez.
The social media posts were admitted as trial evidence.
The government rested its case Monday after more than three days of testimony. Its last witness was an employee from Ocasio-Cortez’s office, Daniel Bonthius.
Hunt’s defense will pick up its case on Tuesday. His counsel did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment.
Prosecutors also showed the jury text messages Hunt allegedly sent to his father last November, around the time of the presidential election.
In the string of messages, Hunt allegedly mentioned Adolf Hitler and said the American people would support then-President Donald Trump if he overrode the democratic process like Hitler did to remain president despite the election looking like it was leaning in now-President Joe Biden’s favor.
“Trump should just declare martial law, cancel the transfer of power, and round up the domestic enemies of our republic. The military and the american people would back him. During hitlers first term in office, circumstances were such that it was necessary for him to override the democratic process and become the absolute leader of his country. Trump should prob do the same if necessary or they will throw his family in jail and destroy the country,” Hunt allegedly says in one text.
His father, Judge John Hunt, responded, encouraging his son to patiently await the legal process to vet the results of the contentious election.
“All of these election issues have to and will be resolved through a legal process,” John Hunt said, according to the text messages introduced in court.
Prosecutors say Brendan Hunt continued the conversation with anti-Semitic and anti-immigrant remarks.
“Previous generations were right to be suspicious of immigrants. Look at the mafias that were set up by the jews, italians, and even the irish. New York has been completely taken over by zionist jews who have loyalty to israel not america,” a text message said.
“The crime rate soar among second-generation immigrants. They are taking our jobs, our benefits, our birthright, and our culture. They refuse to assimilate, they join gangs and terrorize our citizens, they have no accountability and many if not most of them are actively supporting the overthrow of our president.”