We can add one more name to the growing list of co-conspirators, sycophants, ladder climbers, and lawmakers who are hoping for a last-minute pardon from President Trump. An official with the Department of Justice announced on Friday that Derrick Evans, a member of the West Virginia House of Delegates, will face criminal charges for his role in the riots at the Capitol on Wednesday.
On a call with the press, Ken Kohl, first assistant for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the District of Columbia, announced 15 federal cases stemming from this week’s violence. The Evans case hasn’t been uploaded to the federal docket as of this writing, but HuffPost reports that it’s expected this afternoon. Evans has reportedly been charged with unlawfully entering a restricted area, according to Bloomberg.
It’s been just over a month since Evans was first sworn-in to represent the 19th district in the West Virginia House of Delegates. (West Virginia is one of three states that refers to its representatives as delegates.) If you’d like to get a glimpse of what the Trump-supporting Republican allegedly did to get the attention of the feds, you can watch a video that the lawmaker uploaded to Facebook on Wednesday. The short clip shows Evans in a helmet at the front of a crowd trying to breach the doors of the Capitol Building while he chants, “Trump! Trump! Trump!” and lets out a Ric Flair-worthy, “wooo!” Evans isn’t seen tampering with the door but he cheers as rioters pry them open. As the crowd tries to push through the police, Evans cheers, “we’re in,” and rushes through the doors as the cops are overtaken.
Evans’s Facebook page is no longer available, but the clip from his livestream was uploaded by West Virginia Democrat Paula Jean Swearingen. CNN reports that in a separate video that has since been deleted, Evans laughed as he predicted a riot and said, “they’re making an announcement right now saying if Pence betrays us you better get your minds right because we’re storming that building.” He then added the caveat that he’s “just the messenger.”
On Thursday, John Bryan, an attorney representing Evans, released a statement saying that his client is an “independent activist and journalist” in addition to his duties as a state delegate. Bryan said his client “engaged in no violence, no rioting, no destruction of property, and no illegal behavior.”
Charges have been slow to come after thousands stormed the building as a joint session of Congress attempted to certify the results of the 2020 election. At least 56 police officers were injured, two hospitalized, one died, three members of the public died due to medical emergencies, and one person at the scene died from a gunshot wound on Wednesday. But few arrests were made at the scene, and that could complicate law enforcement’s ability to separate rioters from bystanders and press. Richard Barnett, the 60-year-old man who put his feet up on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s desk and claimed to have stolen her mail, was just arrested today. He made it home to Arkansas first.
A lot of people who’ve been brain-poisoned by President Trump’s pathological lies or just love to use him as an excuse for cruelty will likely face legal repercussions in the coming weeks. But the organizer of the riot, President Trump, could get off scot-free. Pelosi has indicated that the House may hold impeachment hearings next week charging Trump with “incitement of insurrection.” But the chorus of politicians and political influencers is already saying it’s too dangerous to try to stop Trump.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said in a statement on Friday that impeaching Trump would only “divide our country more” and, therefore, there should be no consequences for the president. Similarly, former Sen. Bob Corker condemned Sens. Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley for their roles in Wednesday’s attack in an interview with MSNBC. But on the subject of impeachment, Corker said that Trump thrives on victimhood and an impeachment hearing would only “strengthen him” because his base would “rally to his cause.” And this afternoon, the DOJ told NBC News that it doesn’t expect to bring any charges against speakers at the pre-riot festivities.
Perhaps for the first time, it seems safe to say that Trump has amassed a private army to innoculate himself from consequences, and he operates outside any system that applies to the rest of us.