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Pennsylvania Man Who Threatened California Democratic Congressman, Impersonated Trump Family Members Sentenced to Prison


The Donald Trump supporter who threatened to kill a California congressman will spend more than a year behind bars.

Joshua Hall, 22, of Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, was sentenced to 20 months in prison on Monday, according to an announcement from the Justice Department. Hall had pleaded guilty in October to making threats to Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) and members of his staff.

According to prosecutors, Hall placed a series of calls to Swalwell’s office on Aug. 29, 2022, conveying threats to kill Swalwell to at least three members of his staff.

“On a telephone call with Staff Member-1 and Staff Member-2, HALL stated, in substance and in part, that he had a lot of AR-15s; that he wanted to shoot the Congressman; that he intended to come to the Congressman’s office with firearms; and that if he saw the Congressman, he would kill him,” the DOJ’s announcement said. “He further stated, in substance and in part, that he wanted to ‘beat the shit out of’ the Congressman and that he would find the Congressman wherever he was and hurt him.”

Hall had also stated on a call to a staff member that he intended to come to Swalwell’s office and kill him using firearms.

Although the charging and sentencing documents do not name Swalwell specifically, he told CNN that the threats were aimed at him and his office. He also posted about the calls on Twitter the day after they were made.

“A staffer of mine — who’s 1 month into her job — received a call from a man saying he’s coming to our office [with] an assault rifle to kill me,” Swalwell wrote. “I hesitate to share this but how else do I tell you we are in violent times, & the architects are Trump & McCarthy. Bloodshed is coming.”

The reference to “McCarthy” is apparently a reference to then-House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican.

Hall apparently made the calls to Swalwell’s office while he was on pretrial release pending sentencing after pleading guilty to an extensive scheme, in which he created social media profiles pretending to be members of Trump’s family — going so far as to apparently have fooled the then-president himself.

As Law&Crime previously reported, Hall was charged in June 2021 with engaging in a 15-month scheme to impersonate members of Trump’s family in order to raise funds for a political organization that did not exist. The targets of Hall’s plot reportedly included Trump’s son Barron Trump, Trump’s brother Donald Trump, and Dr. Deborah Birx, then the White House coronavirus response coordinator.

One account that impersonated the former president’s sister Elizabeth Trump Gau reportedly prompted Trump to respond “LOVE!” in response on Twitter.

Hall entered his guilty plea to the threats charge on Oct. 28, 2022 — the same day that Paul Pelosi, the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, was violently assaulted by a hammer-wielding attacker who broker into the Pelosi’s home. The alleged assailant in that case, Paul DePape, was reportedly targeting the House Speaker herself.

Hall faced a statutory maximum of five years on the threat charge and up to 20 years on the wire fraud charge. The sentence from U.S. District Judge Gregory H. Woods, a Barack Obama appointee, was less than the 27 months prosecutors had requested, based on the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines Range of 27 to 33 months. Hall had requested a sentence of six months followed by supervised release that included at least six months of inpatient treatment, despite having received such treatment in the past and fleeing from at least one such program, according to the government’s sentencing memo.

Attached to that sentencing memo was a victim impact statement, presumably from Swalwell, who described having to tell his wife — with whom he shares three young children — about Hall’s threats.

“Everyone in the chain of this threat was terrified. And everyone affected deserves the justice of the caller, HALL, receiving a sentence no less than the maximum,” the statement said.

Swalwell said that Hall’s threats came at a particularly politically volatile time.

“Hall threatened the life of an elected federal representative during an era that his fragile country was experiencing acts of political violence,” the statement said. “Mr. Hall sought to use a terrorizing threat to intimidate an elected leader he disagreed with. Hall’s threats to me and my colleagues were fuel thrown on an already raging fire in America and should be viewed in that context as the Court decides the appropriate sentence.”

Swalwell said that Hall’s threats forced the congressman’s family to change the way they live, and were felt deeply among his staffers.

“[W]hile I have the luxury of working in a somewhat secure building, my family and I do not live in a secure home,” the statement said. “This threat changed the habits of my family. We are more careful about having our kids in our front yard. I have to use hard-earned campaign funds to pay for a security detail when I travel out of state. These threats change daily habits and make life less comfortable and more worrisome.”

“But even worse, I was not the first person to receive Hall’s threat,” the statement continued. “An intern heard it first. And it doesn’t take many hops in logic for the intern to conclude that she and her colleagues are also in danger. We work in a public building. The interns sit at the desk closest to the front door of our office. If an armed intruder brought harm to our office, it’s likely the intern would suffer death first.”

“Mr. Hall is not worthy of mercy for the terror he brought to me, my family, and my staff,” the final sentence of the statement read. “Mr. Hall should receive the maximum sentence.”

Swalwell’s office did not immediately respond to Law&Crime’s request for comment on Hall’s sentence.

[Image of Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) via YouTube screengrab.]

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