A Brooklyn rioter who appeared on a far-right streamer’s video during the attack on the U.S. Capitol is the recipient of a call from a White House landline on Jan. 6, 2021, CNN reported on Monday.
In May 2021, authorities charged Anton Lunyk with federal crimes after a college classmate spotted him a New York Post tweet, which was taken from a still frame of a video by far-right streamer and former BuzzFeed employee Anthime “Tim” Gionet, better known for racist, antisemitic and white supremacist broadcasts under the name “Baked Alaska.”
The Post tweet called attention to Gionet storming the Capitol after testing positive for COVID-19. Lunik, wearing a red MAGA hat and a hoodie, smiled broadly as he photo-bombed the livestream right behind Gionet.
Initially charged with two offenses, Lunyk ultimately pleaded guilty to four misdemeanors: entering and remaining inside a restricted building, disorderly and disruptive conduct inside a restricted building, violent entry and disorderly conduct inside a Capitol building, and parading, demonstrating or picketing inside a Capitol building.
Earlier this month on Sept. 15, U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras sentenced Lunyk to one year of probation, two months of home confinement and financial penalties.
During their roughly 10-minute stint inside the Capitol, Lunyk and two of his friends entered the office of Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.). One of his co-defendants, Francis Connor, looked through Merkley’s papers. Lunyk, Connor and Antonio Ferrigno spent the months before the attack on the Capitol exchanging messages pining for civil war or violence, court records show.
“[W]e’re going to be at the epicenter of the civil war,” Lunyk wrote on Nov. 10, 2020, according to his statement of offense.
Lunyk acknowledged in his guilty plea that he entered the building around 3:08 p.m. through the Senate Wing Door on the west side of the building and exited through a broken window at 3:18 p.m. According to CNN, Lunyk received a phone call on his cell phone from a White House landline at 4:34 p.m. — in a conversation that lasted nine seconds. The phone call was reportedly placed minutes after former President Donald Trump posted a video on Twitter telling his riotous mob of supporters “go home, we love you, you’re very special,” posted at 4:17 p.m.
Former Rep. Denver Riggleman (R-Va.), a former U.S. Air Force intelligence officer, disclosed the existence of the phone call during an interview on 60 Minutes. It is unclear what, if anything, was communicated during the phone call, whether the number was intentionally dialed, or if it went to voicemail. Member of the Jan. 6th Committee played down the phone call during interviews. Court papers do not allude to the conversation.
In a sentencing memo, however, Lunyk’s federal prosecutors in D.C. said that the rioter proved helpful in an investigation by their New York counterparts.
“However, during the pendency of this case, Lunyk served as a witness in a federal investigation in the Southern District of New York,” prosecutors wrote. “Lunyk provided information that the investigative team found credible and useful. The government credits Lunyk’s assistance and has reduced its sentencing recommendation relative to Lunyk’s co-defendants accordingly.”
Lunyk’s attorney did not immediately respond to Law&Crime’s email requesting comment.
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