The New York man who was memorably seen rifling through papers in the Senate chamber on Jan. 6 — insisting that there must be evidence in the papers that Donald Trump supporters could “use against” lawmakers voting to certify Joe Biden’s electoral win — will spend almost two years behind bars.
Christopher Patrick Moynihan, 32, of Salt Point, was sentenced Wednesday to 21 months in prison, the Justice Department announced in a press release. He was convicted in August of obstructing an official proceeding of Congress, which carried a potential 20-year prison sentence, as well as five misdemeanors of trespass and disorderly conduct that had a combined maximum of 3 1/2 years behind bars.
U.S. District Judge Christopher R. Cooper, a Barack Obama appointee, convicted Moynihan after a stipulated trial, in which the defendant and prosecutors agreed to a specific set of facts that formed the basis of the conviction.
According to that agreed-upon set of facts, Moynihan was among a group of rioters who broke through a security perimeter on the east side of the Capitol building. He entered the building at around 2:40 p.m., almost 30 minutes after the initial breach by riotous Trump supporters angry over Biden winning the 2020 presidential election. The crowd had descended on the Capitol building as Congress had begun to certify Biden’s victory, forcing lawmakers and staffers to either flee or shelter in place for hours.
By 2:45 p.m., Moynihan was inside the Senate Gallery, which had been evacuated just moments earlier. He is seen approaching a senator’s desk and quickly rifling through a notebook. He removes papers and takes pictures with his cell phone.
“There’s gotta be something in here we can f—-ng use against these scumbags,” Moynihan said as he pawed through the papers.
Luke Mogelson, a veteran war correspondent, followed the rioters inside the Capitol on Jan 6. and captured the clearest video of what was happening inside that we’ve seen so far https://t.co/I9t8yC1x9i pic.twitter.com/deLvtRG3RX
— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) January 17, 2021
Jacob Chansley, the so-called “QAnon shaman” who pleaded guilty to the same obstruction charge and was sentenced to more than three years in prison, is also in the video, chanting and screaming while brandishing an American flag.
Prosecutors had asked Cooper to sentence Moynihan to more than three years in prison.
“Moynihan watched as rioters attacked police trying to defend the [Rotunda] door, and continued pushing his way forward,” the government’s sentencing memo said. “Moynihan also occupied the dais of the Senate, joining other rioters in shouts and chanting. Moynihan did not leave the Senate Chamber until he was forced out by police.”
Lawyers for Moynihan argued that he should be sentenced to one year plus one day in prison.
“He entered the Capitol with a large crowd of people, walked through the halls chanting along with others in the crowd, and walked into the Senate chamber,” defense attorney A.J. Kramer wrote in Moynihan’s brief. “There, he looked through papers on a Senator’s desk, taking video with his phone.”
Kramer added that Moynihan’s “scumbags” line was something his client “said to himself[.]”
In addition to the prison time, Cooper also imposed three years of supervised release and $2,000 in restitution toward the estimated $2.8 million dollars in damage to the Capitol and costs to Capitol police.
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