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Months Ago, an Ex-Salt Lake City Police Officer Was Charged for Storming the U.S. Capitol. Now, the Feds Charged His Stepmother-in-Law.


Janet Buhler

Janet Buhler’s day off has landed her in hot legal water.

Some four months ago in April, federal prosecutors announced the arrest of a former Salt Lake City police “officer of the year” accused of triumphantly texting his friends that “We stormed the Capitol” and proclaimed Donald Trump the “rightful President” of the election he lost.

Now, prosecutors have arrested his stepmother-in-law: Buhler.

In the FBI affidavit dated July 30 and updated on the DOJ’s Capitol breach case page on Thursday, Buhler can be seen inside the Capitol standing next to her stepson-in-law Michael Lee Hardin, the ex-officer. Neither of the relatives have been charged of the most serious offenses leveled in the wake of the Jan. 6th.

Prosecutors do not accuse either of assaulting law enforcement, unlike more than 150 others charged that day. Neither is said to be a member of an extremist or militant group.

In the reported parlance of Justice Department insiders, Buhler and Hardin’s charges appear to fall under what have become known as the “tourist cases.” NPR reported that the nickname derived Rep. Andrew Clyde’s (R-Ga.) widely criticized remark about the assault on the Capitol: “If you didn’t know the TV footage was a video from Jan. 6, you would actually think it was a normal tourist visit.”

The FBI affidavit shows Buhler doing little more than being seen in surveillance footage entering the Senate gallery.

Janet Buhler surveillance

This screenshot of surveillance footage inside the U.S. Capitol is embedded in an FBI affidavit supporting charges against Janet Buhler.

Authorities say that one of the same tipsters brought down both Buhler and Hardin.

Identified in both criminal complaints as “T-2,” the tipster is the same one described as a “close acquaintance” of Hardin’s “for over twenty years.”

“T-2 confirmed to your affiant that Hardin was inside the U.S. Capitol building on January 6, 2021, and provided your affiant with a photograph of Hardin standing aside a bust of Abraham Lincoln inside what appears to be the Capitol Crypt,” a charging document says.

Michael Lee Hardin

This is the same tipster who alerted the FBI about the family connection between the two.

Authorities claim they also confirmed Buhler’s identity from another tipster, T-1, who said he identified her from a Deseret News article.

Though many others charged in the breach of the U.S. Capitol implicated themselves on social media, Buhler’s Facebook page—cited in the FBI affidavit—appears to be apolitical as of today. The Facebook photograph of her embedded in the FBI affidavit, posing with her hand on a dress form appearing to display a newly sewn outfit, no longer appears to be on her account.

Buehler Facebook

Janet Buhler’s Facebook photo, as displayed in charging documents

Prosecutors cite Buhler’s social media trail mainly to confirm her identity, as the account is registered to a phone number traced to the Capitol.

According to the affidavit, AT&T records show Buhler’s phone number has been “identified as having utilized a cell site consistent with providing service to a geographic area that includes the interior of the United States Capitol building.”

Buhler has been charged with knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority; disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds; entering and remaining in the gallery of Congress; disorderly conduct in a Capitol building; and parading, demonstrating, or picketing in a Capitol building. Those charges are similar to the ones Hardin is facing.

Read the charges below:

(Photos via DOJ)

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Law&Crime's managing editor Adam Klasfeld has spent more than a decade on the legal beat. Previously a reporter for Courthouse News, he has appeared as a guest on NewsNation, NBC, MSNBC, CBS's "Inside Edition," BBC, NPR, PBS, Sky News, and other networks. His reporting on the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell was featured on the Starz and Channel 4 documentary "Who Is Ghislaine Maxwell?" He is the host of Law&Crime podcast "Objections: with Adam Klasfeld."