A Pennsylvania woman who shared videos as she joined the mob of Donald Trump supporters breaching the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 and then posted that she needed to “scrub” her social media page has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor.
Kelly O’Brien, of North Whitehall, was arrested in August and charged with violent entry and disorderly conduct in a Capitol building, disorderly and disruptive conduct, entering and remaining in a restricted building, and parading, demonstrating, or picketing in a Capitol building.
She pleaded guilty Wednesday to the charge of entering and remaining in a restricted building. The charge carries a penalty of up to a year in prison.
After running through a series of questions to ensure O’Brien was aware of the consequences of pleading guilty, Senior U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth, a Ronald Reagan appointee, accepted O’Brien’s plea.
Federal investigators were able to identify O’Brien thanks in large part to the white jacket she wore before and during the Capitol breach.
According to the FBI’s statement of facts:
Surveillance video footage captured inside the Phoenix Park Hotel on January 6, 2020 showed a white female, matching O’BRIEN’s physical description enter the hotel lobby at approximately 9:01 a.m. carrying a gray backpack and wearing a white thigh length winter coat with a hood. On January 7, 2021, Phoenix Park Hotel front desk surveillance footage shows the same woman, wearing the exact same white coat and carrying the same gray backpack conduct a transaction at the desk and exit the hotel at approximately 8:59 a.m. Hotel records show O’BRIEN checked out of the hotel at approximately 9:01 a.m. on January 7, 2021.
Investigators then identified O’Brien on surveillance footage from inside the U.S. Capitol. She was wearing the same coat and carrying a gray backpack.
When the FBI executed a search warrant at O’Brien’s home in March, agents learned that the white jacket was at the house after Jan. 6, but it was apparently destroyed by an exploding can of bear spray:
On March 30, 2021, the FBI executed a search warrant at O’BRIEN’s residence. During the search, O’BRIEN’s husband advised that the white winter coat O’BRIEN was wearing on January 6, 2021 was hung in the main floor powder room with her purse, which contained a canister of bear spray/pepper spray. Apparently after January 6, 2021, the bear spray went off, contaminating the powder room and lower level of the house. The pepper oil of the spray was all over the walls in the powder room and ruined the white coat. O’BRIEN then threw the white coat away, and her husband repainted the powder room. An inspection of the powder room revealed orange stains on the window shade and door jam, confirming O’BRIEN’s husband’s recollection of the incident. O’BRIEN’s husband confirmed that the white coat O’BRIEN was wearing in a photograph from the Phoenix Park Hotel Lobby was the same white coat that she had thrown away following the bear spray incident. Pursuant to the search warrant, the FBI also located and seized the backpack that O’BRIEN was wearing at the Phoenix Hotel and at the U.S. Capitol.
The FBI also seized O’Brien’s phone that day, confirming that it was the same one she had with her at the Capitol on Jan. 6.
“Notably, there were no text messages before February, 2021 on O’BRIEN’s cellular telephone although the FBI was able to locate videos and photograph near the Capitol on January 6, 2021 on her cellular telephone,” the statement of facts said.
But a search of her Facebook history revealed social media posts indicating O’Brien’s willingness to go to great lengths to keep Trump in office.
On Nov. 6, she posted: “DO NOT GIVE UP THE GOOD FIGHT! Elections will not be stolen in this country. Not My Country. What it took to accomplish THE MIRACLE known as THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA is amazing. Fight for this. Fight for your freedom. Fight for future generations. It’s up to you. DO NOT GIVE UP! We will win this. Truth always prevails.”
On Nov. 8, she wrote: “STOP WATCHING CORPORATE MEDIA OUTLETS. AND YES, THIS INCLUDES FOX NEWS. There is so much information out there that validates Trump’s fraud claims and they rarely get reported by mainstream media, including Fox News. There are many, many reasons for this. But that’s for another day. Do not give up or give in. So many lawsuits are being filed on Monday and are going to The Supreme Court. The media doesn’t decide who our President is. We do … YOUR PRESIDENT IS FIGHTING FOR YOU! KEEP FIGHTING FOR HIM!”
In the aftermath of the 2020 election, Trump and his allies filed more than 60 cases alleging voter fraud. None of them succeeded.
On Nov. 20, 2020, O’Brien commented on a post from Nov. 5 stating: “The only difference is, 80 million and more of us will be there. And we will fight.”
On Nov. 21, 2020, O’Brien posted to a Facebook group dedicated to impeaching Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) that she “would rather die on my feet than live on my knees. PATRIOTS UNTIED [sic].”
On Nov. 25, O’Brien commented on a post from the day prior, and stated: “Don’t worry, Howie. The O’Brien armory is well stocked. Just in case. These idiot’s don’t even realize how hard it is to buy bullets. They’re gone. We ain’t worried. Lol.”
On Nov. 26, O’Brien replied to a comment on a post from Nov. 19, saying: “We do not riot. We fight. We are an Army of Patriots. You will know us when you see us. There will be no ambiguity. Prepare yourself.”
On Dec. 12, 2020, she “posted about being in Washington and being walked back to her hotel by the Proud Boys,” the statement of facts said. “On December 12, 2020, a pro-Trump rally occurred in D.C. and open source reporting indicates that the Proud Boys engaged in acts of violence in Washington, D.C. on or around December 12, 2020.”
O’Brien also posted from the Capitol on Jan. 6.
An FBI tipster identified by prosecutors only as Witness #1 told investigators that they saw multiple videos O’Brien posted to her Facebook page that appeared to show her “leading up to her entry into the U.S. Capitol.” This person, a Facebook friend of O’Brien, said that two videos appeared to be taken from the lawn in front of the Capitol, and a third showed her under the inauguration scaffolding, saying she was with the crowd and asking viewers to “pray for us.”
Also on Jan. 6, O’Brien seemed to hint in a Facebook post that she was in the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D).
“I’m out. I’m safe. Someone may have trashed a certain speaker of the houses office,” O’Brien wrote. “But I will never tell who.”
The tipster told investigators that on Jan. 7, O’Brien appeared to have tried to cover her tracks, while still insisting that Trump supporters were right to overrun police and attack the Capitol in order to stop the congressional count of Electoral College votes and block certification of Joe Biden’s win in the 2020 presidential election.
“Had to scrub my page, for obvious reasons,” O’Brien posted on Facebook, according to prosecutors. “Glad some were able to see the truth of what happened. This is why it’s os important you become part of the Revolution in our fight for freedom. You must see the lies yourself to truly understand what is going on. We are at a dangerous point in our country. You must pick a side. Good or evil. Have no fear. Trump will still be our president. Trust his plan. He plays 4D chess while they play checkers.”
O’Brien then pivoted and appeared to distance herself from the videos she posted.
“Please disregard/delete any video I shared previously from the capitol,” her post said. “Thank you. I make no claim. I shared it only.”
O’Brien’s sentencing is set for April 8, 2022.
[Images via FBI]
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