NewsNation Now producer Alex Rhoades was there as ICED EARTH guitarist Jon Schaffer emerged from a Washington, D.C. federal court on Friday, April 16 after pleading guilty for his role in the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. As part of the plea deal, he has entered into a cooperation agreement with the government.
In the one-minute video below, Schaffer can be seen exiting the courthouse and being greeted by an unidentified woman before the couple is seen walking away while ignoring questions from Rhoades.
Although Schaffer was initially charged with six crimes, including engaging in an act of physical violence and targeting police with bear spray, he pleaded guilty to only two charges: obstruction of an official proceeding of Congress; and trespassing on restricted grounds of the Capitol while armed with a deadly or dangerous weapon. The first charge is punishable by up to 20 years in prison, while the second carries up to a 10-year prison term.
According to CNN, prosecutors and Schaffer's attorneys agreed to recommend that he get between three and a half and four and a half years in prison, based on how fruitful his cooperation is with the government.
The government agreed not to oppose Schaffer's release during the sentencing phase.
Schaffer's attorney, Marc Victor, asked the judge for his client to be released with no travel restrictions, saying that while he lives in Indiana, he has family he cares for in Florida and his legal team is in Arizona. He also noted that Schaffer is an "internationally known musician and recording artist."
"He is the first person to plead guilty in this historic investigation to take responsibility for his role in the Capitol riot," Victor said. "He contacted authorities as soon as he discovered he was a person of interest, and he self surrendered."
After pleading guilty, Schaffer was released on the following conditions:
* Schaffer must submit to court supervision in the Northem Dlstrict of Indiana.
* Schaffer will surrender his passport and any other international travel documents.
* Must stay outside of D.C. except for court hearings and meetings with attorneys.
* Will be permitted to travel within the continental United States with notice to pretrial services.
* Schaffer cannot possess any firearms or explosive devices, including legally owned firearms. Any firearms must be removed from his home.
In his plea agreement, Schaffer acknowledged that on January 6, 2021 he was in Washington to attend the "Stop The Steal" rally at the Ellipse in Washington, D.C. to protest the results of the presidential election, which he believed were fraudulent. Schaffer wore a tactical vest and carried bear spray, a dangerous weapon and chemical irritant used to ward off bears. When the rally finished, Schaffer joined a large crowd that marched from the Ellipse to the Capitol, where a joint session of Congress, presided over by Vice President Michael Pence, was in session to certify the electoral college vote results. Shortly after 2:00 p.m., members of the mob forced entry into the Capitol building, disrupting the joint session and causing members of Congress and the Vice President to be evacuated from the House and Senate chambers.
In his plea agreement, Schaffer admitted that after arriving on Capitol grounds, he walked past barriers intended to restrict access to the public and to a set of locked doors on the Capitol's west side. At approximately 2:40 p.m., Schaffer positioned himself at the front of a crowd that broke open a set of doors being guarded by four U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) officers wearing riot gear. Schaffer admitted to being among the first individuals to push past the damaged doors and into the Capitol building, forcing officers to retreat. Schaffer and others advanced toward five or six backpedaling USCP officers while members of the mob swelled inside of the Capitol and overwhelmed the officers. The officers ultimately deployed a chemical irritant to disperse the mob. Schaffer was among the people who were sprayed in the face, after which he exited while holding his own bear spray in his hands.
As part of the plea deal, Schaffer agreed to cooperate with investigators and potentially testify in related criminal cases, according to CNN. In return for Schaffer's assistance, the Justice Department might later urge the judge to show leniency during his sentencing.
As part of the agreement, the Justice Department has offered to sponsor Schaffer for the witness protection program.
The 53-year-old musician is the first Capitol riot defendant to reach a plea deal.
The Indiana chapter of the Oath Keepers distanced itself from Schaffer after his arrest, claiming he was not a member of the local group. But the national organization, which sells lifetime memberships for $1,200, has not commented on his alleged affiliation with the group.
At a November 2020 Donald Trump rally in Washington, D.C., Schaffer was videotaped walking behind a Florida couple, Kelly Meggs and Connie Meggs, who are accused of being among 10 members of the Oath Keepers to have played a leading role in the Capitol assault. According to federal authorities, Kelly and Connie Meggs plotted for weeks ahead of the attack, attended training sessions and recruited others. Kelly Meggs is the 52-year-old head of the Oath Keepers' chapter in Florida.
EXCLUSIVE VIDEO- NewsNation Now producer Alex Rhoades was there as Jon Schaffer emerged from a DC Federal Court.
Schaffer is the first Jan. 6th rioter charged to plead guilty and cooperate with federal prosecutors.
Posted by Joe Khalil on Friday, April 16, 2021