A district judge said on Friday that defendants in Jan. 6 cases who push the conspiracy theory that the election was stolen are inciting threats to judges presiding over insurrection cases.
D.C. District Judge Reggie B. Walton said that he and other judges involved in Jan. 6 trials “are getting all kinds of threats and hostile phone calls” from people who “buy in on this proposition … that somehow the election was fraudulent,” according to CNN.
Walton was speaking at the sentencing hearing of Lori and Thomas Vinson, a husband and wife from Kentucky who entered the Capitol during the attack. They were caught when multiple people identified the couple in photos and videos from Jan. 6 and sent the FBI screenshots of Lori’s Facebook posts, which included selfies she took inside the Capitol. Lori claimed in a Facebook comment that she was one of the first 100 Trump supporters to gain entry into the building, according to the criminal complaint.
But Lori didn’t just post about Jan. 6 on social media. She also appeared in television interviews bragging about her involvement. “I hope [Jan. 6] is something I remember and say ‘I’m glad I was a part of that’ 30 years from now,” Vinson told a local news station in Evansville, Ind. She added that she was “not sorry” for what she did and “would do it again tomorrow.”
Walton was not amused. “It bothers me that she would try to associate herself with that type of violence … and then she goes on television on two occasions and is proud of what she did, and says she would do it again,” he said.
The judge continued: “I know that these types of comments have an impact. As judges, we’re getting all kinds of threats and hostile phone calls when we have [Jan. 6] cases before us, because there are unfortunately other people out there who buy in on this proposition, even though there was no proof, that somehow the election was fraudulent.”
Both Lori and Thomas Vinson pleaded guilty to a class B misdemeanor, one count of parading, demonstrating, or picketing inside a Capitol building. Walton explained that he decided not to imprison Lori as prosecutors had requested because of “additional costs imposed on taxpayers when somebody is detained.” Instead, the judge sentenced them to five years probation. Each must also pay a $5,000 fine and $500 in restitution, in addition to performing 120 hours of community service.
“What concerns me is that both of you were gullible enough that, based upon statements being made for which there was no proof to support the allegation [that the election was stolen], you all bought in on it — hook, line and sinker,” Walton told the Vinsons, according to The Louisville Courrier-Journal. “Took your money to come all the way up here to D.C. and then let yourselves get involved in a mob situation that should be an embarrassment to anybody in this country.”