By Katelyn Polantz, CNN Reporter, Crime and Justice
Federal prosecutors have indicted a trio of alleged US Capitol rioters — including one who is accused of assaulting DC police officer Michael Fanone — for planning to be violent together on January 6, according to court records and a Justice Department statement on Monday.
One defendant, Edward Badalian, a 26-year-old from California, allegedly wrote to his co-defendants “We need to violently remove traitors and if they are in key positions rapidly replace them with able bodied Patriots,” according to the indictment.
“We don’t want to fight antifa lol we want to arrest traitors,” he also wrote.
The group communicated on Telegram under the name “Patriots 45 MAGA Gang,” prosecutors said, riffing about their anger toward officials who supported the 2020 election result and gloating about the violence of the siege. They also attended pro-Trump and anti-coronavirus mask mandate rallies in Southern California, prosecutors said.
Before January 6, they collected weapons and gear, including a stun gun, pepper spray, gas masks and walkie-talkies, and traveled together to the January 6 Stop the Steal rallies, according to the Justice Department. The day before the riot, they “joined a caravan” in Kentucky headed toward DC, setting up a radio app on cellphones so the caravan could communicate, the indictment said.
Badalian and another defendant, Daniel Joseph Rodriguez, “used the Patriots 45 group chat as a platform to advocate violence against certain groups and individuals that either supported the 2020 presidential election results, supported what the group perceived as liberal, or communist ideologies, or held positions of authority in the government,” prosecutors wrote.
The prosecutors noted that Badalian told another person he wanted to assassinate Joe Biden.
Rodriguez and Badalian have both pleaded not guilty. Rodriguez remains in jail awaiting trial, while Badalian is released on personal recognizance, according to DC District Court records.
The third defendant’s name is still under seal. The third defendant, on January 6 at the Ellipse, asked another person via text to “roll in force” with the group and texted at almost 2 p.m. “the battle has begun,” the indictment said.
The unnamed defendant and Rodriguez then scuffled with police at entryways to the Capitol with Rodriguez hurling a flagpole and discharging a fire extinguisher and the unnamed defendant telling officers “liberty or death, gentlemen!” according to the indictment. The trio united in a congressional office suite, with two of them rifling through bags and papers after Rodriguez announced they should look for “intel.” He allegedly stole an emergency escape hood from a bag in the office.
This is a notable new conspiracy case in the January 6 dragnet, which has arrested nearly 700 federal defendants. The Justice Department has already pursued several high-profile groups of defendants including members of the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers for allegedly planning or coordinating their participation in the riot. The conspiracy cases and the police assault cases are some of the most serious allegations against January 6 riot participants, and the indictment related to the “Patriots 45 MAGA Gang” group combines both of those types of charges.
Some of the new details in the case appear to emerge out of the cooperation of another January 6 defendant, who is not named in the indictment — indicating how the Justice Department’s investigation has gathered steam as more defendants are arrested and cut plea deals.
In the latest court filings, prosecutors even piece together conversations the group had after January 6. On their drive back from Washington, DC, to California after the riot, Badalian appeared on the far-right call-in show “War Room” on InfoWars, using the pseudonym “Turbo,” prosecutors say.
The Justice Department charged has previously charged Rodriguez with using a stun gun on DC Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone. Fanone has been an outspoken voice among police injured by the pro-Trump attackers.
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