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Indicted Three Percenter fights to toss top charge, joining trend of Capitol rioters

Their argument rests on the claim that the election certification ceremony waylaid by the Jan. 6 riot was not an “official proceeding." 

WASHINGTON (CN) — A Three Percenter who brought guns to the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 is joining a growing number of rioters seeking to get their felony obstruction charges thrown out. 

The charge against Guy Reffitt is linked to the joint session of Congress that was underway, and had to be rescheduled, when supporters of former President Donald Trump stormed the halls of government on Jan. 6, calling for the heads of officials like Speaker Nancy Pelosi and then-President Mike Pence.

A felony, the charge is punishable by a maximum of 20 years in prison. Reffitt argued in court Friday, however, that the count should be dismissed on the basis that the ceremony to certify the election results did not qualify as an “official proceeding.”

Reffitt's motion to dismiss traces the steps of several rioters before him. In September, more than a dozen Oath Keepers in the largest and most complex Capitol riot case thus far claimed that official proceedings are anything that is judicial or quasi judicial and involves witnesses and testimonies. Proceedings that lack witnesses and testimonies — like the certification of the election results — are is not official, they claim. 

Later in the month, a group of Proud Boys brought a similar motion, claiming that the certification was “largely ceremonial” rather than investigative in nature. 

Neither U.S. District Judge Amita Mehta, who presides over the Oath Keepers case, nor U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly, who presides over the Proud Boys, has ruled on the motions. 

On Friday, Reffitt’s attorney William Welch made similar arguments to U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich, asserting that the certification was largely “ministerial,” because Congress doesn’t even have the power to reject certified electoral votes. 

Welch also argued that the Capitol rioters didn’t disrupt the joint session of Congress because the session was already suspended while lawmakers were considering the objection to the Arizona vote. 

“Mr. Welch, you can’t plausibly argue that this official proceeding was not delayed because of the actions on Jan. 6,” Friedrich said, also rejecting the argument that Reffitt wasn’t trying to disrupt the session.

“What was he doing, if he wasn’t trying to delay the vote?” Friedrich, a Trump appointee, asked. “Why was he trying to get into the Capitol? To sightsee?” Welch responded that Reffitt was there to protest. 

The charging papers against Reffitt, 49, state that he returned home from Washington with a pistol and an AR-15 rifle, telling his children: “If you turn me in, you’re a traitor and you know what happens to traitors… traitors get shot.”

Reffitt belongs to the a militia extremist group called Texas Freedom Force as well as the Three Percenters. After the riot, he joined a two-hour videoconference with the militia, in which he said: “Well I’m not done till we drag them out screaming and kicking. I don’t care if Pelosi’s head is hitting every step while I drag her by her ankles — she’s coming out.”

Friedrich already rejected Reffitt’s motion to have his case transferred to the Eastern District of Texas.

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