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Prominent MAGA influencer who spoke at ‘Stop the Steal’ pleads guilty to storming the Capitol

A self-described gay former liberal, Brandon Straka founded the #WalkAway campaign, urging Democrats to switch parties. 

WASHINGTON (CN) — Gay MAGA influencer and “Stop the Steal” speaker Brandon Straka pleaded guilty Wednesday to his role in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, facing up to six months in prison as part of a misdemeanor plea deal to disorderly conduct.

The former New York City hairstylist and native Nebraskan was arrested in January on multiple charges — including a felony for impeding law enforcement — after riling up the crowd during the failed insurrection by yelling at them to take away a police’s officer’s riot shield. 

In an 8-minute video recorded with his own hands, Straka yells: “We’re going in. They say we’re going in. We’re going in. We’re going in. The people are going in.” But, only feet away from a Capitol door, Straka never entered —  remaining outside as tear gas came out of the building. 

Straka had just come from speaking at Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally, during which he gave an impassioned speech that referenced the revolution and urged attendees to “fight back.”

“We are sending a message to the Democrats: We are not going away, you’ve got a problem!” Straka said at the rally. Straka is the only “Stop the Steal” speaker to be charged in connection with the Capitol riot thus far. 

After images of the violent riot and reports of the five deaths and countless injuries it caused led to renouncements by some conservatives, Straka sent mixed messages.

“Perhaps I missed the part where it was agreed this would be a revolution of ice cream cones & hair-braiding parties to take our government back from lying, cheating globally interested swamp parasites. My bad,” Straka would write on Twitter.

Later he posted a 58-minute video of himself in support of his claim that the failed insurrection had not been destructive.

Straka, 44, amassed fame and over a half-million Twitter followers through founding a campaign called #WalkAway, which urges longtime Democrats to leave their party. He makes regular appearances on right-wing media networks and in rallies across the country, speaking about why the Democratic Party drove him away. 

"Once upon a time, I was a liberal," Straka said in a now-viral 6-minute clip. "For years now, I have watched as the left has devolved into intolerant, inflexible, illogical, hateful, misguided, ill-informed, un-American, hypocritical, menacing, callous, ignorant, narrow-minded and, at times, blatantly fascistic behavior and rhetoric."

In June 2020, Straka was banned from American Airlines after he refused to wear a mask on the plane. 

Earlier on Wednesday, Israel Tutrow of Indiana pleaded guilty to one count of parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building. Tutrow admitted to having a knife on him in the Capitol. 

Domnick Madden, a sanitation worker from Brooklyn who wore a QAnon hoodie to the Capitol, also pleaded guilty Tuesday to unlawful picketing. 

Both Tutrow and Madden face up to six months in prison. 

Follow Samantha Hawkins on Twitter

Categories / Criminal, Media, Politics

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