When rioters stormed the Capitol on Wednesday, it was a last-ditch effort by a literal mob of extremists to overturn the election results and install Donald Trump for a second presidential term. But in addition to small-bore white supremacists and far-right goons were bona fide Republican elected officials, including at least one who has since been charged with a crime.
Derrick Evans, a newly-elected West Virginia state delegate, was charged on Friday for illegally entering a restricted area after he filmed himself inside the Capitol building. Evans rose to prominence as a notorious antagonist of an abortion clinic, where he used to live-stream himself and other anti-choice activists, including one who allegedly threatened on Evans’ stream to bring a gun to the clinic.
Evans’ love of live streaming appears to have come back to bite him, after he live streamed himself apparently trespassing in the Capitol. “Trump, Trump, Trump!” he chanted as attackers rushed the doors. Though he later deleted the stream, it was re-uploaded by activists.
Some of his comments on the video might aid prosecutors. “Derrick Evans is in the Capitol!” he announced when he entered the building.
His lawyer contends that Evans “committed no criminal act that day.” The lawyer told The Daily Beast on Friday that he had not yet seen the criminal complaint.
Evans wasn’t the only elected Republican on or near the Capitol grounds. Amanda Chase, a state senator and gubernatorial candidate from Virginia, posted photos and videos from the rally preceding the ransacking of the seat of the U.S. government. Also on hand was Doug Mastriano, a Pennsylvania state senator who helped charter a bus for attendees of the event.
Neither appears to have taken part in the violent attack on the building.
Wednesday’s attack—current death count, five—has seen some Republicans take a step back from Trump, with members of his cabinet resigning. But these elected officials who attended the riot or its precursor rally, which included a speech by the president, have tied their reputations to Trump and his movement, building support from the most militant corners of his base.
It’s hard to imagine any of them beating a retreat any time soon.
Chase, a Virginia Republican with extensive ties to extremists, hyped the rally in advance.
“Just arrived in DC and talking to organizer for tomorrow’s rally,” she captioned a Jan. 5 Facebook live video.
In the video, she sat alongside a motley assortment of far-right types. Among them was Stewart Rhodes, leader of the militia group the Oath Keepers. Shortly after Trump’s election loss in November, Rhodes went on Infowars to claim his militia was ready to storm D.C. in defense of Trump, and that the only way to avoid a “bloody fight” would be for Trump to declassify information about the “deep state” that would allow Trump to remain president.
Also in the video with Chase was Bianca Gracia, head of the PAC “Latinos for Trump.” Multiple members of that PAC’s leadership include leaders of the far-right paramilitary group the Proud Boys, including the Proud Boys’ chair, Enrique Tarrio. (Tarrio egged on the Wednesday riot from social media, although he was barred from attending due to a recent arrest for allegedly burning a flag from a Black church and carrying high-capacity gun magazines.)
Yet another figure sitting alongside Chase in the video was Joshua Macias, one of Chase’s bodyguards, who was arrested in November after he and another one of Chase’s bodyguards allegedly drove with an AR-15 to a Philadelphia vote-counting location. (The men, who allegedly believed the election was being stolen from Trump, drove in a Hummer with a QAnon decal.)
Although Chase does not appear to have entered the Capitol, she later made a Facebook video calling those intruders “patriots” who had “no other options.” In a now-deleted post, she stated that “these were not rioters and looters; these were Patriots who love their country.”
Despite lauding the Capitol attackers, she also shared a hoax that falsely claimed anti-fascists had disguised themselves as Trump supporters for the attack. She went on to denounce Republicans who had distanced themselves from the riot. “The revolution begins now. Patriots, it’s time to step up,” she wrote.
Chase was subsequently suspended from Facebook for 60 days. A spokesperson did not immediately return a request for comment, and attempts to reach Rhodes, Gracia, and Macias were not immediately successful.
Doug Mastriano, a state senator from Pennsylvania, was also present at a rally that preceded the attack on the Capitol. Mastriano, who was a speaker at the rally, has built a fan base among the “re-open” movement, which calls on states to forgo COVID-related closures. Mastriano is the administrator of a massive network of Facebook pages that assail COVID-19 measures, researcher Erin Gallagher noted earlier this year. In at least one Facebook Live video this week, he spoke in front of an “Appeal To Heaven” flag, a banner that first appeared during the Revolutionary War, but has since been taken up by far-right and eco-fascist actors.
Mastriano helped drive Trump supporters to the rally this week, advertising a charter bus to the event. ($25 per adult, $10 per child.) Members of Pennsylvania’s legislature have since called for his resignation.
Mastriano claims he was not involved in the destruction that stemmed from the rally.
“When it was apparent that this was no longer a peaceful protest, my wife and I left the area and made our way out of the area,” he said in a statement. “At no point did we enter the Capitol building, walk on the Capitol steps or go beyond police lines.”
Elected Republicans Derrick Evans, Amanda Chase, and Doug Mastriano Were at ‘Protest’ That Became Riot The British Journal Editors and Wire Services/ The Daily Beast.