The arrest last month by the FBI of “revolutionary” activist John Earle Sullivan shattered the narrative that the Antifa movement that was responsible for rioting across America in 2020 had nothing to do with the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.
Sullivan, the founder of a group called Insurgence USA, already was facing rioting and criminal mischief charges before he was briefly taken into custody for the Washington mayhem. At a late-August event in Washington, he’s seen on video telling a crowd: “We about to burn this s*** down. We got to rip Trump out of office.” At the Capitol on Jan. 6, he allegedly urged rioters to climb over a wall and admitted breaking a Capitol window.
Now the Washington Examiner reports Sullivan claims to have been paid tens of thousands of dollars by CNN and NBC for footage of the riots.
A video from the 25-year-old Sandy, Utah, resident, the Examiner said, showed him “following and encouraging Trump supporters from the entrance of the Capitol all the way to the moment when 35-year-old Ashli Babbitt, an Air Force veteran and Trump supporter who attempted to climb through a window into the Speaker’s Lobby, was shot and killed by a Capitol Police officer.”
Sullivan was indicted on felonies related to obstructing Congress’ effort to certify the Electoral College results.
Sullivan’s lawyer, Steven Kiersh, argued this week in court that his client was a journalist and not an agent provocateur. The attorney submitted to the court invoices purportedly from the broadcast outlets documenting a $35,000 payment to Sullivan from CNN and a $35,000 payment from NBC Universal Media for use of the video.
There also was a $2,375 payment from the Australian Broadcasting Corp.
“Insurgence USA is not deemed to have been involved in any criminal activity,” the lawyer said. “Defendant is legitimately self-employed as a documentarian and it is oppressive to require that he not be allowed to continue his primary area of employment for an extended period of time.”
Kiersh continued: “The government is seeking to limit his use of the internet and to expressly prohibit him from using the following: Twitter, Facebook, encrypted platforms. The requests by the United States to limit defendant’s ability to communicate the way the vast majority of Americans communicate is oppressive, overbroad, and unconstitutional. The government’s request for limitations on defendant’s right to use social media is not reasonably related to the crimes for which he has been indicted.”
The DOJ alleged Sullivan violated a judge’s conditions of release by accessing his social media accounts and buying a new phone, appearing on a podcast to discuss his actions and encouraging people to follow his group.
Magistrate Judge Robin Meriweather ruled on Tuesday that while the DOJ could not jail him pending trial and could not ban him entirely from social media, Sullivan must disassociate himself from Insurgence USA.
“Insurgence USA is absolutely the instrumentality through which Mr. Sullivan committed the relevant acts,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Candice Wong said. “It is Mr. Sullivan’s reason for being there and for his criminal participation in the riot.”
She charged Sullivan “under the guise of journalism … is engaged in and incited violent activity.”
Investigators confirmed Sullivan held no press credentials.
Sullivan was on video approaching a crowd at the Capitol and saying: “Let’s go! This s*** is ours! … Let’s burn this s*** down.” He also is seen joining a crowd trying to open doors and saying, “I have a knife – let me up.”
The DOJ charged that he “positioned himself with a front seat to not one, but multiple confrontations with officers at multiple locations, and made consistently gleeful exhortations about burning and breaking things.”
Sullivan’s website states: “We are on the frontlines, giving you unedited raw footage, photos, and news of the insurrection here in America. Revealing the truth about Antifa and BLM’s communist plans to overthrow democracy. Exposing the sinister motives of Proud Boys and Right-Wing militias as they plot to topple the government. Welcome to the revolution.”
The Daily Caller News Foundation reported Sullivan also was paid $5,000 by a company called Left/Right Productions.
That report said conservatives “have cited his presence at the riots as evidence that left-wing activists played a large role in instigating the Capitol breach.”
See video of Sullivan being detained by police Jan. 9 (he was later released), following by his remarks in August in Washington, D.C.:
While Sullivan insisted he was in the Capitol building merely as a passive observer to “document” the chaos, the DOJ presented video evidence of him inciting rioters to climb over a wall, admitting to breaking a window, and celebrating with a photo journalist the fact he and his allies had successfully sowed violent chaos in the U.S. Capitol that would be blamed on Trump supporters.
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