Trump defends Capitol rioters saying they posed ‘zero threat’

Former police officer who texted ‘we stormed the Capitol’ arrested

Michael Lee Hardin of Salt Lake City texted photo of himself smiling next to Abraham Lincoln statue, Justice Department records show

Alex Woodward
New York
Sunday 04 April 2021 21:34
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A former Salt Lake City police officer was arrested after federal law enforcement discovered he allegedly sent text messages admitting he “stormed” the US Capitol on 6 January and posed for a photograph next to a bust of Abraham Lincoln, according to federal filings.

Michael Lee Hardin joined a crowd of people who breached the Capitol during a joint session of Congress, texted his location to friends and family, and claimed former president Donald Trump “is the rightful president”, according to federal prosecutors.

Mr Hardin, a 20-year officer who retired from the force in 2017, appeared in a virtual federal hearing on Friday.

He has been charged with unlawful entry, disorderly and disruptive conduct, and disorderly conduct and “parading, demonstrating or picketing” inside the Capitol building, according to a criminal complaint filed on 1 April.

According to Justice Department filings relying on tips from two people connected to him, Mr Hardin texted several messages after joining the Capitol mob:

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“We stormed the Capitol, I am in here now!”

“I know you don’t like Trump, but He is the rightful President!”

“We will return until we win!”

He also sent out a photo of himself smiling while standing next to a bust of former president Lincoln inside the Capitol Crypt, documents show.

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Federal authorities also obtained his location data through a search warrant served on Google, revealing that a mobile device associated with his email address was present at the Capitol on 6 January, records show.

The FBI and Utah State Bureau of Investigations coordinated his arrest.

He is among more than a dozen current and former law enforcement officers who were arrested and charged in connection with the Capitol insurrection, fuelled by the former president’s big lie of a “stolen” election in an attempt to threaten lawmakers and prevent certification of the votes for Joe Biden.

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