A federal judge scolded a Michigan man present at the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot and said he can’t call “for a war” over the results of the 2020 presidential election that certified Donald Trump‘s loss to President Joe Biden, the Associated Press reported.
U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson sentenced Karl Dresch, from Calumet to time served on Wednesday after he served the maximum sentence, six months, in prison for participating in the mob that stormed the Capitol. Dresch is to be released from jail after initially pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge following his arrest in January. Jackson said she believed the charge was fitting since his “actions didn’t match his rhetoric,” because he did not injure anyone or damage property on Jan. 6.
Still, she ridiculed Dresch for his views on the election, calling them “misguided.”
“Your vote doesn’t count any more than anyone else’s. You don’t get to cancel them out and call for a war because you don’t like the results of the election,” Jackson said to Dresch.
For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.
Jackson assailed the false claims of election fraud pushed by Trump and his supporters and said Dresch “placed his trust in someone who repaid that trust by lying to him.”
Jackson told Dresch, from the Upper Peninsula, that he was an “enthusiastic participant” in an effort to subvert the will of the voters. But the judge said a deal with prosecutors allowing him to plead guilty to a misdemeanor was appropriate because his “actions didn’t match his rhetoric.”
His attorney, Jerry Ray Smith Jr., said, “I’m going to be happy to send him home” and declined additional comment.
Later Wednesday, two other Jan. 6 defendants—a Virginia couple who likewise pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges—were also sentenced, and avoided jail time. Jessica Bustle was ordered to serve two months in home confinement and her husband Joshua Bustle received one month home confinement. They will each serve two years of probation.
The three are among more than 500 people charged in the riot that sent lawmakers into hiding and disrupted the certification of Biden’s election win. About thirty defendants have pleaded guilty, mostly to misdemeanor charges. The first defendant sentenced for a felony—a Florida man who breached the Senate chamber while carrying a Trump campaign flag—received eight months behind bars.
Dresch posted pictures and videos on social media that were taken inside the Capitol on Jan. 6, which he described in one message as the “best day ever,” according to court documents. The day after the riot, he wrote of the then-vice president: “Mike Pence gave our country to the communist hordes, traitor scum like the rest of them, we have your back give the word and we will be back even stronger.”
Jackson noted that judge after judge smacked down the former president’s claims of election fraud. She also took a swipe at Republicans who’ve tried to downplay the violence on Jan. 6—including one lawmaker who suggested that video of the rioters looked like a “tourist visit”—calling Dresch “not your typical tourist.”
“At the end of the day, the fact is that the defendant came to the Capitol because he placed his trust in someone who repaid that trust by lying to him,” the judge said.
In another hearing, lawyers for Joshua and Jessica Bustle, of Bristow, Virginia, argued that their punishments should be no different than the first Jan. 6 defendant to be sentenced, who received only probation for a misdemeanor offense. The Bustles admitted to entering the Capitol through a door that had been breached by other rioters and staying inside for about 20 minutes.
Their lawyers noted that they didn’t engage in any violence and said their clients have already faced consequences as a result of their actions. Joshua Bustle’s attorney, Timothy Anderson, said he lost his job and the couple is moving from Virginia to North Carolina to start over.
“They have lost everything in the court of public opinion,” Anderson said.
Jessica Bustle posted a picture of herself on Facebook before the riot with the caption: “We don’t win this thing sitting on the sidelines. Excited to stand for truth with my fellow patriots and freedom fighters in DC today.” Afterward, she wrote that “Pence is a traitor.”
U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan said he had “seriously considered” putting Jessica Bustle in jail, citing her Facebook comments. But he ultimately decided against incarceration, describing her as remorseful.