The FBI is arresting FreedomWorks staffers for storming the Capitol on January 6

The FBI has arrested an employee of the conservative organization FreedomWorks in connection with the January 6 attack on the US Capitol, as rioters stormed the building in support of former President Donald Trump’s efforts to overthrow the results of the 2020 election.

Brandon Prenzlin, who until this week was a grassroots coordinator at FreedomWorks, was arrested in Arlington, Virginia, on September 17, according to an arrest warrant closed Thursday. He faces four offenses related to Jan. 6: knowingly entering or remaining in a restricted building or grounds without lawful authority; disorder and disruptive behavior in a restricted building or grounds; disorder on Capitol grounds; and parades, demonstrates or pickets in a Capitol building.

Peter Vicenzi, a spokesman for FreedomWorks, told HuffPost that the group fired Prenzlin on Monday and that the organization’s policy is not to comment on former employees.

That FBI statement describes Prenzlin’s alleged activities inside the Capitol on January 6 and shows how they were able to build a case against Prenzlin by quoting his presence on social media. Prenzlin has posed for photos with former Vice President Mike Pence as well as Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), who has spoken at the “Stop the Steal” events and was photographed with another 6th defendant facing more serious charges.

The FBI statement does not say so explicitly, but it does suggest that online gossip known as “Sedition Hunters” played a role in the case against Prenzlin. The vast community of open source investigators, often working under the hashtag #SeditionHunters, has been working to identify the hundreds of Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol on January 6th. Sedition Hunters website, where a photo of Prenzlin was marked as No. 640 on a list of “Sedition Insiders,” noted before Prenzlin’s arrest that he had been identified.

It is unclear when the identification was made, but a photo of Prenzlin included in a tweet from @SeditionHunters Twitter account revealed that Prenzlin had been identified in early July. It is about the same time, according to the statement, that the FBI investigation got under way thanks to a tip.

Prenzlin was arrested for his alleged actions in the US capital on January 6.


FBI

Prenzlin was arrested for his alleged actions in the US capital on January 6.

The FBI statement states that a federal law enforcement officer “conducted physical surveillance” at Washington National Airport on July 20, confirming that the man they saw on the plane “looked exactly” like a man who had been in the Capitol. In a photo of Prenzlin at the airport, he is wearing a FreedomWorks polo.

The suspect was wearing a FreedomWorks polo on surveillance footage.


FBI

The suspect was wearing a FreedomWorks polo on surveillance footage.

Prenzlin got a lawyer-appointed attorney after his arrest. This lawyer, H. Heather Shaner, has given his clients lessons in American history, as HuffPost reported in June.

In a video quoted in the FBI statement that Prenzlin posted on Twitter, the former FreedomWorks employee says he was outside Senator Joe Manchin’s office in West Virginia and that he was planning to drop a petition calling for the Conservative Democrat to protect the Senate’s filibusters and vote against HR 1, the voting rights proposal known as “For the People’s Law,” which was blocked in the Senate. (Another bill, the Freedom of Voting Act, is now pending.)

FreedomWorks is currently running an “election protection initiative” with Conservative lawyer Cleta Mitchell. Like The New York Times reported in January, Mitchell had “quietly helped President Trump’s attempts to undermine the election results” and was included a now infamous phone call where Trump pressured the electoral authorities in Georgia, suggesting that they could be prosecuted if they did not “find” enough votes to overturn Joe Biden’s victory in the state.

“The 2020 election was chaotic and deliberately overwhelmed the electoral systems in many parts of our country,” Mitchell said in a video posted on a FreedomWorks website. “It’s no wonder people across the country think there was really something wrong with the 2020 election. There was.”

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