Florida man pleads guilty over Jan 6 riot as state’s governor Ron DeSantis insists there was no insurrection

A Florida man has pleaded guilty to participating in the 6 January 2021 riot at the US Capitol – on the same day the state’s governor called the insurrection simply a “protest” that “ended up devolving.”

Anthony Sargent, 47, pleaded guilty on Friday in District of Columbia federal court to a felony count of civil disorder along with six misdemeanor charges, according to court records. He faces up to five years in prison at a Sept. 28 sentencing hearing, AP reported.

The St. Augustine man was arrested in September 2021 after video footage showed him attempting to breach the north entrance to the Capitol, according to a criminal complaint, on the now-infamous January day when Trump supporters objecting to the 2020 election results stormed the government building. Sargent is later seen exiting the building through a cloud of white smoke and, separately, twice throwing a rock-like object toward the inner doors of the entrance.

Later that day, Sargent physically separated a law enforcement officer from a rioter and prevented the officer from apprehending the person, prosecutors said.

More than 1,000 people have been arrested in nearly all 50 states for alleged crimes related to the Capitol breach, according to officials. More than 350 people have been charged with assaulting or impeding law enforcement.

Florida Gov. and Republican presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis, however, downplayed the 6 January events during a podcast interview on Friday with comedian Russell Brand.

He said the day’s events, which left five dead, stemmed from a “protest” that “ended up devolving, you know, in a way that was unfortunate, of course.”

The governor told Mr Brand that the idea that Jan. 6 “was a plan to somehow overthrow the government of the United States is not true, and it’s something that the media had spun up.”

DeSantis, who is now challenging both former President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, also said Friday that it was “ridiculous” how much money was being provided for the US Capitol police in the wake of the attack.

The Florida governor has made similar comments in the past dismissing that the attack was an insurrection, saying at a January 2022 news conference that it was “an insult to people” to call it an insurrection when “nobody has been charged with that.”

His statements are in line with other Republican supporters of Trump who’ve minimized the attack to varying degrees. DeSantis has been seeking to appeal to Trump supporters as he campaigns for the White House, often portraying Trump as having failed to follow through on his own policies.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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