Capitol Police officer resigns after getting accused of helping a MAGA rioter

Capitol Police officer resigns after getting accused of helping a MAGA rioter
Donald Trump supporters outside the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6, 2021, TapTheForwardAssist

In the middle of October, reports came out detailing the arrest and obstruction of justice charges against U.S. Capitol Police officer Michael A. Riley. Officer Riley allegedly befriended a man online and shortly after the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol grounds in Washington, D.C., began advising him to delete incriminating evidence of his participation in potential crimes. That's against the law—no matter who you are.

On Friday, POLITICO reports that Michael Riley is handing in his resignation and ending his 26-year career as a law enforcement officer. Riley has been on administrative leave since being indicted, while the Capitol Police Department conducted their own internal investigation. Riley's defense team told POLITICO that their client pleads not guilty: "[T]he evidence will show that it is not a felony for one person to suggest to another that they take down ill-conceived Facebook posts."

Of course, that's not exactly what the evidence presented so far seems to show.

According to the indictment, former officer Riley reportedly befriended a man [Person 1] online, after only tangentially knowing one another through a Facebook group dedicated to fishing. Less than a week later that man attended and trespassed, and allegedly got wicked high, all while videotaping his activities, at the January 6, Stop the Steal insurrection at the State Capitol in D.C. A day after those events, Riley direct messaged the man:

"Hey [Person I], im [sic] a capitol police officer who agrees with your political stance. Take down the part about being in the building they are currently investigating and everyone who was in the buildings going to [sic] charged. Just looking out!"

"Ill-conceived?" For sure. But this isn't you telling your buddy that their post ranting away at something is probably not something they want their grandparents or cousins to have to read in between your pictures of your new grill. Later on, Riley offered up some pro bono legal advice:

"The only thing I can see is if you went in the building and they have proof you will be charged. You could always articulate that you had nowhere to go, but thats for the court."

While the two men continued to chat about things, including the ongoing arrests and investigations into the Jan. 6 insurrection, Riley even offered up his place for the man and his daughter to stay:

"Next time you want to come to DC just call me, you can stay at my house on the shore for free and bring your daughter to the museums. If you want to see the capitol building, lets do it legally next time...I know a guy who can get you a Its behind you now...lesson learned! Just ask your attorney whats next."

Almost comically, after it became clear that the FBI was not only investigating Person 1 but that they were mostly interested in his new relationship with Officer Riley, Riley tried to delete all of his messages and then send a Dear John message to Person 1. It reads very much like an attempt at a future defense:

Hey [Person 1], another mutual friend was talking about you last night. I tried to defend you but then he showed me a video of you in the Capitol smoking weed and acting like a moron. I have to say, i was shocked and dumbfounded, since your story of getting pushed in the building with no other choice now seems not only false but is a complete lie. I feel like a moron for believing you... I was so mad last night I deleted all your post, but i wanted to text you this morning and let you know that I will no longer be conversing with you.

Of course, as the FBI chronicled, this "video" he says he was "shown" that has opened his eyes to this new friend's flaws, is something he acknowledged seeing almost two weeks prior—long before offering his new friend tours of D.C. and free stays at his lakeside property.

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