'Wanted to give you a heads up': New charges say a Capitol Police officer obstructed the Jan. 6 riot probe

'Wanted to give you a heads up': New charges say a Capitol Police officer obstructed the Jan. 6 riot probe
Kurt Kaiser, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Michael Angelo Riley has spent more than 25 years with the U.S. Capitol Police. And now, the Justice Department is charging him with obstruction of justice for allegedly trying to help one of the rioters who attacked the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6.

The indictment alleges that on January 6, a suspect — who is identified as "Person 1" — "illegally entered" the Capitol Building. That day, according to the indictment, Riley "responded to reports of an explosive device near the Capitol complex." The following day, "through a Facebook direct message," Riley "initiated contact with Person 1, who had posted 'selfie'-style photographs, videos, and other commentary on Facebook admitting his presence and conduct inside the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021."

The indictment reads, "RILEY and Person 1 had never communicated directly before…. In his initial message to Person 1, RILEY wrote, 'Hey (Person 1), im a Capitol police officer who agrees with your political stance. Take down the part about being in the building." Riley allegedly added that "they are currently investigating and everyone who was in the building is going to be charged. Just looking out!"

In a subsequent message to "Person 1," according to the indictment, Riley allegedly wrote, "I get it…. It was a total shit show. Just wanted to give you a heads up…. Im glad you got out of there unscathed We had over 50 officers hurt, some pretty bad."

The events of January 6 were unprecedented in U.S. history. That day, a violent mob of Donald Trump supporters attacked the U.S. Capitol Building hoping to stop Congress from certifying now-President Joe Biden's Electoral College victory in the 2020 presidential election. The certification, however, was delayed but not prevented, and Biden was sworn in as U.S. president two weeks later on January 20.

Some members of Congress, including New York Democrat Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, have expressed concerns about the allegiance of some members of the Capitol Police.

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