“I’m not saying Hitler did nothing wrong, but did he do anything wrong?” accused Capitol rioter Timothy Hale-Cusinelli wondered on a February 2020 podcast. After January 6, he pulled that one off of YouTube and attempted to delete the pictures of himself sporting a distinctive mustache from his phone.
But he couldn’t delete his coworkers’ memories of the time he showed up at work LARPing as a Nazi. Ditto for his habit of asking all new hires if they were Jewish.
Thirty-three of Hale-Cusinelli’s coworkers told the FBI under oath that he was a virulently anti-semitic white supremacist who promised to leave his job “in a blaze of glory.” And while it’s not illegal to be a bigot, it probably won’t help bolster the claim that fomenting a race war and overthrowing the federal government was the farthest thing from Hale-Cusinelli’s mind as he directed a stream of protestors around the Capitol.
Hale-Cusinelli, a member of the United States Army Reserve and security contractor at Naval Weapons Station Earle, admitted to the FBI and Naval Criminal Investigation Services that he was at the Capitol on January 6 to stop Congress from certifying President Biden’s electoral win. He was recorded by an FBI informant rhapsodizing about “the adrenaline, the rush, the purpose” that he felt during the invasion and his regret that more “patriots” hadn’t been there to take over congress.
Defendant stated that it was “only a matter of time” before a civil war broke out “along partisan lines,” but that “they” don’t want to fire the first shot because all of the guns and resources are in Republican hands, and Republicans make up 70% of the military. Defendant then said that, in the event of civil war, “it’s not going to be New York and California winning the day, it’s going to be the good old boys from the Midwest, Texas, and Arkansas.” Defendant told CHS that he “really wishes” there would be a civil war. When CHS interrupted and said “but a lot of people would die,” Defendant replied “Thomas Jefferson said the tree of liberty should be refreshed with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”
A letter to the court from his supervisor saying that Hale-Cusinelli is a stand-up, not at all racist guy was contradicted by the supervisor’s own testimony to the FBI that he’d had to tell the defendant to quit being such a racist asshole at work.
And Hale-Cusinelli wants to be released into the care of a guy who got arrested with him in 2010 for “using a ‘potato gun’ made out of PVC pipe to shoot frozen corn at houses in Howell, New Jersey. The ‘potato gun’ was emblazoned with the words ‘WHITE IS RIGHT’ and a drawing of a confederate flag.” Alternatively, he’d like to be supervised by a female friend who appears to have engineered the false letter from Hale-Cusinelli’s supervisor and spends lots of time LOLing at his Hitler role play selfies and plans to destroy evidence.
This amazing correction the defendant’s lawyers were forced to make to the court records on March 2 is really the cherry on top.
A representation was made by a family member that Defendant was offered an honorable discharge from military service however, it has come to counsel’s attention that this was a mistaken representation and is not accurate. Defendant submits this correction to the Court.
Mistakes were made.
Perhaps it was a strategic error to boast that he could not possibly have been intending to commit crimes on January 6 because he “got dressed up in a suit and tie for the occasion,” when the government claims that “he hid the suit and tie that he wore to the Capitol at an undisclosed location before he was arrested; and he discussed with [the FBI informant] his intent to destroy additional evidence so as not to be arrested with it.”
Whether this will persuade the court to overrule the magistrate and order Hale-Cusinelli held in custody pending trial remains to be seen. The government urges U.S. District Judge Trevor N. McFadden to follow the precedents set by Judges Howell, Lamberth, and Kelly, his fellows on the federal bench in DC, and treat the invasion of the Capitol as inherently different from other crimes similarly charged.
Will Judge McFadden agree with his fellow Trump appointee Judge Thomas Kelly, who referred to the events on January 6 as a “unique attack on the crown jewels of our country, the peaceful transfer of power” when he overruled the magistrate to hold Proud Boy Dominic Pezzola in custody?
We’ll find out on March 23 when Hale-Cusinelli has his next hearing to determine whether he’ll be sporting his Nazi stache at home or as a guest of the federal government.
United States v. HALE-CUSANELLI (1:21-cr-00037) [Docket via Court Listener]
Elizabeth Dye lives in Baltimore where she writes about law and politics.