The federal prosecutor who has pursued hundreds of Trump inauguration protesters on unprecedented felony riot charges for over a year lied to the court about edits her team made to a key video filmed by right-wing operative James O’Keefe’s organization, a judge found Wednesday.
The ruling does not guarantee that the remaining defendants in the case will go free. Judge Robert Morin agreed with defense lawyers that Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Kerkhoff had illegally suppressed evidence, but declined to make a final ruling on their motion to dismiss all charges in light of the government’s cheating. That motion governs only one of several clusters of defendants who may yet land in prison for marching alongside people who broke windows and threw rocks.
The full video captures an undercover police officer saying of organizers from the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), “I don’t think they know anything about any of the upper echelon stuff.” But that moment was edited out of the video before prosecutors turned it over to defense counsel in an earlier case, and was only discovered after the court ordered the government to hand over the full, unedited files.
Withholding a police witness’s in-the-moment statement that organizers had no knowledge of the thing they’re being accused of planning is a clear violation of the laws governing evidence-sharing. Kerkhoff had previously told the court that no potentially exculpatory evidence had been withheld because the videos were only altered to conceal the identities of the police officer and the O’Keefe operative. Defense counsel has asked Morin to censure Kerkhoff for that false claim.
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Author: Alan Pyke