Newly unsealed court documents detail the “significant information” that right-wing influencer Brandon Straka provided to the FBI as part of a plea deal with prosecutors over his involvement in the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol, including his naming of another rioter whom the authorities had not yet identified.
Straka — a self-described former liberal actor who built a large conservative following when he founded the #WalkAway campaign to encourage others to abandon the Democratic Party and support Donald Trump — was sentenced in January to three months of home detention, a $5,000 fine, and three years of probation for one misdemeanor count of disorderly conduct.
Straka had spoken at a “Stop the Steal” rally on Jan. 5, 2021, and then joined the mob that descended on the Capitol the following day. But he did not enter the building or assault law enforcement. Instead, he admitted to urging other rioters to steal an officer’s shield and to enter the building. He also posted inflammatory comments on social media urging “patriots” to “hold the line,” but he later said he did not realize there was violence or vandalism occurring inside the Capitol.
At the time of his sentencing, prosecutors had acknowledged Straka had been “cooperative” and “helpful” with investigators, but they did not detail the extent of his cooperation.
This week, US District Judge Dabney Friedrich ordered the unsealing of documents detailing his cooperation following a request from a coalition of media outlets, including BuzzFeed News. But in an apparent error, sealed attachments were also released despite the judge asking for additional information on whether these should be made public. In these attachments, prosecutors went into great detail in laying out for the judge the information Straka had turned over on himself and others in interviews with the FBI.
Straka attorney Bilal Essayli on Friday filed a motion in the US District Court for the District of Columbia seeking a status conference hearing to discuss the documents’ release “without Court approval.”
In a statement posted on the social platform Gettr just before midnight on Friday, Straka also decried that the sealed documents “were leaked to the liberal media.” He also defended himself against accusations of being a “snitch,” insisting that he hadn’t got anyone into trouble.
“There is NOTHING WRONG with talking to the DOJ and telling them your friends are innocent,” he wrote.
“I hope at some point people pull their heads out and begin focusing on the ACTUAL horror here- that sealed court documents were leaked from within the DOJ to the liberal media,” Straka added. “Perhaps we can begin caring about that at some point?”
In one document, prosecutors outlined three times Straka had met with FBI investigators after he was charged: Feb. 11, 2021; March 5, 2021; and Jan. 5, 2022. His lawyers also passed along information on his behalf on Dec. 8, 2021.
“Straka was cooperative at each meeting,” prosecutors wrote in the Jan. 13, 2022, filing.
At the Feb. 11 meeting, he provided information regarding “Stop the Steal” organizer Ali Alexander and members Amy Kremer, Kylie Kremer, and Cindy Chafian.
He also provided information regarding Simone Gold, the founder of America’s Frontline Doctors, a group that has questioned COVID-19 vaccines and pushed unproven drugs. Gold pleaded guilty to one Jan. 6–related misdemeanor offense in March this year as part of a plea agreement. Last month, she was sentenced to two months in prison.
In his Gettr statement, Straka said Gold was now a friend of his who had been arrested and charged before he was, indicating he played no part in her prosecution.
But in the unsealed filing, prosecutors said Straka had turned over voicemail messages from Gold that contained “valuable” information, which they indicated could lead her to take a plea deal.
At the March 5 meeting, prosecutors said Straka provided more “general information” about Alexander, as well as naming another man who he had been told had entered Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office.
On Dec. 8, Straka’s attorneys provided the government with information regarding a registered sex offender who lived near him in Nebraska. Straka said he observed this man participating in the riot and encouraging others to take an officer’s shield. Prosecutors said this information was “beneficial” because the man “was not previously identified by the FBI prior to Straka’s identification.” That man has not yet been charged with offenses relating to Jan. 6.
At the Jan. 5 meeting, Straka provided more information on this man and answered follow-up questions from the FBI.
In a separate document that was unsealed — apparently in error — prosecutors estimated Straka had sat for between four and five hours of interviews with the FBI and said he had provided “significant information.”
“There is no indication that Mr. Straka was not truthful, complete, and reliable concerning information that he provided to the Government,” they said.
In this document, prosecutors warned that Straka was at risk because the sex offender he identified had a “predatory and aggressive history, which could easily result in retaliation against Mr. Straka or his family.”
They also noted that media coverage and internet chatter about his cooperation with investigators had elevated his status nationally.
“Mr. Straka has turned the page by providing information concerning criminal activity on January 6 on three separate occasions; and has suffered significant damage to his reputation as a result,” prosecutors said.
In an earlier motion requesting the sentencing documents be placed under seal, prosecutors said the step was necessary to “maintain the integrity of this investigation and protect the safety of the defendant,” noting that media had reported he was cooperating with the government and that he had already been contacted by people who believed he was doing so.
They provided the court with a text message Straka received from an unnamed person that read: “Whatever you told them, it’s not too late to undo this. You will go to your grave as a traitor otherwise — that will be your legacy. Please reach within yourself and the courage I know is in there. Don’t do this.”