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A New York man charged with assaulting a police officer during the deadly Capitol riot has asked a judge for permission to use dating websites while confined at his parents’ house.
Thomas Sibick, of Buffalo, was part of a mob that Trump urged to “fight like hell” to overturn his election defeat by Joe Biden.
In a court filing on Christmas Day, his lawyer said he “realises that if he were to meet someone on a social media site, he would be unable to leave his home for the purpose of going to dinner or to participate in other events. He does, however, feel the need to establish some sort of connection with someone (if possible, in light of his situation).”
Five people died around events at the Capitol on 6 January, including a police officer and a rioter shot by law enforcement. Lawmakers hid or were hustled to safety as some rioters sought figures including Vice-President Mike Pence to capture or possibly kill.
Sibick, 36, awaits trial. He is alleged to have taken part in an “ongoing violent assault” of the former Washington police officer Michael Fanone, “ripping off [his] radio – his lifeline for help – and his badge”.
Fanone was seriously injured and has become a leading voice seeking accountability for the rioters and those who urged them on, giving emotional testimony to the House select committee investigating the attack. He announced last week that he had resigned as a police officer, to join CNN.
Earlier this year, Sibick sought to escape the company of other Capitol rioters in a Washington jail, even volunteering for solitary confinement.
In October, Judge Amy Berman Jackson ordered Sibick to enter home confinement under supervision of his parents. He is not allowed to attend political rallies, use social media or watch talk shows on cable news.
“There will only be one chance,” Judge Jackson said then. “If you violate my conditions, it will indicate my trust was misplaced.”
Nonetheless, in a filing first reported by Business Insider, Sibick sought permission to use social media to look for a job and to “interact with members of the opposite gender for the purpose of establishing a friendship”.
His attorney, Stephen Brennwald, wrote: “He is not seeking to use any social media application for any prohibited purpose, such as for political engagement, news reading, or any other activity that would violate not only the letter, but the spirit, of his release conditions.”
Sibick has said he now views the Capitol attack as “without question unconscionable”, a “disgrace to our nation” and “a scar Trump is ultimately responsible for”.
But he is among more than 700 people charged. Earlier this month, a man who attacked officers with a fire extinguisher was sentenced to more than five years in prison, the longest sentence yet handed down.
Robert Palmer, 54 and from Florida, told a judge he now recognised that Trump and others stoked the riot by “spitting out the false narrative about a stolen election and how it was ‘our duty’ to stand up to tyranny”.
“Little did I realise that they were the tyrannical ones desperate to hold on to power at any cost,” Palmer said, “even by creating the chaos they knew would happen with such rhetoric”.
Trump was impeached for a second time for inciting an insurrection. Ten House Republicans and seven senators turned against him but he was still acquitted.
Members of the House 6 January committee have indicated that they could recommend Trump be criminally charged.