Former Trump State Department official sentenced to 70 months for Jan. 6 assaults

Jose Luis Magana/AP
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A former Trump administration State Department official has been sentenced to 70 months in prison for joining the violent Jan. 6 mob that pummeled police officers in the Capitol’s Lower West Terrace tunnel.

Federico Klein, a Trump-appointed official involved in U.S. foreign policy toward South America until Trump left office, was seen on video pushing against beleaguered and outnumbered officers during an hourslong confrontation that was among the most violent episodes of the day. His sentence closes one of the earliest chapters in the investigation of the Jan. 6 attack, beginning with his arrest in March 2021.

Judge Trevor McFadden, one of four Trump-appointed federal district court judges in Washington, D.C., issued the sentence Friday after having previously pronounced Klein — a former marine — guilty during a two-week bench trial alongside another defendant who assaulted officers in the tunnel. McFadden convicted Klein of 12 charges, including six counts of assaulting or impeding officers, obstructing Congress’ Jan. 6 proceeding and interfering with officers during a civil disorder.

McFadden, in finding Klein guilty, emphasized that Klein had repeatedly told associates that he was intimately familiar with the congressional proceedings occurring in the Capitol on Jan. 6, underscoring his intent to obstruct and disrupt lawmakers’ effort to certify Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election.

Prosecutors, who asked for a 10-year sentence, say Klein was an early adherent of Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was stolen, taking time off from the State Department to investigate claims of fraud in Las Vegas. He repeatedly told friends and acquaintances that Jan. 6 was the last chance to reverse Trump’s defeat in the election.

After a prolonged confrontation with police in the tunnel, prosecutors say, Klein grabbed a police riot shield and used it to prevent officers from closing an exterior door to the Capitol.

“With the shield as a wedge, Klein and other rioters pried the doors open again and continued their attacks on the police in the tunnel, which lasted for close to two more hours,” prosecutors said.

Klein had asked to be sentenced to 40 days in prison, which appears to be roughly the amount of time he spent in pretrial custody in 2021. He contended that prosecutors overstated his role in the violence and he also pointed to his nine years in the Marine Corps, including a tour in Iraq in 2005. Klein joined the State Department as a Trump appointee in 2017 and remained there until after Jan. 6, 2021. He was a desk officer assigned to State’s Office of Brazilian and Southern Cone Affairs before being transferred to a unit that handles Freedom of Information Act requests.

POLITICO first reported Klein’s March 2021 arrest, noting that he was the first Trump administration political appointee to face charges in connection with the Capitol riot. He’s one of a total of almost 1,200 people who’ve been charged criminally over the election-related unrest in the Capitol.

Trump himself was indicted in August of this year in connection with the events of Jan. 6. Although he isn't charged directly with involvement in the violence at the Capitol, he faces broad accusations of using false claims to fuel the riot and to interfere with the certification of the vote.