Nearly 12% of those charged in the Jan. 6 probe have military ties

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Washington — More than 80 of the defendants charged in relation to the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol have ties to the U.S. military — most of those with a military background were veterans.

A CBS News analysis of service records, attorney statements, and court documents has found that at least 81 current or former service members face charges and are accused of participating in the mob that led Congress to temporarily halt its counting of the 2020 presidential election's Electoral College votes.

The Justice Department has so far charged more than 700 individuals in connection with the Capitol breach.

While an overwhelming majority of those with military ties were veterans when they were charged, at least five were currently in the military when they participated in the attack. One was an active-duty Marine, and four were part-time troops, either in the Army Reserve or National Guard.

Court documents assert another alleged rioter was "attending basic training for the United States Air Force" at the time of an August 2021 interview with the FBI following his alleged participation in the January 6 attack.

In all, at least 36 have served in the Marine Corps, 28 in the Army, three in the Navy, and five in the Air Force.

The active-duty Marine

Marine Major Chris Warnagiris is the only active duty member of the military to have been charged for participating in the January 6 Capitol attack so far.

Christopher Warnagiris, in screen-shot photos from January 6, 2021. / Credit: Federal charging documents
Christopher Warnagiris, in screen-shot photos from January 6, 2021. / Credit: Federal charging documents

Investigators say in their Statement of Facts that Warnagiris was the first among a group of rioters to "push himself through" the doors of the Capitol East Rotunda, where officers are said to have just "lost ground" to rioters already inside the building who were attempting to prop open the doors.

Once Warnagiris was inside, other rioters followed, "one by one," prosecutors also said, each fighting and pushing their way past officers attempting to guard the Capitol entrance.

Warnagiris pulled people from the mob inside as he positioned himself in the corner of the doorway, using his body to keep the door open, according to the government's initial charging documents.

When a U.S. Capitol Police officer tried to shut the doors of the building, Warnagiris allegedly resisted and instead pushed the officer away to keep the door open, according to investigators' review of security and open-source videos from that day that is described in court documents.

A subsequent FBI interview with the officer in question, also described in the court documents, revealed that, after being shown a screenshot of one of the videos, the officer "recalled trying to push [Warnagiris] out of the way" and Warnagiris "pushing him back in an effort to maintain his position in the open door."

The Marine "is not accused of anything more physical or dangerous than pushing back," his legal defense team argued in documents filed with the court. They also pointed to the FBI interview, where the officer said he "did not realize [Warnagiris] was fighting to push the door open until he saw the screen shot" from the video of the alleged incident.

Christopher Warnagiris at Capitol door. / Credit: Federal charging documents
Christopher Warnagiris at Capitol door. / Credit: Federal charging documents

Warnagiris has pleaded not guilty to multiple violent crimes, including assaulting or impeding officers at the Capitol, and now faces a superseding indictment.

Warnagiris has been a Marine since 2002 and was most recently stationed at Camp Quantico, in Virginia.

A Board of Inquiry was held at Marine Corps Base Quantico earlier this year for Warnagiris to argue his case to stay in the Marine Corps. The outcome is pending.

The Army specialist who enlisted after the January 6 attack

Army Specialist James Mault's case is unusual in that he enlisted after his alleged participation in the January 6 attack. He was taken into custody on the morning of Thursday, October 7 at Fort Bragg in Fayetteville, North Carolina, according to a spokesman for the base. The Army said in October that it was not aware of Mault's participation, and the Army would continue to work closely with the FBI when making enlistment decisions. According to charging documents, the FBI had interviewed Mault about his participation in the rioting in mid-January.

FILE: James Mault, seen at Capitol (in brown hat) on January 6, 2021, according to federal charging documents. / Credit: Federal charging documents
FILE: James Mault, seen at Capitol (in brown hat) on January 6, 2021, according to federal charging documents. / Credit: Federal charging documents

Mault, who was 29 at the time of his arrest, joined the Army in May and was serving as a combat engineer. He had previously been a Patriot operator in the Army before he left active duty with the rank of sergeant in 2016. From 2016 to March 2020, he was a combat engineer in the New York Army National Guard.

According to the charging documents, Mault admitted that he had traveled to Washington, D.C. for former President Trump's January 6 rally with five friends and told investigators he had worn a distinctive hard hat "because he was aware of ANTIFA attacking Trump supporters after events in Washington." He said he thought the hat would offer some protection. The FBI said there was no indication that ANTIFA was involved in the January 6 attack.

FILE: Left, in brown hat: James Mault, January 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol. / Credit: Federal charging documents
FILE: Left, in brown hat: James Mault, January 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol. / Credit: Federal charging documents

Mault has been charged with multiple crimes related to his alleged actions on January 6, including one count of assaulting, resisting, or impeding certain officers with a dangerous weapon and one count of engaging in physical violence in a restricted building or grounds with a deadly or dangerous weapon.In that January FBI interview, court documents explain, "Mault described being caught up in the crowd and the mass of people pushed him closer and closer to the Capitol Building. Mault claimed to have no choice but to move forward because of the press of people behind him."

Investigators say that Capitol security and body-worn cameras and publicly available videos collected from that day show Mault and his co-defendant, Cody Mattice, "confronting law enforcement officers at a barrier leading up to the Capitol" and apparently climbing high above the crowd before pointing canisters at law enforcement, spraying them with the contents.

In an FBI interview, Mault "acknowledged witnessing law enforcement officers being assaulted and property destruction," but he has denied assaulting anyone or damaging property during the attack. He has entered a plea of not guilty.

The Marine veteran accused of assaulting police with a Marine Corps flag

Thomas Webster, a Marine Corps veteran and retired New York City Police Department officer, has been indicted on multiple counts, including assaulting a police officer with a large metal flagpole carrying a red U.S. Marine Corps flag attached to it. According to investigators' Statement of Facts, Webster yelled at the officer "You f***ing piece of shit. You f***ing Commie motherf***ers, man," and then lunged towards him with the metal flagpole.

Thomas Webster, at Capitol on January 6, 2021. / Credit: Federal charging documents
Thomas Webster, at Capitol on January 6, 2021. / Credit: Federal charging documents

Investigators describe in charging documents a violent struggle between the former Marine and the officer, alleging videos show Webster tackled the officer to the ground before further assaulting him.

"Webster can be seen pinning [the officer] to the ground and straddling him while he tries to forcibly remove [his] face shield and gas mask," court documents say.

During an FBI interview following the assault, the officer who was allegedly attacked by Webster described the violence, explaining he was "choked by his chin strap and was unable to breathe during this portion of the assault," the court documents also explain.

FILE: Thomas Webster, with hands on face of police officer, January 6, 2021. / Credit: Federal charging documents
FILE: Thomas Webster, with hands on face of police officer, January 6, 2021. / Credit: Federal charging documents

Investigators say they later identified the veteran in part by interviewing an administrator at the school his child attends. The school said he "regularly drops his child off school," court documents revealed.

Webster, who recently faced a second superseding indictment, has pleaded not guilty to all charges and is scheduled to stand trial for his alleged role in the Capitol attack in April.

According to court documents on the public docket, Webster intends to use body camera and publicly available videos to argue at trial that he was acting in self-defense on January 6, alleging "excessive force was used against him" by the officer, "prior to any act or allegation" for which Webster is charged.

Defense Department response

The Defense Department didn't respond to a request for comment on this report. However, alarmed by the involvement of veterans and military service members in the assault on the Capitol, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin ordered a one-day stand down in the spring to discuss extremism and subsequently formed the Counter Extremism Working Group. It has been tasked with updating the Pentagon's definition of extremist activity and adding training on extremist groups that might try to recruit former service members, as well as transition checklists for those leaving military service. The group is also standardizing entrance questionnaires to root out applicants with previous extremist behavior.

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