A U.S. Capitol officer was arrested Friday on obstruction of justice charges. The charges relate to communications with another man who was later criminally charged with taking part in the Jan. 6 Capitol Riot by Trump supporters.
According to a charging paper, Michael Riley, the cop, deleted messages from and to that person's Facebook account on Jan. 19. He had previously urged that man to remove information from his own Facebook page that showed him inside the Capitol during an invasion.
According to the document, the deletions took place after Riley heard that another man had taken Riley's phone and downloaded all of it. The FBI was also "very curious" about the communications between the two men on the heels the riot, according to the document.
Riley, who served the Capitol Police for almost 25 years, will appear in U.S. District Court, Washington today, where he faces two counts of obstruction.
A Capitol Police spokesperson said that Riley, who was most recently a K-9 technician for Capitol Police, has been placed on administrative leaves pending resolution of his criminal case.
In a statement, Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger stated that "Obstruction of Justice" is a serious allegation.
"The Department was notified of this investigation several weeks back. Manger stated that the officer was taken into administrative leave following his arrest. An administrative investigation will be opened by the USCP's Office of Professional Responsibility."
According to a grand jury indictment, Riley accepted a request for a friend on Facebook from a police officer.
The indictment states that Riley and the man were not acquainted, but they were both avid fishermen and members of fishing-related Facebook groups.
A mob of supporters of Donald Trump stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, disrupting the ongoing confirmation process of President Joe Biden’s election. According to the indictment, one of the illegally entered Capitol was the man who had received Riley's friend request.
Riley wasn't on duty at the Capitol Building that day, but he did respond to reports about an explosive device near the building that day, according the indictment.
Five people were killed in the riot, including Brian Sicknick (Capitol Police Officer), who was shot to death on January 7.
After the other person had posted selfie photos, videos, and commentary on Facebook the previous day, Riley reached out to the other man through a Facebook direct messaging.
Riley had never spoken to the man before and wrote: "Hey...im a capitol officer who agrees your political stance," according to the indictment.
Riley wrote, "Take down that part about being inside the building they are investigating and everybody who was inside the building will be charged." "Just looking out!"
According to the indictment, Riley and the man exchanged "dozens of Facebook direct messages" on January 7, while the other person shared three videos that Riley showed that Riley had seen "outside and within the U.S." Capitol
"I understand it...it was a total s---show!" Riley replied, "Yes!" to the indictment.
"Just wanted you to know... I'm glad you made it out unscathed. There were over 50 of us, some very badly.
Riley was allegedly contacted by another person about the man with whom he was communicating. The messages contained a video of Person 1 using an unknown substance in the Capitol Building's Facebook Live-Stream on Jan. 6, as well as a screenshot showing Person 2 "inhaling from a hand-rolled tobacco cigarette."
Riley replied, "Yep, I know," to the second person.
According to the indictment, the two men continued their communication over the next few days. On Jan. 13, the other person informed the cop that the other man was being "mentored on social media due to his conduct on January 6."
Riley replied, "Get off social media," the charging document claims.
Riley received a news article on the case from the other man, which was criminally charged within a few days. The indictment also states that the other person called Riley's article "Fake News" via a direct message to Facebook.
According to the indictment, they spoke later on the phone.
The indictment states that Person 1 sent two text messages within hours to indicate that he had spoken with 'capitol cop' and that the charges against him were likely to be trespassing.
Riley received messages from the man asking for more information on the criminal charges. Riley replied, "Next time you come to DC, call me. You can stay at my home on the shore, or you can bring your daughter to see the museums," according the charging document.
Riley wrote, "If you want the capitol building to be seen legally, let's do it next time." I know someone who can give you a tour... LOL. You know what? Lesson learned. Ask your attorney for the next steps.
The FBI arrested the other man on January 19th and interviewed him about his actions.
According to the indictment, Riley was written the next day by the man who wrote Riley: "The FBI was very curious that you had been speaking with you if they hadn't already asked about your?" They took my phone and downloaded all of it."
Riley replied, "That's fine," reads the indictment.
According to the indictment, the cop "deleted all his Facebook direct messages to or from Person 1" shortly after.
Nearly two weeks after receiving and acknowledging the video and photo of the other man smoking in the Capitol Riley, Jan. 21 was the date that the man sent a message to Riley stating that "another mutual acquaintance was talking about your case the other night."
Riley wrote, "I tried to defend but he showed me video of you smoking marijuana and acting like a moron." "I must say, I was shocked and dumbfounded by your story about being pushed into the building without any other options.
According to the indictment, Riley wrote that he felt like a fool for believing him. "I deleted your entire post last night because I was so mad, but I wanted you to send me a text this morning to let you know that I won't be interacting with you anymore."