More Trump Inauguration Protest Arrestees Have Charges Dismissed

Washington, DC – The case brought by the US Attorney against protesters mass-arrested opposing President Trump’s inauguration suffered several more losses early this week. On Monday morning, federal prosecutors moved to dismiss the remaining charges against 3 defendants who had been scheduled to go to trial that same day. Additionally, jurors in the second inauguration protest trial, who began deliberations on Friday, June 1, delivered a partial verdict on Monday, announcing that they had found defendant Cathseigh Webber “not guilty” of all charges.

While Webber’s acquittal was announced this morning, the other three current trial defendants have not received a verdict from the jury and still face sentences of up to 60 years in prison. The remaining defendants – Michael Basillas, Seth Cadman and Anthony Felice – are each accused of participating in property destruction during the anti-Trump protest march, although no witnesses have identified them.

DC Metropolitan Police (MPD) arresting a protester on Inauguration Day (January, 20, 2017)

The government’s case against Basillas, Cadman, and Felice relies entirely upon arguments made by prosecutors, who claim that each defendant’s appearance can be correlated with clothing details, such as zippers and sunglasses, in videos analyzed by DC Police Detective Greggory Pemberton. The alleged identification of the three protesters has been heavily contested by defense counsel, who described the alleged evidence as merely “blurry pictures of someone who is dressed similar to everyone else.”

Last week DC Superior Court Chief Judge Robert Morin sanctioned the US Attorney’s Office for hiding up to 69 evidence recordings from defendants and making false statements to the court. Judge Morin told prosecutors they could no longer use undercover video taken of an inauguration protest planning meeting by the right-wing “entrapment” media group Project Veritas.

The same day Morin announced his sanctions, Assistant US Attorney Ahmed Baset announced his officer was dropping all charges against the June 4 trial group, and was dropping all felonies against another trial group that had been scheduled for May 29 (remaining charges against these defendants were dropped on Monday, June 4.)

Morin also forbade the prosecution from using their theory of a “conspiracy to riot” in two trial groups (whose cases have since all been dismissed). His ruling is believed to apply to other inauguration defendants still facing charges, although the implications of Morin’s ruling have yet to be fully litigated in trial readiness hearings for the remaining cases. As of this writing, 47 defendants remain indicted and face charges stemming from the DC police mass-arrest of the “anti-capitalist, anti-fascist” march during Trump’s inauguration.

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