The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Intelligence contractor who praised Nazis found guilty in Jan. 6 riot

Hatchet M. Speed (AP)
2 min

A Northern Virginia military reservist assigned to do intelligence work was found guilty Tuesday of obstructing Congress’s confirmation of the 2020 presidential election results in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

Hatchet M. Speed, a Navy Reserve petty officer first class formerly assigned to Naval Warfare Space Field Activity at the National Reconnaissance Office in Chantilly, Va., was convicted of the felony offense, along with four misdemeanors, after a bench trial before U.S. District Judge Trevor N. McFadden.

Speed earlier this year was found guilty by a jury in Alexandria federal court of possessing three unregistered firearms silencers in a separate felony case.

U.S. prosecutors cast Speed as a heavily armed Nazi sympathizer with top-level U.S. government security clearance who breached the Capitol with members of the Proud Boys extremist group. In charging documents, the government cited Speed’s alleged statements to an undercover FBI employee about using violence to further “anti-government and anti-Semitic ideologies,” including against many “enemies” who live near government in Washington.

McFadden said he did not consider Speed’s antisemitic statements in his verdict, and excluded several exhibits after defense objections. But the judge called evidence of Speed’s intent to corruptly obstruct Congress “the strongest and most damning” of the cases before him.

The judge found that Speed understood that supporters of President Donald Trump wanted Vice President Mike Pence to reject the electoral votes of six states won by Joe Biden and substitute alternate electors loyal to Trump.

“I’m going in there. I have no respect for the people in this building. They have no respect for me,” Speed said after asserting that “our own vice president just sold us out,” according to findings read by McFadden, a 2017 Trump appointee and former Trump Justice Department official.

Intelligence contractor, alleged Nazi sympathizer charged in Jan. 6 riot

The judge said Speed knew his actions were wrong, and that entering the Capitol was illegal. He said Speed saw, among other things, a mob push through police lines and a rioter take a crowbar to break into the Senate Parliamentarian’s Office.

While McFadden said he believed that Speed didn’t wake up that morning expecting to storm the Capitol, his and the crowd’s mood changed after it became known that Pence would not reject legitimate electoral votes. “The defendant then decided to break into the Capitol building with others to prevent the certification of the vote,” the judge ruled.

Speed was not accused of violence, has no criminal history and until recently worked with a U.S. defense and intelligence cyberoperations contractor based in nearby Vienna, Va. He previously had a Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information clearance. Prosecutors alleged that after the Capitol attack, he bought $50,000 worth of firearms in a “panic.”

Speed faces sentencing May 8.