The 49-year-old Indiana woman before him, who had just pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of demonstrating inside the Capitol, did not disagree.
Although the day after the riot Anna Morgan-Lloyd described Jan. 6 as “the most exciting day of my life,” in court she expressed regret and contrition.
“I went there to support . . . President Trump peacefully,” she said. “I’m ashamed that it became a savage display of violence that day. . . . It was never my intent to be a part of something that’s so disgraceful to our American people and so disgraceful to our country. I just want to apologize.”
Lamberth credited Morgan-Lloyd for her early cooperation and admission of guilt, expressing frustration with both defendants and observers who argue that the riot was merely a political protest. He sentenced her to three years of probation.
Referring to the words of Rep. Andrew S. Clyde (R-Ga.), who last month suggested that many inside the Capitol following the pro-Trump mob’s attack on the building looked like they were on a “normal tourist visit,” the judge said that video introduced in court “will show the attempts of some congressmen to rewrite history . . . is utter nonsense.”
Referring to Morgan-Lloyd’s own statement, he noted, “You saw it for yourself and you were horrified.”
The judge also took time to dismiss “conspiracy theories” about FBI informants and address claims that the Capitol defendants are being treated more harshly than Black Lives Matter protesters. He said he couldn’t speak to what happens in state courts, but that Attorney General Merrick Garland has “promised the law will be applied equally . . . whatever the complexion of the demonstrator is.”
He noted that Martin Luther King Jr., although he was never violent, prepared to go to jail when he protested against violence.
“Some of my defendants in some of these other cases think there’s no consequence to this, and there is a consequence,” Lamberth said. “I don’t want to create the impression that probation is the automatic outcome here, because it’s not going to be.”
Lamberth is a respected figure in the federal judiciary who was previously the presiding judge on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and served a second term chairing a judiciary panel on inter-circuit assignments. Appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1987, he is a former federal and U.S. Army prosecutor who is known to be a tough sentencer.
He warned Morgan-Lloyd that if she violates her terms of release in any way, she will go to jail — in his court, “probation comes once in a lifetime.” She must also perform 40 hours of community service and pay $500 in restitution.
Her defense attorney H. Heather Shaner went to great lengths to show that Morgan-Lloyd deserved leniency. She had her client read books and watch movies about discrimination and share her thoughts with the judge.
“I’ve lived a sheltered life and truly haven’t experienced life the way many have,” Morgan-Lloyd wrote. “At first it didn’t dawn on me, but later I realized that if every person like me, who wasn’t violent, was removed from that crowd, the ones who were violent may have lost the nerve to do what they did.”
In court, Shaner said Morgan-Lloyd now subscribes to the History Channel and, without prompting, had watched a recent documentary about the 1921 race massacre in Tulsa.
“I’ve learned that even though we live in a wonderful country things still need to improve,” Morgan-Lloyd wrote in one report. “People of all colors should feel as safe as I do to walk down the street.”
Prosecutors did not ask for incarceration, noting that Morgan-Lloyd already spent an “eye-opening” two days in jail.
“To be clear, what the Defendant initially described as ‘the most exciting day of [her] life’ was, in fact, a tragic day for our nation — a day of riotous violence, collective destruction, and criminal conduct by a frenzied and lawless mob,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Joshua S. Rothstein said in court. “However . . . [Morgan-Lloyd’s] seeming prior bravado . . . appears to have been tempered by a realization of the consequences of her actions.”
Rothstein called probation appropriate because Morgan-Lloyd had no known ties to extremist groups, did not plan to enter the Capitol, stayed inside one hallway for only about 10 minutes and did not commit any violence or destruction while there. She also cooperated with law enforcement and quickly accepted responsibility, the prosecutor said.
A former waitress and General Electric employee whose job was moved offshore, Morgan-Lloyd was born in rural Indiana and married her teenage crush when both were adults and he was going through a difficult divorce, defense attorney Shaner said.
Morgan-Lloyd said in court papers that she graduated from community college, worked for a medical device maker, is a mother to two stepdaughters and helps care for five grandchildren.
Raised a Democrat, she supported Trump for president beginning in 2016.
“My husband and I both found it hard to believe because we didn’t like him at all before. But he was standing up for what we believe in. We couldn’t argue with it,” Morgan-Lloyd wrote. “We felt that when [Democrats] worked against him they worked against me, my family and my community.”
She said she and her friends came to Washington to “show that a lot of American people support Trump,” and that she did not intend to do more than walk to the Capitol.
“When a 74 year old woman, we met that day, went up, we followed to keep her safe. I made the decision to go up and I’m responsible for that. No one made me go, I wasn’t forced. When she entered the building, we went in to find her. Once again I could have chosen to stay outside,” she wrote.
The government sentencing recommendation of 36 months of probation is greater than a 12-month term of supervision that would follow a maximum six-month prison term for someone convicted of parading, picketing or demonstrating in the Capitol. Most first-time misdemeanor offenders do not receive prison time.
Prosecutors have been offering first-time offenders charged only with misdemeanors at the Capitol — roughly half the total — the option of pleading guilty to a single count, paying $500 in restitution and meeting with investigators.
Two defendants have pleaded guilty to more serious felony offenses. Jon Ryan Schaffer, 53, described in court documents as a founding member of the Oath Keepers, is cooperating with prosecutors in hopes of trimming a roughly four-year recommended prison term for obstructing an official proceeding of Congress and trespassing in the Capitol while armed.
Tampa crane operator Paul Allard Hodgkins, 38, faces a 15- to 21-month recommended sentencing range after pleading guilty to felony obstruction of Congress.
Lamberth’s remarks were reinforced by other judges Wednesday, including U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Kelly, a 2017 Trump appointee.