49 Capitol Riot Defendants Tried to Erase Photos, Videos, Texts From Phones

Dozens of defendants accused of storming the U.S. Capitol allegedly rushed to delete footage that showed them taking part in the troubling event, according to a report.

According to the Associated Press, which reviewed case files of those accused, at least 49 defendants were accused of attempting to erase photos, texts and videos or social media accounts that allegedly tied them to the Capitol riots on January 6.

The agency added that experts commented the effort to remove any trace they had played in the assault on the Capitol showed a willingness to manipulate evidence once the pro-Trump supporters realized they could face consequences for interrupting the certification of Joe Biden's election win.

Experts added it could serve as proof of the alleged defendants' guilt, making it more difficult for them to secure plea deals or more lenient sentencing.

Gabriel J. Chin, who teaches criminal law at the University of California, Davis, told AP: "It makes them look tricky, makes them look sneaky."

But, removing content from the internet isn't as easy as deleting from phones or shutting down social media accounts as investigators have managed to obtain information from companies, including when pages are erased.

Adam Scott Wandt, a public policy professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, told the Associated Press that posts made on Facebook, Instagram and other major platforms will be retrievable for a period of time.

Law enforcement also asks these companies to keep records of alleged criminals for a period of time until they are able to get court orders to view the posts.

The report continued to claim that only some of the 500 people who have been arrested in connection with the storming of the Capitol have been charged with deleting incriminating evidence from their accounts.

Several of those who have been charged with removing incriminating information are alleged members of the Oath Keepers extremist organization who are accused of having tried to block the certification of Biden's victory.

The Southern Poverty Law Center described the Oath Keepers as "one of the largest anti-government groups in the U.S. today."

Lawyers representing some of those accused of deliberately taking down the social media posts and deleting texts, as well as other information, said their clients only did so to limit the impact the attack had on their families and show they did not support the riot.

Accused rioter Matthew Mark Wood, who is said to have acknowledged removing content from his phone and Facebook account that showed his presence in the Capitol building on the day of the riot reportedly told an FBI agent he did not mean to disrupt the Electoral College certification.

Investigators said, however, that two of his removed Facebook posts show a different version of events.

The Associated Press reported FBI court records stated that Wood was happy to send "those politicians running" and said he had stood up to a tyrannical government.

Wood reportedly wrote: "When diplomacy doesn't work and your message has gone undelivered, it shouldn't surprise you when we revolt."

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At least 49 accused participants in the Capitol riot attempted to remove evidence they were there, according to a report. Supporters of former President Donald Trump are pictured outside the Capitol before the riot in Washington, D.C. on January 6, 2021. Robert Nickelsberg/Getty