Ryan Nichols, Capitol rioter who confessed on video in the third person, gets five years

WASHINGTON — A Donald Trump fanatic who assaulted officers with pepper spray and called for additional violence after the Capitol attack as he confessed in the third person was sentenced to more than five years in federal prison and fined $200,000 on Thursday.

Ryan Nichols pleaded guilty in November to one felony count of obstruction of an official proceeding and one felony count of assaulting officers performing their duties. U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth, a Ronald Reagan appointee who has spoken out about the GOP’s “preposterous” false claims about the attack on Jan. 6, 2021, sentenced Nichols to 63 months Thursday, saying that while Nichols’ apology at his sentencing hearing “appears to be sincere,” Nichols made “very rigorous comments” on tape about his desire for future violence.

The $200,000 fine is among the highest set yet in a Jan. 6 case. It was imposed because Nichols did not cooperate with a financial evaluation, and so there is no evidence that he could not pay, Lamberth said. A crowdfunding account launched on behalf of Nichols and his family has raised more than $235,000 since 2021. Nichols’ attorney indicated he planned to appeal the fine.

In a video recorded before he took part in the Capitol attack, Nichols said the mob would lynch elected officials who voted to certify Joe Biden’s presidential victory.

“This is the second f—ing revolution!” Nichols said as he marched over to the Capitol. “Ryan Nichols said it, if you voted for f—ing treason we’re going to drag your f—ing a– through the streets.”

After he was seen on video spraying a giant canister of a chemical weapon at officers inside the lower west terrace tunnel, Nichols took to Facebook to brag about his conduct and call for additional violence.

“So if you want to know where Ryan Nichols stands, Ryan Nichols stands for violence,” Nichols said in a video cited by prosecutors.

Ryan Nichols. (U.S. District Court)Ryan Nichols. (U.S. District Court)

Ryan Nichols. (U.S. District Court)

Alluding to Nichols’ work in hurricane recovery, which once got him featured on daytime television, Assistant U.S. Attorney Douglas Brasher said Nichols was “a one-man hurricane” on Jan. 6, going on tirades and unleashing violence at the Capitol. While the storm walls of democracy may have ultimately stood that day, Brasher argued, Jan. 6 is a festering wound, and the next presidential election is coming up. Brasher, arguing for a sentence of 83 months, that the court needed to send a strong message that political violence is unacceptable. He noted that Nichols said repeatedly that he was ready to die for his cause.

“I will f—ing die for this,” Nichols said on video after the attack. “But before I do that, I plan on making other people die first, for their country, if it gets down to that.”

Joseph McBride, a Trump supporter who served as Nichols’ lawyer, called Nichols “a good man who did a bad thing.” McBride called what came out of Nichols’ mouth on Jan. 6 “madness” and compared Nichols to a “tropical storm” rather than a hurricane.

McBride, a former Tucker Carlson guest who has repeatedly fed into conspiracy theories about the Jan. 6 riot, also claimed that he now believes that some of the rhetoric about “hostages” and “political prisoners” on the right has gone too far, although he said the rhetoric the government had used about Jan. 6 defendants was also inappropriate.

“All of it’s wrong. None of it should be happening,” McBride said, saying he has recently “toned it down.”

Neither Nichols nor McBride — who said he wants “Trump to win in 2024 & to live another 100 years” — spoke about what role they believed Trump played in Nichols’ radicalization. But Nichols is one of many Jan. 6 defendants who later indicated that they felt duped by Trump’s lies. Nichols, in his 2021 FBI interview, “stated he no longer trusted the president or other prominent legal leaders because he felt they had led him in the wrong direction,” mentioning “statements made by President Trump, Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell, General Michael Flynn, and Lin Wood that helped him form his opinion.”

Nichols, a military veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder, told Judge Lamberth on Thursday that he apologized for inflicting pain and trauma on the law enforcement officers at the Capitol. A tearful Nichols said that he wanted to help other people who were incarcerated and that he had learned from his mistakes, calling his words disgusting and saying he was deeply ashamed of his rhetoric.

“I went absolutely crazy,” Nichols said, adding that he felt his “debt to society has been paid in full.”

“I do not stand for violence,” said Nichols, who repeatedly said the opposite three years ago.

More than 1,387 defendants have been charged in connection with the Capitol attack, with prosecutors approaching 1,000 convictions. Hundreds of low-level rioters have received sentences of probation, but over 520 defendants have gotten prison sentences from a few days behind bars to 22 years in federal prison. Only about 15 defendants remain in pretrial custody, while the rest of the incarcerated Jan. 6 defendants have been convicted of crimes.

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com

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