Politico

Prosecutors charge Jan. 6 rioter with stealing laptop from Pelosi's office


Prosecutors have formally charged a Jan. 6 rioter with stealing a laptop from Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office and selling or disposing of it.

Riley Williams, one of more than 600 defendants charged for breaching the Capitol, had long been suspected of making off with the computer. The newly issued indictment describes it as a Hewlett-Packard laptop “located in the offices of a member of the U.S. Congress.” Video that Williams allegedly shot as she paraded through Pelosi’s office suggested she grabbed the laptop and made off with it. Prosecutors in January said witnesses, including a former partner, indicated she had intended to sell it.

The formal charge suggests prosecutors now believe they can prove Williams’ theft beyond a reasonable doubt. Dozens of rioters on Jan. 6 stampeded into Pelosi’s office suite, ransacking desks and posing for photos while her staff took cover in a nearby conference room. Williams is also facing seven other felony and misdemeanor counts for her participation in the Capitol breach, including a newly added charge for assaulting or resistant police officers.

The Justice Department had indicated in January that it was preparing to charge Williams with the laptop theft, but it took eight more months for the formal indictment to come down, as prosecutors continue to advance what they call the most complex investigation in its history.

It’s unclear whether investigators substantiated any other aspects of the laptop theft that they first raised in January. At the time, witnesses said Williams had told them she intended to sell the laptop, possibly to foreign adversaries.

“[Witness 1] stated that WILLIAMS intended to send the computer device to a friend in Russia, who then planned to sell the device to SVR, Russia’s foreign intelligence service,” the agent noted. “According to [Witness 1], the transfer of the computer device to Russia fell through for unknown reasons and WILLIAMS still has the computer device or destroyed it.”

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