ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) – A United States Capitol Police officer drove thousands of miles to Homer, Alaska for an FBI raid on a woman’s home, looking for an item stolen during the January 6 uprising and the person who took it.
“We are looking for Nancy Pelosi’s laptop,” officers told Marilyn Hueper after briefly handcuffing her. Hueper retaliated, “That still doesn’t explain why you are at my house. Or in Homer, Alaska.”
They would come out with iPads, cell phones and a pocket copy of the Declaration of Independence. They took a laptop, but it was not from the Speaker’s office. And it’s possible they’ve got the wrong person – even though Hueper looks suspiciously like the thief.
Massive Justice Department Prosecutions Against Those Who Stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan.6 not been without problems, including this potential instance of mistaken identity. And as Republicans increasingly seek to downplay the insurgency and minimize the horror of the day, any faux pas by federal prosecutors could be used in this effort to discredit what really happened.
Federal prosecutors have charged more than 400 people, the ministry’s largest enterprise, including dozens of defendants who posted images of their crimes online and boasted of having entered the sacred building. Some face serious charges and considerable prison terms.
Hueper and her husband first came to the attention of authorities this year when Alaska Airlines banned the couple in February for refusing to wear masks on a flight, according to court documents obtained by The Associated Press. Then two more people called tips saying they recognized Hueper in photos authorities posted of suspects wanted for storming the Capitol.
The insurgents sought to disrupt President Joe Biden’s certification of victory. Hundreds of officers were injured and five people died after the riot, including a Capitol policeman.
Supporters of then-President Donald Trump ransacked offices, searched papers and lawmakers’ desks, smashed windows, smashed windows, and tore up signs. Among the stolen items: Pelosi’s office laptop, his lectern, an iPad owned by majority Whip Rep. Jim Clyburn and other electronic devices.
But the sheer volume of people inside the Capitol building, along with the lack of arrests made around the time of the riot, made it difficult to identify people, even with the glut of evidence on social media. Federal agents searched thousands of social media posts, obtained scan warrants for cell phone information in the Capitol area, used facial recognition tools, and obtained logs of devices that connected to Congress Wi-Fi during the riot.
But by far the most effective tool for federal agents has been the old-fashioned advice. Many rioters were denounced by their friends and family members.
The mandate, obtained by the AP, identifies Hueper as the woman who took the laptop.
But they are wrong, Hueper insists. She told the AP that another woman wearing her same coat and with a similar hairstyle was inside the Capitol during the uprising, not her. She admits that she was in Washington, DC, for Trump’s rally that day, but says she did not come more than 100 meters (91 meters) from the Capitol and spent part of the day to get lost in an unknown city.
She said officers showed her a photo of the woman inside the Capitol, and they looked so similar that Hueper wondered if anyone had used photo editing software to put it in the photo.
The warrant details how FBI agents located an image showing Hueper wearing similar clothing in a photo on her husband’s Instagram account. He said Hueper’s husband also posted photos of them near the Capitol. “BEST OF 2020,” he wrote in one, pointing to her from behind as she approached the building. “Marilyn approaches the capital. As patriots, there is a revolution just to take back our country … Being there was a unique experience. STOP THE FLIGHT! “
Hueper said an officer returned with a different, larger photo of the woman, which showed the alleged thief wearing a black sweater with large white snowflakes on it. The officer asked where in the house they could find the sweater.
Hueper said she reiterated that she was not inside the building. “No. 2, why didn’t you show me this picture to start? Because we both can obviously see here that he’s a different person.
Plus, she said, the sweater was hideous.
Hueper said she grabbed the photo and held it next to her face, asking the female agent to take a close look at them: “Me. Sa. Me. She, ”she told the officer. Hueper said the officer grabbed the paper and walked away.
Both women wore black Columbia down coats. However, in a photo posted to her husband’s Facebook page from Jan.6, Hueper wears a black mask, a green blouse open at the collar and a light green scarf. Surveillance video released by the FBI shows the wanted woman wearing the black sweater with a snowflake print and dangling earrings. Additionally, the woman in the photo has detached earlobes, while Hueper says hers are attached.
After insisting, Hueper was shown the first page of the warrant but was not allowed to read the document carefully, she said. She only read it after receiving a copy when the dozen officers and the Capitol cop left.
According to the search warrants, officers could collect any electronic device that may be suspected of having been involved, items stolen from the Capitol, a laptop with descriptors and a serial number – “which they did not find. She said – and all the paperwork. related to violence planning.
Hueper said she had not heard from federal authorities, and that officers had not returned her laptop, two iPads, two cell phones, or the pocket-sized 50-cent Declaration of Independence booklet. ‘they confiscated on April 28.
She was not arrested. Justice Department officials would only say the investigation is ongoing.
But she decided to go public with her story, just in case.
“I’d better go online and protect myself before they call me and make me that person,” she said.
Balsamo reported from Washington.