Brendan Hunt — whose father is a retired judge and who allegedly threatened the lives of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, now-Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — was sentenced Monday to 19 months in prison after being found guilty of one count of threatening to assault or murder US officials.
“We will not tolerate threats to members of the United States Congress or calls to overthrow our democratically elected government,” US Attorney of the Eastern District of New York Breon Peace said in a statement.
“Not only will we investigate and vigorously prosecute these crimes, but today’s sentence sends a clear message that those who seek to harm our representatives and bring chaos to our democracy will be punished,” he said.
Hunt, the son of retired New York City family court judge John Hunt, had been convicted by a jury in Brooklyn federal court in April.
Prosecutors argued at the time that Hunt had posted videos of himself at his Queens home in January discussing the January 6 riot at the US Capitol, threatening to kill senators and encouraging others to go back to the Capitol on Inauguration Day and take their guns.
Hunt took the stand in his own defense during the trial, telling the court that he didn’t really mean what he said in videos and messaging apps about killing elected officials. Hunt testified that he didn’t think his rhetoric about killing elected officials could bear real penal consequences because he’d seen the prevalence of “kill Trump” rhetoric, especially from celebrities.
In a Facebook account registered to HuntBrendan, prosecutors said, Hunt posted his praise in December for people who have fought back against Covid-19 mitigation protocols — and praised violence against police but also said people should instead “go after a high value target” like Pelosi, Schumer or Ocasio-Cortez.
Prosecutors also showed the jury text messages that Hunt allegedly sent to his father around the time of the presidential election. In the string of messages, Hunt allegedly mentioned Adolf Hitler and said the American people would support then-President Donald Trump if he overrode the democratic process like Hitler did to remain president despite the election looking like it was leaning in now-President Joe Biden’s favor.
When asked about discriminatory rants to his father in private text messages, Hunt testified that he purposely said extreme statements to anger his dad but doesn’t actually hold racist beliefs.
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