Of all the people of note at his weekend rally in Pennsylvania, former President Donald Trump gave stage time to a single Jan. 6 New Jersey rioter who dressed like Adolf Hitler and told his colleagues that the führer “should have finished the job”, according to the investigators.
Insurgent Timothy Hale-Cusanelli’s aunt pleaded sympathy for her nephew from the scene of Trump’s rally on Saturday in Wilkes-Barre.
“Tim traveled to the nation’s capital to hear his president speak” last year, Cynthia Hughes told the crowd.
“He was wearing a suit and tie and his favorite hat. Tim wanted to take part in what he thought was a historic event. Instead, he attended a horror show,” she added.
But she omitted a few salient points about Hale-Cusanelli, who was convicted in May of multiple counts in the riot, including civil disorder and obstruction of official process.
While working as a security contractor at Naval Weapons Station Earle in New Jersey before his arrest, Cusanelli often made white supremacist and anti-Semitic comments to his colleagues, according to a federal court filing against him last year.
He also showed up to work with a “Hitler mustache” and styled his short black hair to look like Hitler’s, according to the motion.
Thirty-four colleagues interviewed by Navy investigators as part of an internal probe said Hale-Cusanelli held “extremist or radical views regarding Jewish people, minorities and women.” Some said they were “afraid” of him.
“Being an Adolf Hitler supporter puts you in the fascist category. There’s no ‘semi’ in that,” Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) told CNN’s Jim Acosta on Sunday, referencing President Joe Biden last week, calling MAGA extremism “semi-fascism.”
Hale-Cusanelli told federal investigators he stormed the Capitol to disrupt the certification of electoral votes for President Joe Biden, and was only “following the pleas of then-Commander-in-Chief” Donald Trump , prosecutors said in the court filing.
The federal petition successfully sought to block Hale-Cusanelli’s bail because of his “fantasy of participating in another civil war,” the court document says. He remains behind bars awaiting sentencing.
Hughes called his nephew “sort of a poster boy for Jan. 6 injustice,” CNN national security correspondent Zachary Cohen told Acosta on Sunday.
Yet the judge — in this case, a Trump appointee — was “so concerned that his violent neo-Nazi rhetoric is turning from words to violence.” [that he] decided to keep him in jail while his trial unfolded,” Cohen noted.
There are “a ton of defendants from January 6 that the former president could have chosen from in terms of presenting them to defend or at least try to gain sympathy from the people who were on Capitol Hill on January 6,” said Cohen. However, “it was the case that finally took center stage”.