Greg Rubenacker, who joined the Jan. 6 mob that chased Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman, has become the first known defendant facing assault charges to cooperate with lawmakers investigating the attack, court filings reveal.
In a memo pleading for leniency from Judge Beryl Howell, Rubenacker says he spent “several hours” interviewing with Jan. 6 select committee investigators, although he doesn’t indicate when. He says this is one of several ways he has taken responsibility and shown remorse for his conduct. His attorney is asking Howell to sentence him to a year of home confinement.
But prosecutors say Rubenacker deserves much harsher punishment, noting that he exhibited aggressive and violent behavior toward Goodman and other officers. He joined a line of rioters pushing against police as they attempted to clear the rotunda, and he ultimately swung a water bottle that hit an officer in the helmet, according to photos and videos of the attack.
Rubenacker pleaded guilty without a plea deal to 10 charges, including felony counts of civil disorder, obstruction of Congress and assault. The Justice Department is seeking a 46-month prison term.
“Rubenacker, one of the first four or five rioters at the front of the mob, continued to chase Officer Goodman near the entrance to the Senate Chamber where Rubenacker berated other officers and nearby rioters screamed, ‘back up!’ and ‘Go arrest the Vice President!’” Assistant U.S. Attorneys Laura Hill and Troy Edwards, Jr. wrote in their sentencing memo.
Rubenacker was also among a group of defendants who smoked marijuana inside the Capitol during the breach, and he posted a video of himself smiling and saying, “Smoke out the Capitol, baby!” Though his attorney says he was largely a follower who was goaded into his behavior, prosecutors described his actions in harsher and more ominous terms.
“When officers formed a line to force rioters out, Rubenacker escalated in response: he swung a water bottle at one officer’s head and threw liquid at other officers who were engaging with a rioter,” they write. “Only after an officer sprayed chemical-irritant spray in Rubenacker’s face did he finally leave the Capitol, over one hour after he initially breached the building.”
Prosecutors say Goodman’s quick thinking prevented the mob, with Rubenacker included, from reaching senators before they evacuated from the Capitol.
“Indeed, if the officer had not deliberately led the group of rioters away from the Senate chamber—to which there was an unimpeded path—Rubenacker and the rioters with him might have come face to face with U.S. Senators,” they write.