Dozens of defendants accused of storming the United States Capitol are said to have rushed to remove footage showing them participating in the disturbing event, according to a report.
According to Associated press, who reviewed the files of these defendants, at least 49 defendants were charged with attempting to erase photos, texts and videos or social media accounts that allegedly linked them to the riots on Capitol Hill on January 6.
The agency added that experts commented that the effort to remove any traces they played in the assault on Capitol Hill showed a willingness to manipulate the evidence once pro-Trump supporters realized that ‘they could face consequences for interrupting the certification of Joe Biden’s election victory.
Experts added that this could serve as proof of the guilt of the alleged defendants, making it more difficult for them to get plea deals or a more lenient sentence.
Gabriel J. Chin, who teaches criminal law at the University of California at Davis, told AP, “It makes them difficult, makes them sneaky.”
But deleting content from the internet isn’t as easy as deleting phones or shutting down social media accounts, as investigators have been successful in obtaining information from businesses, including when pages are deleted.
Adam Scott Wandt, professor of public policy at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, told the Associated press that messages posted to Facebook, Instagram and other major platforms will be recoverable for a while.
Law enforcement is also asking these companies to keep records of suspected criminals for a period of time until they are able to obtain court orders to view the publications.
The report went on to claim that only some of the 500 people who were arrested in connection with the storming of the Capitol were accused of suppressing incriminating evidence from their accounts.
Several of those accused of suppressing incriminating information are suspected members of the extremist organization Oath Keepers who are accused of attempting to block certification of Biden’s victory.
The Southern Poverty Law Center described the Oath Keepers as “one of the largest anti-government groups in the United States today.”
Lawyers representing some of those accused of deliberately removing social media posts and deleting texts, as well as other information, said their clients did so only to limit the impact of the attack on their families and show that they did not support the riot.
Accused rioter Matthew Mark Wood, who allegedly admitted to deleting content from his phone and Facebook account that showed his presence in the Capitol building on the day of the riot, reportedly told an FBI agent that he did not did not want to disrupt the certification of the Electoral College.
Investigators, however, said two of his deleted Facebook posts showed a different version of events.
the Associated press FBI court records reported that Wood was happy to send “these politicians on a run” and said he had resisted a tyrannical government.
Wood reportedly wrote, “When diplomacy isn’t working and your message hasn’t been delivered, it shouldn’t surprise you when we revolt.”