Anti-Trump activist John Earle Sullivan is caught up in another legal tangle in addition to the criminal charges he faces in Provo, Utah, for a summer protest and in Washington for the Jan. 6 invasion of the U.S. Capitol.
Mr. Sullivan, a Black Lives Matter supporter, accused social media journalist Andy Ngo, who chronicles Antifa, of being a Capitol rioter who fled the country afterward.
Mr. Ngo, who testified last month to a House panel about Antifa’s wave of violence, says he was not there and is threatening to sue.
Mr. Sullivan, a Utah-based “anti-fascist” who sells Antifa-style black clothing on his website, is one of the more prominent of an estimated 800 Capitol invaders.
Via cellphone camera, he recorded his own incursion and captured on video the killing of Trump supporter Ashli Babbitt by U.S. Capitol Police as she tried to breach the House speaker’s lobby. His rioting landed him a live interview on CNN, which paid him $35,000 for rights to his video.
The Office of the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia sought to ban Mr. Sullivan from internet platforms, given the fact that he encouraged Trump supporters to invade the Capitol and, once inside, urged them to set it on fire.
But a magistrate judge only banned Mr. Sullivan from operating his Insurgence USA group. Mr. Sullivan had summoned them online to come to Washington on Jan. 6 for President Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington.
In late February, Mr. Sullivan, who has used the moniker “JaydenX” on Twitter and YouTube, tweeted that he found Mr. Ngo in the Capitol’s protest crowd. He published a photo of an Asian man wearing goggles and a camouflage face mask while holding a traditional camera.
“Right-wing journalist @MrAndyNgo was at the #CapitolRiots then fled to Paris the day after to avoid prosecution from the US Government,” Mr. Sullivan tweeted. “It seems like someone is guilty; he needs some accountability my question is where is his footage?”
Mr. Ngo retweeted the post on March 1 with a simple reply: “I was not there and the person in this photo is not me.”
Several days later, Mr. Ngo’s attorney, Harmeet K. Dhillon of San Francisco, sent a four-page letter to Mr. Sullivan demanding a retraction. Mr. Dhillon accused him of racism for thinking his client was a rioter based only on his Asian features.
“You have publicly accused Mr. Ngo of participating in the January 6, 2021, riots and then fleeing abroad in an effort to avoid prosecution,” the letter said. “These defamatory claims, made on Twitter and your personal website, are baseless and made with knowledge they were false.”
Mr. Dhillon added: “The unreasonable and racist reasoning behind your claim — there was an Asian man at the riot with me, Andy Ngo is an Asian man, therefore Andy Ngo was at the riot with me — shows that, at the very least, you acted with reckless disregard for whether your statements were false because you had no factual basis for such a claim.”
A Washington Times check of two JaydenX Twitter accounts shows that one has been suspended and the other erased.
The letter said Mr. Sullivan also made his Ngo claims on a website. It quoted Mr. Sullivan: “Ngo fleed [sic] the country to the United Kingdom immediately after the uprising at the United States Capitol Andy stood in front of me the entire time during the insurrection with his tan hood pulled up over his black baseball cap, wearing clear goggles and a black and grey camo face covering In fear of being found connected with the riot, Ngo fled the country to avoid prosecution from the US Government due to his direct involvement in the insurrection.”
The FBI’s affidavit for arresting Mr. Sullivan said he had appeared at an anti-Trump demonstration in August in Washington, where he exhorted the crowd “we about to burn this s—- down” and “We got to rip Trump out of office.”
At the Capitol, Mr. Sullivan, wearing a pro-Trump “Make America Great Again” cap, is heard on his video saying: “There are so many people. Let’s go. This s—- is ours! F—- yeah,” “We accomplished this s—-. We did this together. F—- yeah! We are all a part of this history,” and “Let’s burn this s—- down.”
Inside the corridors, he told others, “We gotta get this s—- burned.”
Mr. Sullivan faces prosecution in U.S. District Court in Washington after a grand jury last month indicted him on six charges including interfering with police, invading a restricted building and illegal entry.
In Utah, Mr. Sullivan helped organize what police called an illegal protest downtown on June 29 because no permit was issued. Mr. Sullivan was charged with blocking and damaging vehicles during protests that saw two gunshots fired at cars. He yelled profanities and threatened drivers, a police affidavit says.
Mr. Sullivan, who lives in a Salt Lake City suburb, also urged followers to attend the Capitol protest and gather on the National Mall. At this point, it is unclear if his allies showed up.
Attorney Steven R. Kiersh filed a memorandum urging the magistrate to let Mr. Sullivan stay online.
“Defendant is a decent, honest young man who has been utterly mischaracterized by pleadings filed in this Court and comments attributed to him have been taken out of context,” the lawyer said.
Mr. Kiersh declined to comment to The Times about the Ngo complaint.
• Rowan Scarborough can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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