Mar 13, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Navy contractor arrested in Capitol riot was a known white supremacist

Trump supporters assaulting police officers outside of the U.S. Capitol US Capitol on Jan. 6 in Washington, D.C.
Trump supporters assaulting police officers outside of the U.S. Capitol US Capitol on Jan. 6 in Washington, D.C. Photo: Brent Stirton/Getty Images

Timothy Hale-Cusanelli, a U.S. Army reservist and a security contractor for the Navy who was arrested for allegedly breaching the Capitol during the Jan. 6 riot, was a known white supremacist, federal prosecutors said Friday, as first reported by Politico.

Why it matters: "Not only is Defendant's White Supremacist and Nazi Sympathizer ideology obvious from the evidence, that same ideology drives Defendant's enthusiasm for another Civil War," prosecutors said.

  • Hale-Cusanelli allegedly discussed his hatred of Jews, minorities and women while working as a security contractor at Naval Weapons Station Earle in Monmouth County, New Jersey.

Context: A new filing from federal prosecutors on Friday included the results of a Naval Criminal Investigative Service investigation into Hale-Cusanelli.

  • The investigation included interviews with 44 of Hale-Cusanelli's colleagues, 34 of whom agreed that he held “extremist or radical views pertaining to the Jewish people, minorities, and women.”

What they're saying: One of Hale-Cusanelli's colleagues said the defendant had "shaved his facial hair into a 'Hitler mustache,'" and prosecutors extracted photos of the mustache from Hale-Cusanelli's phone.

  • A Navy petty officer told investigators they remembered Hale-Cusanelli saying, "Hitler should have finished the job."

The big picture: Hale-Cusanelli’s case has received attention from the military because his reservist status and his employment at a military facility and underscores the challenges the Department of Defense faces while attempting to combat extremist ideologies within the ranks of the armed forces.

  • The Pentagon reported this month that domestic extremist groups have attempted to recruit active and former service members into their ranks.
  • Several former military members and police officers participated in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, which the FBI classified as domestic terrorism.
  • Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin last month ordered commanding officers and supervisors to eventually hold a one-day "stand-down" to discuss extremism within the armed forces.
Go deeper