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Mark Middleton and Jalise Middleton at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Photo: FBI/Department of Justice.

A North Texas man charged with assaulting police officers during January's Capitol riot is a Republican Party precinct chair and has been an election poll worker, CNN reported Wednesday.

Details: Mark Middleton, 52, was appointed as the GOP chair of Precinct 14 in Cooke County during a meeting last December, Cooke County Republican Party chair Chris McNamara told Axios in an email.

  • "Precinct Chairs are an elected position in the Party or can be appointed to fill a vacancy and there is no mechanism in Texas election law to remove a sitting precinct chairman in this situation," McNamara said.

The big picture: Per a criminal complaint from the Department of Justice and the FBI, the precinct chair was arrested last week, along with Jalise Middleton after the couple from Forestburg were identified from body camera footage allegedly assaulting two Metropolitan Police Department officers guarding the Capitol.

  • They've also been charged with remaining on restricted grounds, though they do not appear to have entered the Capitol complex.
  • The Middletons have pleaded not guilty to all seven federal charges they each face.

Of note: Middleton is one of "multiple rioters with local Republican Party ties," CNN notes.

  • Others include former West Virginia House of Delegates lawmaker Derrick Evans and former California Republican Assembly State Board secretary Jorge Riley.

What they're saying: McNamara told Axios he'd only known Middleton for a short time, "but the behavior he has been accused of seems very out of the character to me."  

  • "This is not the Mark I know and I was very surprised," he added.
"The Cooke County Republican Party does not condone or support the actions that the Middleton’s are accused of. I am deeply saddened and disappointed by the events that took place on January 6th."

Go deeper

Former GOP lawmaker joins Jan. 6 House committee staff

Photo: Thomas McKinless/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images

Former Virginia Rep. Denver Riggleman will join the staff serving the House select committee in its investigation of the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, CNN reported Friday.

Why it matters: The former Air Force intelligence officer is the third Republican Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has brought on to the select panel, which Republican lawmakers have attacked as partisan.

At least 3 dead after Amtrak train derails in Montana

Photo: Jacob Cordeiro/Twitter

An Amtrak train derailed near Joplin, Montana, resulting in at least three deaths and multiple injuries to passengers and crew on Saturday, per authorities and a company statement.

The big picture: 141 passengers and 16 crew members were estimated to be on the Empire Builder train, traveling from Chicago to Seattle and Portland, when eight of the 10 cars derailed about 4p.m., Amtrak said early Sunday.

Updated 7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Federal judge blocks vaccine mandate for NYC teachers

Students are dismissed from the first day of school at PS 133 in Brooklyn on Sept. 13. Photo: Michael Nagle/Xinhua via Getty Images

A federal appeals court is set to hear a challenge Wednesday to a vaccine mandate planned for New York City school employees.

Why it matters The vaccine mandate was set to begin on Monday, prompting concerns over staffing shortages in schools across the nation's largest school system. But a judge on Friday temporarily blocked the measure, per AP.

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