Federal prosecutors are allegedly working with insurrectionist and Iced Earth founder Jon Schaffer on a cooperation deal regarding his involvement in the January 6 riot at the Capitol.
According to BuzzFeed News, the talks on a deal are in the "advanced" stages. Assistant US Attorney Ahmed Baset wrote that Schaffer's cooperation "may reveal the existence, scope, and direction of the ongoing and confidential investigation."
The public filing was made in error, according to Buzzfeed News, as prosecutors intended to file it under seal to avoid this sorta thing. Of the more than 350 people charged to date, some others arrested have been offered similar plea offers. However, no specifics of the plea deals have been revealed.
Buzzfeed News notes the filing wrote that the negotiations with Schaffer were “the first and most advanced” involving “any of the over 300 Capitol Riot defendants.”
A few weeks ago, a federal court upheld a pre-trial detention order for Schaffer to remain in jail and offered new insight on what the government will be investigating.
After Schaffer's bail was denied, his attorney filed a "motion to amend detention order," claiming that "the government failed to establish Mr. Schaffer's dangerous to the community by clear and convincing evidence." Scaffer's attorney tried to make the case that Schaffer is of no threat to society:
"Mr. Schaffer is 53 years old. He has no criminal convictions. He does not have a substance abuse or mental health issue. He has no history of violence and was not violent on January 6, 2021. He entered the capitol with pepper spray. He did not threaten anyone with or discharge the spray. He left the capitol after approximately sixty seconds and returned home to Indiana."
A federal judge did not seem moved by the statement, as on March 24 an "order of detention pending trial" was filed saying that Schaffer must be detailed until the trial because "the Government has proven by clear and convincing evidence that no condition or combination of conditions of release will reasonably assure the safety of any other person and the community."
The order contains the first detailed account of Schaffer's actions from the government's point of view. In the order, the Government makes the claim that Schaffer was among the first people to breach the Capitol building during the January 6th riots and questions his affiliations to the "Oath Keepers."
"In response to the Government's exhibit of Mr. Schaffer speaking at a rally in November 2020, Mr. Schaffer argues that he was simply explaining his political views. When asked about violence in the video interview, Mr. Schaffer responded that he didn't want violence, but that he was prepared to meet any violence with self defense. In response to the video that shows him entering the Capitol, Mr. Schaffer argues he was only in the building for 60 seconds and only unholstered the bear spray in question because he thought someone was trying to take it. Mr. Schaffer said he is not a flight risk because he voluntarily contacted his lawyer and surrendered himself. He is a high profile musician so would have difficulty fleeing. He has a stable girlfriend, stable residence, and a daughter. He is 52 years old with no criminal history or substance abuse problems. Mr. Schaffer argues the weight of the evidence is weak, as the Government did not provide evidence that he knowingly entered the Capitol building unlawfully. There was no evidence of violence presented and Mr. Schaffer says he is not affiliated with the 'Oath Keepers.'
"Mr. Schaffer is charged with carrying a dangerous weapon (bear spray) onto restricted, Capitol grounds. His actions on January 6, 2021, during the certification of the electoral college vote, were shocking to the rule of law and the democratic process. As Chief Judge Howell noted in United States v. Barnett, the title of the offense does not 'properly capture the scope of what [the defendant] is accused of doing here.' In this case, there appears to be premeditation and a weapon present. Mr. Schaffer appeared in the video to be one of the first people to breach the Capitol. There is some evidence, and evidence still being developed, that defendant is affiliated with groups that present ongoing threats of danger to the community, e.g., the 'Oath Keepers.'
"The government presented a number of exhibits at the detention hearing that show Mr. Schaffer was in possession of bear spray. There is video of him clearly entering the Capitol and three police officers that appear to fall back in self defense. Thus, it doesn't seem likely or reasonable Mr. Schaffer was under the impression he was 'invited in' by Capitol law enforcement.
"Mr. Schaffer has no criminal history and no documented history of substance abuse. He is employed and has a stable residence. It is true he is within his rights to demonstrate and share his political views through lawful means. This case concerns unlawful means of demonstration. Mr. Schaffer's status as a firearms owner does not have any bearing, negative or positive, on this decision.
"While Mr. Schaffer is most likely not a serious flight risk due to his status as a well-known musician, there remains the concern of danger to the community. Mr. Schaffer's views on the government and current administration are long held. His statements, including the November 2020 interview, show that this was not an isolated event. He has stated there would be 'bloodshed' if the current administration came to power. This transfer of power has taken place, so it cannot be assured Mr. Schaffer will not engage in further violence to support his political ideology if released. The Government alleges Mr. Schaffer is a lifetime member of the 'Oath Keepers,' which is an organization that has questioned the legitimacy of the government and threatened political violence. Last, although Mr. Schaffer claimed he would only respond to violence in self defense, there was no violence directed against him on January 6, 2021, yet he engaged in violent and destructive behavior when he entered the Capitol armed with a weapon."
The FBI has charged Schaffer with six different charges, one of which accuses him of spraying Capitol police with bear spray, a more potent form of pepper spray. Schaffer is not guaranteed bail, and must prove that he is not a threat to himself or the public to be granted so. Schaffer is dealing with the following charges:
- Knowingly Entering or Remaining in any Restricted Building or Grounds Without Lawful Authority
- Disrupting the Orderly Conduct of Government Business
- Knowingly Engaging in an Act of Physical Violence Against any Person or Property in any Restricted Building or Grounds
- Violent Entry and Disorderly Conduct in a Capitol Building
- Engaging in an Act of Physical Violence in a Capitol Building
- Parading, Demonstrating, or Picketing in a Capitol Building
Security footage has surfaced showing Iced Earth guitarist Jon Schaffer storming the Capitol building and getting into a shoving match with Capitol police trying to stop the insurrection.