Indianz.Com > News > Self-proclaimed Native Republican Jorge Riley pleads guilty for U.S. Capitol attack
Jorge Riley
Jorge Aaron Riley, center, exits the U.S. Courthouse in Washington, D.C, following his guilty plea on March 7, 2023. Photo by Indianz.Com (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)
Self-proclaimed Native Republican Jorge Riley pleads guilty for U.S. Capitol attack
Thursday, March 9, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C. — It took more than two years but a self-proclaimed Native Republican wore his “best Trump tie” to court here and finally admitted he was wrong for participating in a violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

Standing only a half-mile from the site of the deadly attack, Jorge Aaron Riley pleaded guilty to one felony count of obstruction of an official proceeding on Tuesday afternoon. He admitted that he tried to stop the U.S. Congress from confirming the results of an election that Republican former president Donald Trump lost.

“I plead guilty, your honor,” Riley told Judge Amit P. Mehta during a half-hour hearing in federal court.

The hearing marked Riley’s first appearance in the nation’s capital since the attack on January 6, 2021, an event he gleefully documented on social media. More than 150 photos, videos and posts from the fateful day show him in a sort of Native caricature, with makeup on his face that he described as “war paint” and feathers in his hair, breaking into the U.S. Capitol and boasting of his role in preventing lawmakers from carrying out their official duties.

“I’m going for the war,” Riley said on a social media account that was shut down following the violent siege on the legislative branch of the U.S. government.

“Hey We’re storming the Capitol…. what are you doing?” he later said.

Jorge Riley
“I’m in the front where do you think I am,” Jorge Aaron Riley wrote on social media from inside the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, wearing self-described “war paint” on his face and feathers in his hair.

Two years later, Riley was once again back in Washington, D.C., with non-descript feathers in his hair. But in his suit and that “best Trump tie” at the E. Barrett Prettyman Federal Courthouse, he faced stern questions from Mehta, who wanted to make sure that the self-described “French-speaking Native American Messianic Jewish right-wing conservative Republican” was taking his criminal case seriously.

“It doesn’t seem to contain an admission of state of mind for Mr. Riley — specifically, that he acted corruptly,” Mehta said of the seven-page statement of offense that was negotiated ahead of the hearing.

“Don’t take this the wrong way, Mr. Riley,” Mehta continued, “but I had one — and I know other judges have had defendants in similar cases — after they’ve entered guilty pleas, essentially walk out and say ‘I didn’t commit the crime.’”

“So, you know, I don’t want to be in that position,” the judge said.

After Mehta made his concerns clear, the statement was modified on the spot to ensure that it contains an admission that Riley indeed acted “corruptly” when he took part in the violent attack. The federal prosecutor handling the case was quick to acknowledge the oversight.

“Frankly, I’m a little embarrassed,” Troy A. Edwards, Jr., an assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, said of the omission of a critical word, one that ensures Riley shouldn’t be able to claim he didn’t commit a crime.

United States of America v. Jorge Aaron Riley
Statement of Offense: PDF
Plea Agreement: PDF

With assurances that he committed the crime, Riley awaits sentencing on September 6. He faces a maximum of 20 years in prison, plus a maximum fine of $250,000, for his crime though his plea agreement envisions a lesser punishment of 15 months to 21 months.

However, due to the nature of the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol, which led to the loss of lives, injuries to numerous first responders and millions of dollars of damage to government property, it is possible that a longer sentence could be imposed. Riley’s plea agreement also notes that he pleaded guilty to child endangerment back home in California — though the case was eventually dismissed after he met conditions imposed by a court in Sacramento County in 2017.

“As part of this plea agreement, the government has reserved the right to seek an additional enhancement,” Judge Mehta said on Tuesday, “based upon their belief that you caused or threatened to cause physical injury to a person, property damage in order to obstruct the administration of justice.”

“Do you understand that?” the judge asked.

“Yes, I do, your honor,” Riley replied.

According to the Department of Justice, more than 999 people have been arrested in nearly all 50 states for participating in the breach of the U.S. Capitol. With encouragement from Donald Trump, right-wing groups, conservative media and top Republicans — including some lawmakers who ended up escaping the siege — a mob of thousands sought to overturn the results of the 2020 election even though it was rightly won by President Joe Biden, a Democrat.

“We stopped the steal because they were in there and they weren’t going to stop the steal, so we stopped the steal, we took our country back,” Riley said on social media on January 6, 2021.

During the hearing, though, Riley did not address what led him to wrongly believe the election had been stolen. He also did not talk about his vague claim of being Native American, an identity he has asserted at least as far back as his college years in California. He has never publicly identified himself as being with a particular tribal nation or tribal group.

But Riley’s statement of offense explains how one particular individual played a major role in spreading the false stolen election narrative. The criminal behavior is tied directly to the Republican former president, who served just one term is office.

Just four days before the January 6 attack, Riley posted that he had “just bought new kanai throwing knives and am going to do what my president asks.”

Jorge Aaron Riley
Jorge Aaron Riley, second from right, exits the federal court house in Washington, D.C, following his guilty plea on March 7, 2023. Photo by Indianz.Com (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

Another post showed his intent to bring those weapons to the U.S Capitol in support of Donald Trump: “I’m thinking war paint and feathers to go with my kanai blades.”

And even at the conclusion of the hearing on Tuesday, Riley apparently still had the former president, who is running for the highest executive office in the U.S. again, on his mind.

“Your honor, I’m supposed to tell you I wore my best Trump tie for you,” Riley said of his attire.

Judge Mehta chuckled.

“Thank you, I appreciate it,” Mehta said.

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