Article By Laura Elizabeth Jenkins
Special Contribution from Tommy Tatum
Imagine a discussion around your family’s kitchen table reaching the desk of FBI agents and federal prosecutors. Your own son is recording your private conversations and testifies against you. You are found guilty of felonies that seem complex and difficult to understand.
This is what happened to Jan. 6 defendant Guy Reffitt, a Texas father, this past Tuesday. Reffitt is the first Jan. 6 defendant on trial in the largest domestic criminal investigation in US history. Two of his teenage children were called by Prosecutors Jeffrey Nestler and Risa Berkower of the United States Attorney’s Office to serve as witnesses against him. Only one took the stand.
Reffit’s 19 year-old son Jackson told DC District Court Judge Dabney Friedrich he initiated contact with the FBI the day before Christmas. A self-identified leftist who lives away from his parents, Jackson told the FBI his father was a “right-wing extremist.”
Jackson Reffitt agreed to privately record political conversations between himself and his father. The FBI’s Officer Hightower contacted him thirteen days later on Jan. 6th and instructed him to download an app to his cell phone for use when his father returned. Jackson was coached to banter back and forth with his father on several occasions. He asked vague questions that provoked passionate discussions. For example, he asked:
“Are you worried about the cops getting you? Aren’t you worried about somebody recording you?”
“You know what happens to traitors. Traitors get shot,” his dad replied.
This preplanned discussion his son initiated became grounds for the DOJ’s “obstruction of justice” charges against Guy Reffitt. His son-who came onto his property with the intent to spy-later claimed the conversation caused him to feel uncomfortable and “threatened.”
Similar conversations and text messages Jackson forwarded to the FBI were simply examples of ranting and raving. While not all of these conversations were played in court, Guy Reffitt seems to speak from a position of anger and disgust as his son’s remarks frustrate him. He does not detail a specific plot to harm individual or carry out a particular crime. These remarks are protected under the First Amendment.
This is not the only Jan. 6 case in which those close to defendants worked with the government to turn them in. FBI documents show countless instances of high school classmates, former co-workers, disgruntled girlfriends, and even neighborhood business patrons reporting vocal Trump supporters to law enforcement. The DC Metropolitan Police Department offered to pay individuals $1,000 after Jan. 6 for correctly identifying individuals at the Capitol after the Stop the Steal rally.
Prosecutors grilled Jackson Reffitt about his father’s safe storage of guns at home and his habit of wearing a red Trump hat outside of this house.
“To say it’s unusual [for kids to testify against parents is an understatement,” said civil rights attorney John Burns.
“It’s permissible for a prosecutor to call a defendant’s child as a witness against him, but it’s highly immoral and cowardly in all but perhaps sex abuse cases,”
“More to the point, it’s the height of barbarism. It’s a move that betrays the Department of Justice’s moral bankruptcy and desperation – the DOJ clowns’ best hope for a conviction is a depraved attempt to turn a man’s minor children into spies for the State. I would mock it as pathetic, if it weren’t so despicable.”
“Orwell literally wrote about a dystopian future where children were encouraged and praised to report their parents to the State for all manner of thought crimes and other infractions. And, here we are – welcome to 1984. And I would not hold out any hope that any DOJ prosecutor would disagree with this tactic. They’re a lot devoid of shame, pity, honor, introspection, and soul.”
Jackson Reffitt told the court he stopped by his parents’ home after it was raided by the FBI, intending to “comfort them.”
Defense attorney Lawrence Welch (appointed by the court) asked Jackson how “comforting” it was for him to conduct media interviews–including this one with CNN-against his father without his parents’ knowledge. No response was given. The prosecution objected.
Reffitt’s son created this fundraiser below at the suggestion of others after his interview with CNN. It has generated $165,676 as of this publication. You will notice his courtroom testimony about living away from home contradicts the text of this GoFundMe page- which asserts “I might be kicked out of my house due to my involvement in my dad’s case.”
After recess, attorney Welch told the judge he objected to legal advocates representing Jackson in the courtroom without properly identifying themselves.
The judge constantly nudged Jackson to speak up. When those in the courtroom could not hear him, he received a lapel microphone.
Father Guy Reffitt was found guilty of entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds with a deadly or dangerous weapon, obstruction of an official proceeding and aiding and abetting, two counts of civil disorder, and hindering communication through physical force or threat of physical force. This week’s testimony revealed he did not enter the Capitol and left the rally while it was happening to promptly return home to Texas.
You can support the Reffitt family cover their living and legal expenses at https://www.givesendgo.com/G23DE.