Capitol rioter who dressed as Hitler and was defended by Trump sentenced to four years in federal prison

A Capitol rioter who dressed up as Adolf Hitler, and whose case has been championed by former President Donald Trump, has been sentenced to four years in federal prison for participating in the attack.

Timothy Hale-Cusanelli, 32, of New Jersey, is a former Army reservist who participated in the Capitol riot. He was convicted in May after trying — and failing — to convince a jury he was unaware that Congress was in session at the Capitol.

He was facing a charge of obstruction of Congress.

“I know this sounds idiotic, but I’m from New Jersey,” he told the jury. “I feel like an idiot, it sounds idiotic, and it is.”

US District Judge Trevor McFadden, who was appointed by Mr Trump, did not buy Hale-Cusanelli's claim, calling it "highly dubious," according to NBC News. The judge said he was open to a sentencing enhancement because of the "risible lie" and "obvious attempt" to avoid accountability for his actions.

 (US Department of Justice)
(US Department of Justice)

The judge went on to say Hale-Cusanelli "absolutely knew" that Congress met at the Capitol. He said Hale-Cusanelli told his roommate on January 6 that he was outside the House of Representatives.

He also said he was "appalled" by the defendant using a slur against a female police officer during the riot.

During the sentencing hearing Hale-Cusanelli said he owed Congress members and law enforcement officers an apology for participating in the attack.

"I disgraced my uniform and I disgraced the country," he said.

He admitted that he sometimes says “ugly things" that are "repugnant" to other people.

According to HuffPost, Naval investigators spoke to 34 of his former co-workers during a probe. They told investigators he held "extremist or radical views pertaining to Jewish people, minorities, and women," with some saying they were "afraid" of him.

Despite Hale-Cusanelli's admission that he says things that offend the general population, he does have at least one fan — Mr Trump.

At a recent rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, Hale-Cusanelli's aunt was invited on-stage to plead for sympathy for her nephew.

“Tim went to the nation’s capitol to hear his president speak,” she said. “He dressed in a suit and tie and his favorite hat. Tim wanted to take part in what he thought was going to be a historical event. Instead, he witnessed a horror show.”

She left out the detail that he was an active participant in the "horror show."

It's unclear why Mr Trump chose to give time to this particular Capitol riot defendant.