Many of these veterans believed the conspiracy theories about the 2020 election, according to court documents. Some also said they felt a sense of patriotic responsibility, given their past military service, to stop Congress from certifying what they thought was a stolen election.
Decades of military service
Most of the servicemembers face misdemeanor trespassing offenses. But some are accused of assaulting police officers, destruction of government property, civil disorder, and conspiracy.
All three men have pleaded not guilty and are contesting the charges.
The 45 servicemembers were in the Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force, or were in the reserves. One was part of the Army Special Forces unit known as the Green Berets. They hail from 22 states from all across the country, including Texas, Pennsylvania, Hawaii and Idaho.
They represent a true cross-section of the US Armed Forces. Some were commissioned officers, like a lieutenant colonel and a lieutenant commander, while others were enlisted troops. Some were highly decorated combat veterans, while others were kicked out for misconduct.
These veterans served in all of America’s major wars in the last 60 years, including the Vietnam War, the Persian Gulf War, the Afghanistan War and the Iraq War. The combined years of service for all 45 defendants is more than 325 years.
Links to extremist groups
The CNN review found significant overlap between veterans and extremist groups. Some of these anti-government groups specifically recruit veterans because of their weapons training.
There are approximately a half dozen veterans with ties to the Proud Boys and about another half dozen with ties to the Oath Keepers, according to CNN’s review of court documents.
Both are separately accused of planning for violence on January 6. They’ve pleaded not guilty.
CNN’s Ellie Kaufman, Hannah Rabinowitz, Katelyn Polantz, Oren Liebermann and Barbara Starr contributed to this story.
Source: CNNPolitics – Breaking News