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A Navy contractor charged with crimes related to the Capitol riot expressed pro-Nazi and white supremacist views and once came to work sporting a Hitler-style mustache, prosecutors allege.
Prosecutors say Timothy Hale-Cusanelli, 30, screamed at police officers and climbed the scaffolding outside the Capitol building, yelled “Trump won!” and entered the Capitol. But what happened on January 6 wasn’t Hale-Cusanelli’s first brush with the far-right. He left a lengthy trail of evidence about his racist and misogynist views, according to prosecutors.
Court filings from Friday, for example, revealed that he allegedly snapped photos of himself apparently posing as Hitler on April 21, 2020—the day after the dead dictator’s birthday.
“Hitler should have finished the job,” Hale-Cusanelli once said, according to an unnamed colleague cited by prosecutors.
Prosecutors rolled out multiple pages of evidence aimed at demonstrating their point that the accused Army reservist was an ardent pro-Nazi white supremacist with extremist views about Jews, minorities, and women. And his “Nazi idolatry” underpinned his dream of a “civil war,” prosecutors said—a common theme among adherents to far-right ideology.
In a shirtless bathroom selfie video recovered from his phone, Hale-Cusanelli is quoted as saying: “That’s right, you little bitch, I work out like I hate immigrants . . . intensely!,” according to the filing.
A video recovered from Timony Hale-Cusanelli's phone. (Screenshot via U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia)
Hale-Cusanelli held a “secret” security clearance for his job as a security contractor at Naval Weapons Station Earle, near Colts Neck, New Jersey. He’s been charged with seven criminal counts, including disrupting a congressional proceeding and disorderly conduct. He hasn’t yet entered a plea.
After Hale-Cusanelli was arrested in January, the Navy launched its own investigation of his background through the Naval Criminal Investigation Service, or NCIS.
Navy investigators found that 34 out of 44 people they spoke to described Hale-Cusanelli as holding “extremist or radical views pertaining to the Jewish people, minorities, and women,” according to prosecutors.
One of his colleagues told investigators that Hale-Cusanelli spoke about his dislike of Jews every day.
A Navy seaman recounted Hale-Cusanelli saying that if he were a Nazi, “he would kill all the Jews and eat them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and he wouldn’t need to season them because the salt from their tears would make it flavorful enough.”
Another seaman said Hale-Cusanelli “did not like the Jews because they caused all of the world’s problems.” Yet another recalled Hale-Cusanelli saying that “babies born with any deformities or disabilities should be shot in the forehead.”
A video recovered from his phone shows the defendant attending a Black Lives Matter protest in June 2020 with what he calls a “clipboard full of statistics,” which prosecutors said he brought with him to the event in hopes of finding someone who would “debate him” about differences between the races.
Text messages recovered from Timony Hale-Cusanelli's phone. (Screenshot via U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia)
Images saved to his phone include a meme mocking the death of George Floyd, whose killing by a police officer last summer sparked widespread outrage over racial injustice. The meme refers to Floyd as “George of the jungle.”
Another meme satirizes the original “Jaws” movie franchise posters but replaces the shark with Adolf Hitler and portrays the threatened swimmer as Jewish.
On a video recovered from his phone from the January 6 storming of the Capitol, he can be heard yelling “Trump won!,” prosecutors wrote.
Hale-Cusanelli allegedly found the January 6 riot exhilarating, according to prosecutors. He told a “confidential human source” who was wearing recording equipment provided to him by Naval investigators that he could hardly describe his feelings on that day due to “the adrenaline, the rush, the purpose” that he felt.
He allegedly told the informant he “really wishes” there would be a civil war.
Defense lawyer pushes back
Hale-Cusanelli denied being a white supremacist or a Nazi sympathizer in FBI interviews, according to a court document filed by his attorney. Hale-Cusanelli “never assaulted or threatened anyone” and isn’t accused of violence, his attorney wrote.
The defense also submitted to the judge a letter defending Hale-Cusanelli drafted by one of his supervisors at the base, Sgt. John Getz.
Getz claimed in his letter that Hale-Cusanelli would often buy breakfast for his African-American colleagues and said he had “never known him” to be a racist.
"I was appalled at how he was slandered in the press in regards to him being a 'white supremacist,'" Getz wrote.
But prosecutors dismissed Getz’s letter, saying it “directly contradicts” another statement Getz made to Naval investigators in January. An NCIS report cited by prosecutors quotes Getz as saying he knew Hale-Cusanelli “was a Nazi sympathizer and Holocaust denier,” while adding that nothing the defendant said “struck him as dangerous.”
Timony Hale-Cusanelli allegedly entering the U.S. Capitol building on January 6, 2021. (Screenshot via U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia)
Hale-Cusanelli is just one of an increasing number of defendants charged in relation to events at the Capitol on January 6 with ties to the military or white supremacist ideology. At least 31 out of 230 people charged over the Capitol riots as of February 21 had ties to militant extremist groups, according to the New York Times.
Hale-Cusanelli has been charged with civil disorder, obstruction of an official proceeding, entering and remaining in a restricted building, and disorderly conduct in a Capitol Building, among other charges.