Riley Williams, among the highest-profile defendants in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, has been sentenced to three years in prison by a federal judge in Washington.
The Justice Department argued Williams, of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, was an “accelerant” of the mob, and “gleefully directed and mobilized” violence during the attack.
Williams, who was accused of directing the mob and making violent statements about former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, was convicted by a jury on six federal charges in November. During a lengthy sentencing hearing Thursday, prosecutors accused Williams of obstructing the investigation into her case and of denying responsibility for her actions.
A federal prosecutor argued Williams “bemoaned the fact that the siege hadn’t gone further. There was nothing patriotic about what she did on Jan. 6.” The prosecutor said, “Riley Williams used commercial grade software to wipe her computer six times” and removed computer hardware to hide evidence.” “She was obsessed with the idea that the election was stolen,” he said.
The Justice Department argued Williams, who was 23 years old when she was convicted at trial in November, wasn’t a naïve and impressionable person. The prosecutor said Williams wasn’t swept up in the mob and wasn’t some form of “Forrest Gump” on Jan. 6. “She might be incapable of remorse. She remains openly proud of her actions,” the prosecutor argued.
In their prior arguments, the Justice Department alleged Williams moved inside Pelosi’s office; directed other rioters; pushed against officers and took video, audio, and photo recordings of her activities. Prosecutors said Williams also threw a water bottle at police officers and called them traitors.
While inside the Speaker’s Office, according to the government, Williams encouraged other rioters to steal an office laptop, and took a video of the theft, telling one of them, “Dude, put on gloves!” and yelling, among other things, “Take that f—– laptop.”
The jury deadlocked on two of the charges against Williams, including a theft charge.
In seeking leniency for Williams, her defense attorney argued Williams was impacted by “impressionable men,” including former President Donald Trump. Williams’ defense attorney played a 2023 video clip of Trump continuing to deny the impact of the Jan. 6 insurrection. In the video clip, Trump is heard calling the Jan. 6 prosecutions a “giant lie and a radical left con job.”
Her defense attorney said Williams was “caught up in listening to powerful and influential men.”
In a statement to the judge, Williams apologized to police and Capitol employees. She said, “I barely recognize the young and stupid girl who yelled at police that day. I’m now a responsible woman.”
Just before issuing the 36-month prison sentence, Judge Amy Berman Jackson called Williams’s crimes “utterly reprehensible” and “grave.”
Jackson said Williams gave directions to others amid the mob.
“There is only one voice giving the instructions, like a coxswain on a crew team,” Jackson said, adding that Williams was “not a little waif flowing in the wind.”
Williams has already served four months of her prison term. She was ordered jailed immediately after her conviction at trial in November. .