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DOJ may soon offer plea to Federico Klein, Trump appointee charged in Capitol riot

The Justice Department says Federico Klein may have the chance to plead guilty before trial – although it's not clear that he's interested.

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department may soon extend a plea deal to a former State Department appointee of President Donald Trump accused of participating in the Capitol riot, federal prosecutors said Monday.

During a status hearing Monday morning, DOJ lawyers said they anticipated they could soon offer a plea deal to Federico Klein, a former Trump-appointee accused of attacking police with a riot shield and inciting the mob inside the Capitol tunnels on January 6.

Klein was arrested in March, but released on unsecured bond last month despite a federal judge finding that he showed an “obvious disregard for the safety of others and the country” and that he has “demonstrated willingness to use force to advance his personal beliefs.”

Justice Department lawyers did not provide a timeframe for when they might offer a plea – and said it wasn’t immediately clear whether Klein would actually be interested in pleading guilty before trial.

To date, only one Capitol riot defendant, Jon Schaffer, has pleaded guilty in the case. A founding member of the Oath Keepers militia group, Schaffer is expected to cooperate with the federal prosecution of other Capitol riot defendants. Last month, DOJ lawyers began alerting Oath Keepers’ attorneys about whether their clients may have communicated with Schaffer prior to January 6.

At least two other defendants in the case may be nearing plea agreements, according to statements in court.

Justice Department lawyers said late last month that they had begun plea talks with Richard Barnett, the Arkansas man photographed with his feat on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s desk during the riot. Prosecutors said they had discussed sentencing ranges, but that a formal offer had not been extended yet.

Plea deals could also be in the works for Kevin and Hunter Seefried. Kevin Seefried is the Delaware man photographed carrying a large Confederate flag through the Capitol building on January 6. Last week, attorneys for both Seefrieds and the DOJ told a federal judge they expect the cases to be resolved prior to trial and agreed to a 60-day continuance in the case as they work out possible plea terms.

Experts have said they expect the majority of the now-500+ Capitol riot cases to end in plea deals so that federal prosecutors can focus on a smaller number of more significant cases, including the growing indictment against at least a dozen Oath Keepers accused of planning to disrupt Congress on January 6.

We're tracking all of the arrests, charges and investigations into the January 6 assault on the Capitol. Sign up for our Capitol Breach Newsletter here so that you never miss an update.