WASHINGTON — Guy Reffitt was armed with a handgun and zip ties when he tried to storm the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, a friend and fellow member of a right-wing group testified at the first Capitol riot trial on Friday.
Rocky Hardie, a former member of the Texas Three Percenters, testified that he and Reffitt traveled to D.C. from Texas in Reffitt’s Chevy Equinox, that was loaded up with their rifles, their handguns, and ammo.
Jurors previously heard testimony from Reffitt's son Jackson Reffitt, who tipped off the FBI about his father before Jan. 6, and then recorded his dad bragging about his participation in the riot. The jury is expected to begin deliberating next week.
Friend testifies Capitol rioter was armed during Jan. 6 attackMarch 4, 202202:07
Hardie testified that they stopped in Virginia to take their weapons apart before they traveled to the hotel where they stayed in the Georgetown section of Washington, D.C.
Hardie described preparing for the events of the day on the morning of Jan. 6, describing how they went to Reffitt's car and reassembled their rifles (which he said they left in the vehicle) and strapped their handguns to their bodies before they went to former President Donald Trump's rally that preceded the Capitol attack.
Hardie said he and Reffitt were both aware of the strict gun laws in D.C., and that they'd even researched reciprocity laws in the states that they traveled through to see whether their concealed carry permits were valid. But they ultimately made the decision that it was worth being armed on Jan. 6 even if it was against the law.
“I think we used the phrase ‘It’s better to be tried by a jury of twelve than carried by six,’” Hardie testified. They decided they were "wiling to take that risk" of being charged for unlawfully carrying weapons, Hardie testified.
Hardie testified as part of an agreement with the federal government that bans prosecutors from using his testimony in the Reffitt case to build a case against him. The agreement does not mean that Hardie himself will not face charges in connection with Jan. 6.
Reffitt and Hardie, the latter testified, both believed Trump's false claims that the 2020 election was stolen, and joked about dragging House Speaker Nancy Pelosi down the stairs of the U.S. Capitol.
Hardie said that believed he and Reffitt were joking around, and that he didn't actually think that Reffitt would follow through. Hardie also testified that he'd assumed, from what he saw on television, that the Capitol would be very secure, and that it would be impossible for rioters to actually get near the building without being shot.
On Jan. 6, Reffitt and Hardie communicated with a radio. They were separated at the Capitol, he said, but Reffitt communicated what he was going to try to do.
"At some point he said he was trying to go inside the building," Hardie said.
Hardie, who said he himself still believes that the election was stolen, said he was initially proud of his participation in the events of Jan. 6.
“I felt like it was historically significant. I actually showed up,” Hardie said. “I wasn’t ashamed.”
Hardie said he was also impressed by Reffitt's actions.
“I felt like he had more courage than I did,” Hardie testified. “I wasn’t going to go up there.”
Hardie testified that he decided to leave the Texas Three Percenters after he got a visit from the FBI. The bureau also raided his home and his business, Hardie testified.
Reffitt's attorney has argued that his client exaggerates and rants, and that the government's case is based on “bragging and a lot of hype."
During a cross examination on Friday, Reffitt attorney William Welch asked Hardie about being visited by the FBI a few weeks after Jan. 6. Hardie testified that he declined to let the FBI inside his home, but answered limited questions outside. The FBI soon showed up with search warrants for his home and business.
Welch pressed Hardie on his immunity agreement, and pointed out that, as of the moment, he had not been charged for his actions on Jan. 6.
"You still haven't been charged with a crime, correct?" Welch asked, mentioning Hardie's business travels to Mexico, Florida, and an upcoming trip to Thailand. Hardie testified that it benefited him to tell the truth in an attempt to avoid being charged.
"Somebody in the government is going to decide, did I lie or did I not lie," Hardie testified.
"Mr. Reffitt brags, doesn't he?" Welch asked. "Mr. Reffitt uses hyperbole, doesn't he?" Hardie agreed that Reffitt bragged and exaggerated.