Jeffrey Register, 39, who is from Florida, was wearing a "God, Guns & Trump" sweatshirt and a “2020 Keep America Great" skullcap when he stormed the Capitol. In a plea agreement, he admitted that he called and waved for the group to press forward before the mob reached the doors of the Speaker's Lobby outside the floor of the House, where Ashli Babbitt was fatally shot, and that he deleted photographs and performed a factory reset on his cellphone after Jan. 6.
U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Kelly for the District of Columbia, who was nominated by then-President Donald Trump, handed down the sentence.
Kelly called Jan. 6 a “national disgrace” and said it ruined a history of peaceful transfers of power in the United States.
“We can’t get that back,” Kelly said.
He also said Register “helped direct the mob” at a critical moment and was “very lucky” he wasn’t charged with a felony count of obstruction, as other Jan. 6 defendants have. “Getting the plea you did reflects some good lawyering,” he said.
Federal prosecutors sought a punishment of five months behind bars, saying his conduct was "significantly more aggravated" than most other misdemeanor defendants.
"He seemingly explored for an alternative route to Members of Congress, and ultimately waved the crowd toward an apparently weaker access point: the entrance to the Speaker’s Lobby," prosecutors wrote. "Minutes later, and with Register as a witness, Ashli Babbitt was killed while attempting to breach that hastily barricaded entrance."
When interviewed by the FBI, according to prosecutors, Register said that he thought, “We made it, now they know we're here," when he reached the Speaker's Lobby doors.
He later messaged a woman saying he was doing his best "to keep a low profile," and that he had "deleted Twitter and Facebook."
He also joked about how he stormed the Capitol in a message to his father.
“Maybe when this is all said and done, government will provide me with a bumper sticker to give u that says: Proud parent of a Capitol insurrectionist," he wrote to his father.
The government pointed to Register's criminal history, and said that the punishment he received for storming the Capitol should be longer than the sentence he received for driving on a suspended license after he received a DWI.
"Register’s actions in breaching the nation’s legislative seat of power, overrunning law enforcement, and redirecting an angry mob to within yards of a direct confrontation with Members of Congress, all while the Vice President hid, are plainly many times more serious, and more deserving of punishment, than his prior misdemeanor offenses," prosecutors wrote. "Rather than an offense that is committed by thousands each day, his is an offense unprecedented in the history of this Nation."
Register's federal public defender argued that he was "fed lies and disingenuous directions by people that should have known better" and "was not the cause of January 6," nor was he as responsible as those who physically harmed people inside the Capitol.
"Arguably, the former president, the rally’s organizers and speakers, and other nefarious, organized groups contributed to the chaos and are greatly more culpable for what happened on January 6," the public defender wrote.
Register, his lawyer said, was terminated from his job after his arrest, and was able to get a job with a distribution company in September.
Register’s lawyer argued in court on Thursday that “no more” deterrence was necessary for her client.
“His wife is still angry with him about his decision to do this,” Cara Halverson said. “He has to live with the memory of the sound of the gunshot that killed Ashli Babbitt.”
Sending him to prison for five months wasn’t going to change the mind of the type of people who would storm the Capitol in support of a losing candidate’s efforts to overturn the election next time, she argued. That jail time would not “make the irrational think rational thoughts,” she said.
Register, who is unvaccinated, addressed the court from a podium set up far away from the judge because of that status. Wearing a suit, Register took his mask off and apologized to police officers and the American people, calling his actions “spontaneous” and “without thought.”
“I have no excuse for my actions,” he said. “I truly am sorry.”
The FBI has made more than 740 arrests in connection with the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, and hundreds of more arrests are in the works.