Woman who boasted about Capitol attack faces new federal charges

Derek Hawkins and Brittany Shammas,

The Washington Post

February 5, 2021 | 2:36 PM

WASHINGTON – A West Texas woman who bragged in a Facebook live stream about storming the U.S. Capitol is facing new federal charges stemming from the attempted insurrection last month, in a significant expansion of her criminal case.

A federal grand jury this week charged Jenny Cudd with obstruction of an official proceeding, entering and remaining in a restricted building, and parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building. She was also indicted on two counts related to disorderly or disruptive conduct in the building.

The indictment highlights the evolving investigation of the Capitol assault by federal authorities, showing their willingness to escalate prosecutions of alleged rioters and tack on additional counts as they gather evidence.

Cudd, a 36-year-old florist from Midland, Texas, was initially charged with two misdemeanor counts of entering and remaining on restricted grounds and disorderly conduct or violent entry. She was released on her own recognizance.

The new charges are more severe. The most serious, obstruction of an official proceeding, is a felony that falls under a section of federal law related to tampering with a witness, victim or informant. It carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, plus potential fines.

An attorney for Cudd didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Friday morning.

Days before the grand jury indictment was released, Cudd’s attorney asked a judge to let her travel later this month to Riviera Maya in Mexico for a four-day trip with employees of her flower shop.

“This is a work-related bonding retreat for employees and their spouses,” wrote attorney Farheena Siddiqui in the motion requesting the trip. “Ms. Cudd has appeared at her scheduled court appearance, remains in constant contact with her attorney, and has remained in contact with pretrial probation, as ordered.”

A judge has yet to rule on the motion, according to the docket in the case.

A onetime mayoral candidate and vociferous anti-masker, Cudd gained notoriety for a Facebook live stream in which she boasted about her involvement in the attack on the Capitol.

Draped in the Trump flag she’d worn inside the Rotunda and Statuary Hall, she announced, “We did break down . . . Nancy Pelosi’s office door.” Cudd said she “charged the Capitol today with patriots,” adding, “Hell, yes, I am proud of my actions.”

Two days later, she gave an interview to local TV station NewsWest9. In the 14-minute video, she said people who had turned her in to the FBI and left negative reviews of her business were trying to “cancel me because I stood up for what it is that I believe in.” The backlash, she added, “is 100 percent cancel culture.”

Cudd insisted that she did not personally destroy anything or go into any offices. Instead, she said, she used the term “we” to refer to “we the patriots.” She said she had walked through an open door after the barricades were broken down. And although the storming of the Capitol left a police officer and four others dead, she continued to defend it.

“I’ve told everybody this: I would do it again in a heartbeat because I did not break any laws,” Cudd said.

Her arrest came the next week. In a Jan. 12 federal complaint, the FBI cited Cudd’s statements on social media and in the TV interview.

Federal authorities have debated how aggressive they should be in prosecuting people who took part in the Capitol riots, weighing the value of whether to go after those who entered the building but didn’t engage in violent or destructive behavior. Authorities have identified hundreds of suspects and arrested more than 150 people so far.

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