WASHINGTON — The attorney for an Indiana woman who appeared to downplay the Capitol riot a day after being sentenced for entering the Capitol told a judge her client was “played” by a Fox News host.
Anna Morgan-Lloyd, 49, of Bloomfield, Indiana, was sentenced in June to three years of probation on the same day she entered a plea of guilty to one misdemeanor count of parading, demonstrating or picketing in a capitol building.
Morgan-Lloyd had posted on social media that January 6 was the “best day ever,” but in court she was tearful and contrite. In a letter to U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth, she wrote that she was “ashamed that something meant to show support for the President had turned violent.”
Her attorney, Heather Shaner, told Lamberth she’d had her read and write reports on a number of books, including “Schindler’s List,” “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee” and “Just Mercy” to gain a better understanding of American history.
A day later, however, she appeared on the Fox News Channel show “The Ingraham Angle.” During her appearance, Morgan-Lloyd appeared to minimize the riot under questioning by host Laura Ingraham.
“If anybody bumped into anybody, it was, ‘Excuse me,’ and people were very polite,” she said. “Nobody was breaking anything, and it was calm enough that people were actually walking out of the Capitol building that worked there and they had no fear on their faces.”
When Ingraham asked her if January 6 was an insurrection, Morgan-Lloyd responded, “I don’t believe it,” and said she saw police officers “talking and chatting with people.”
The interview was widely viewed as evidence that Morgan-Lloyd had only feigned acceptance of responsibility to get a lighter sentence, and federal judges have repeatedly referenced it in court – as D.C. District Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell did on Thursday while sentencing another of Shaner’s client’s, Jack Griffith.
Howell ultimately sentenced Griffith, who also pleaded guilty to the parading charge, to the same three years of probation as Morgan-Lloyd – telling Justice Department lawyers she felt her hands were “tied” by their decision not to ask for jail time for other misdemeanor defendants. During his sentencing, Howell said she saw little sign he was truly taking accountability for his actions.
“There have been other defendants, at time of sentencing, who have expressed remorse said they gained an understanding by reading books,” Howell said, in clear reference to Morgan-Lloyd. “And then as soon as they were sentenced to probation, they downplayed the events.”
“Judges are human,” Howell added. “And we can get played.”
Shaner told Howell she, too, was outraged when she first saw the video of Morgan-Lloyd on Fox News, but has come to believe it was her client who had been “played” by Ingraham.
"I believe that Ms. Morgan-Lloyd was genuinely remorseful. I was shocked when the government sent me the video of her on Fox. I was angry. I felt betrayed,” Shaner said. “And then I talked to her and I realized it’s very difficult for an individual to go on Fox News, and other outlets, where they’re less interested in the truth than in creating a narrative.”
Shaner said even people with media training would have been caught off guard, and that she went on Fox News not out of a lack of remorse, but out of “stupidity.”
“For her it was a terrible idea,” she said.
According to Shaner, Morgan-Lloyd has rejected further requests for comment, and has declined to speak to the FBI, because it’s still “too raw” and upsetting for her.
Shaner said Morgan-Lloyd wrote a letter to Judge Lamberth immediately after the interview to explain the situation. Howell said she would pass along the transcript of Thursday’s hearing to him for him to read.
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