In a blistering opinion Wednesday, a federal judge said a Nashville man and his mother, charged in the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol, must stay in custody because their release on bail would threaten national security.
Eric Munchel, dubbed “zip tie guy” in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 insurrection, and his mother Lisa Eisenhart will be held until their trials. Federal prosecutors say they were part of the pro-Trump mob that stormed the Capitol to stop lawmakers from certifying the election of President Joe Biden.
Investigators identified Munchel, 30, and Eisenhart, 56, in video footage from the riot. Munchel was seen inside the Capitol carrying plastic handcuffs, wearing a tactical vest, with a taser holstered on his right hip and an iPhone strapped to his chest, facing outward.
The pair faces federal charges of obstructing an official proceeding, unlawful entry, and violent entry.
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A Nashville-based magistrate judge initially said the pair should be released while they awaited trial, but that order was delayed until a hearing could take place in Washington, D.C. The pair was subsequently taken there for arraignment.
U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth of Washington D.C. officially reversed the magistrate judge’s decision, saying that because Munchel and Eisenhart remained dedicated to their cause, they might act against the federal government again if they were allowed out of custody.
Lamberth’s opinion quoted George Washington’s farewell address and argued efforts to disrupt Congress and the peaceful transfer of power “threatens the republic itself.” The judge dismissed the defense’s claims that Munchel and Eisenhart were peaceful protesters as “detached from reality.”
“Munchel has indicated that he would be willing to act against Congress again, and nothing short of pretrial detention can prevent him from doing so,” Lamberth wrote in his opinion ordering pretrial detention.
According to federal prosecutors, Eisenhart said she’d rather die than “live under oppression.” Lamberth noted her position as a “self-avowed, would-be martyr” in his order.
“Eisenhart’s willingness to die for her cause indicates that release conditions may be even less effective for her,” Lamberth said. “If Eisenhart does not fear the ultimate consequence, the consequences for disobeying release conditions are unlikely to deter her.”