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Coast Guard officer who plotted attacks on top Democrats and journalists pleads guilty

Stockpile of weapons and equipment possed by Lt. Christopher Paul Hasson. (U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland/Released)
October 03, 2019

A Coast Guard Lieutenant accused of gathering an arsenal of weapons and plotting to attack Supreme Court justices, prominent Democrats and TV journalists entered a guilty plea to weapons and drug charges on Thursday.

Christopher Hasson, 50, pleaded guilty to four criminal charges brought by federal prosecutors who described Hasson as a self-described white nationalist, according to the Associated Press. While prosecutors did also describe Hasson as a domestic terrorist intent on carrying out a mass shooting, they did not file any terrorism-related charges.

Hasson was a former Marine and reportedly worked at Coast Guard headquarters in Washington D.C. He has remained on active duty throughout his trial.

Hasson, who was arrested in February, is reportedly set for a Jan. 31 sentencing date. With his plea, Hasson faces up to 31 years in prison.

Two of the charges Hasson plead to were related included possession of an unregistered and unserialized firearm suppressor. He was also charged for the illicit possession of the opioid painkiller, tramadol, and unlawful possession of a firearm by an addict of a controlled substance.

Hasson initially denied the charges after he was arrested in February at his home in Silver Springs, Maryland, Reuters reported.

Authorities also said they seized 15 firearms and more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition from his home.

Hasson reportedly had a list of targets, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democratic freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, and former chairman of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, John Podesta.

The Associated Press reported Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer was also on a spreadsheet list, as were Democratic presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, and Kamala Harris. Hasson also reportedly looked at MSNBC’s Chris Hayes and Joe Scarborough and CNN’s Chris Cuomo and Van Jones as potential targets.

Hasson also reportedly targeted two Supreme Court justices and two social media company executives. Hasson’s online search records indicated he searched their home addresses in March 2018, within minutes of searching firearm sales websites, according to prosecutors.

Prosecutors also said Hasson studied sniper training and instructions for homemade bombs and mortars. He even used reportedly used his government computer to research Adolf Hitler and Nazis.

Prosecutors said Hasson took inspiration from Anders Behring Breivik, a Norwegian right-wing extremist who carried out a bombing and shooting attack that killed 77 people in 2011.

Hasson’s federal public defender Liz Oyer said he “was not plotting a terrorist attack or any of the abhorrent acts that the prosecution has repeatedly speculated about but never actually charged.”

Oyer said prosecutors were trying to characterize Hasson for “private thoughts” he never shared publicly. Last week, she asked the judge in the trial to bar trial evidence of Hasson’s white nationalist views and “plans or preparations he allegedly made to commit an act of violence or terrorism.”