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Army Ranger vet charged with Capitol storming to remain jailed as ‘threat’ despite no prior record

Photo of Robert Morss outside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. (U.S. Department of Justice photo/Released)
December 21, 2021

A federal judge ruled that a U.S. Army Ranger veteran charged with multiple counts relating to the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol will remain jailed as a “threat” as he awaits his trial, despite having no prior criminal record.

On Friday, Washington D.C. U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden rejected a pretrial motion for release by Robert Morss, 28, an Army veteran accused of taking a leadership role in storming the U.S. Capitol, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

Morss and his lawyers had argued that he has been subjected to poor treatment over the months he’s been jailed since Jan. 6. Morss’ legal team also cited his military service and lack of criminal record as reasons to let him go ahead of his trial.

Morss joined the Army in 2011 and became a Ranger. He served three combat tours in Afghanistan, before retiring in 2015, CNN reported. Morss family has said he won commendations for his service and was received an Honorable Discharge. Morss went on to attend Penn State and studied to become a teacher.

Prosecutors opposing Morss’ motion for pretrial release argued that he had taken a leadership role in breaching the Capitol and repeatedly assaulted police officers on Jan. 6.

“Every person who was present without authority in the Capitol on January 6 contributed to the chaos of that day and the danger posed to law enforcement, the United States Vice President, members of Congress, and the peaceful transfer of power,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Melissa Jackson wrote. “However, Morss violently led that effort and thus his specific conduct aggravated that chaos and danger.”  

Morss has specifically been charged, at various times on Jan. 6, with attempting to pull away a baton from a police officer, pulling away a police barrier and a police riot shield. Morss is also accused of organizing other individuals at the Capitol to form a shield wall, which pushed against a police line and forced its way forward into the building. According to the charges, Morss also “did forcibly assault, resist, oppose, impede, intimidate and interfere with” police on multiple occasions.

In arguing against his release, Jackson also noted an undated speech on Morss’ iCloud account, which reads, “You ask if I regret my involvement and what happened on the sixth my answer is [a] resounding no.” The speech further states, “That capitol building isn’t a temple at all it’s a theater where soothsayers and charlatans strip the American people of their rights. We don’t need Trump anymore. The people across the political spectrum and from sea to shining sea have woken up to the long train of abuses that this twisted body of government has done.”

Jackson argued that the speech “makes it unequivocally clear that he does not renounce” what he did on Jan. 6.

“Morss came prepared for violence and then repeatedly led the violent mob attacking law enforcement in an effort to overtake the Capitol,” Jackson added. “His actions inherently prove he is a danger to the community at large, and the law enforcement officers who stand in the way of his ideological beliefs, whose safety can only be assured by his detention.”