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DOJ warns Capitol rioter who took Pelosi’s laptop may be destroying data and encouraging others too

The Justice Department told a federal court on Monday that Riley Williams, a Pennsylvania woman accused of stealing Nancy Pelosi’s laptop during the attack on the Capitol, may be destroying digital evidence in her possession and encouraging others to do the same, according to NBC’s Washington affiliate

Prosecutors are asking the judge in the case to prohibit further internet access.

Ms Williams, a 22-year-old from Harrisburg, faces a number of charges from her alleged participation in the attack, and was released to the custody of her mother last week to await trial, and has since allegedly deleted her Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, Telegram and Parler accounts.

Part of the conditions of that release from jail, owing to Ms Williams lack of a previous record, was that she avoid contact with any witnesses or victims of the 6 January riot in Washington. Ms Williams mother could be criminally punished if her daughter violates the terms of release.

“Your mother is making an enormous leap of faith on your behalf,” US magistrate judge Martin Carlson said last week. “You are the one person in this courtroom who can make sure your mother doesn’t have to choose between her love for you and her duty to this court.”

Authorities located Ms Williams, who was released from jail on Thursday, after an ex-boyfriend said friends showed him a video of Ms Williams involved in taking the laptop during the attack. The tipster also said he believed Ms Williams wanted to give the laptop to a friend in Russia, who intended to sell it to the country’s intelligence services.

Ms Williams’s public defender, Lori Ulrich, said the charges against her client—which include theft, obstruction, trespassing, violent entry and disorderly conduct on US capitol grounds—were “overstated.” 

She acknowledged that Ms Williams was part of the attack and that it “regrettable that Ms. Williams took the president’s bait,” but said the man who called in the tip was an abusive boyfriend, and that Ms Williams changed her phone number after the riot for protection.

Ms Williams’s mother said before the attack, her daughter became interested in President Trump’s politics and “far-right message boards.”


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