The top editor of a self-described “politically incorrect” Orthodox Jewish newspaper — a Donald Trump booster who scored a recent interview with the former president’s impeachment attorney — was among those who entered the Capitol on Jan. 6, according to a POLITICO review of footage captured that day.
Elliot Resnick, chief editor of the New York-based Jewish Press, is visible in a video taken during the siege as he crosses the Capitol Rotunda, just behind a small group of police clad in tactical gear. As an alarm blared, Resnick entered a vestibule where a group of eight people surrounded a lone Capitol Police officer standing in front of an entryway with cracked window panes, other members of the mob visible outside.
As Resnick neared the group, the video shows a rioter hollering at the officer: “You’ve got a job to do? That’s a poor excuse.” Resnick, who bumped up against the yelling man, briefly appeared to begin speaking to the officer before the camera cut away.
Resnick has drawn attention in recent years for incendiary and bigoted comments — labeling African religions as “primitive” and suggesting white supremacy is fictional — and is a longtime vocal supporter of Donald Trump. Just days after Trump’s acquittal in his second impeachment trial, Resnick landed an interview with the former president’s lead attorney, David Schoen. And he’s defended the Jan. 6 Capitol riot in print without acknowledging his previously unreported presence in the building that day.
Resnick’s ultra-conservative politics are rare among the broader community of U.S. Jews, which tilts overwhelmingly toward Democrats. But even among more conservative Orthodox Jews, his statements stand out under the banner of the six-decade-old Jewish Press, whose website touts that it’s been “politically incorrect long before the phrase was coined.” Groups condemning his past rhetoric include the Anti-Defamation League, a mainstream Jewish American institution.
It’s unclear precisely what led Resnick to the Capitol on Jan. 6, including whether he attended Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally earlier that day. Neither Resnick nor the Jewish Press hold a congressional hard pass, a requirement for journalists who file regular reports from the Capitol.
For the past two weeks, Resnick has declined calls, emails and social media messages seeking comment. POLITICO also reached out repeatedly to leaders of The Jewish Press, sending detailed lists of questions about Resnick’s presence that day and whether the paper had authorized it. Those inquiries went unanswered until Monday night, when publisher Naomi Mauer issued a one-sentence response.
“As we understand the facts, we believe that Mr. Resnick acted within the law,” Mauer said in an email. She declined to elaborate or respond to an additional follow-up for more information.
Resnick has not faced charges for his presence in the Capitol, and the video captured of him on Jan. 6 does not show him engaging in or encouraging violence.
Those who have called out Resnick for his past comments, though, say his presence on Jan. 6 is notable.
“It doesn’t speak to the whole of the Jewish community, but I think it does speak to the fact that even in marginalized communities in the United States [some members] will adopt and orient towards an authoritarian-style politics,” said Eric Ward, executive director of the Western States Center, a civil rights group that tracks extremism.
“The good news is that it’s not the majority in any of those communities. But neither is it an aberration,” Ward added.
Investigators have arrested and charged more than 300 people for participating in the assault, on charges ranging from unauthorized entry to assaults of police officers to conspiracy to disrupt the certification of the 2020 election. And they have indicated that dozens, if not hundreds, more are likely to be arrested as prosecutors comb through a massive trove of evidence in what they say is the most complex case ever undertaken by the Justice Department.
POLITICO was first alerted to Resnick’s presence in the Capitol by a researcher who has scoured open-source footage of the attack to identify participants. The researcher declined to be identified for this story in order to continue working on identifying people present in the building on Jan. 6.
Prosecutors have relied on independent crowdsourcing to compile evidence against numerous Capitol defendants, citing some of that work in court filings. After receiving images and footage of the Capitol breach that appeared to show Resnick’s presence, POLITICO confirmed his identity with several of his associates.
Notably, Resnick penned an op-ed in the American Thinker last month defending the Capitol riot as a natural reaction to Trump’s widely disproven and baseless claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him.
“Democrats keep on declaring that never again can this country see its Capitol overtaken by a mob,” Resnick wrote. “Well, there’s an easy solution for that. Don’t steal elections in plain sight, and maybe ordinarily law-abiding citizens won’t snap.”
Resnick did not mention in his column that he was inside the building that day. But the op-ed aligned with a series of social media posts he made at the time and in the weeks since. In a tweet timestamped 5:37 p.m. on Jan. 6, Resnick responded to Trump ally Sara Carter’s tweet urging calm amid the Capitol riot.
“Please explain how you plan on making sure Democrats don’t cheat four years from now,” Resnick wrote.
He posted similar commentary on Parler in the ensuing days, raising questions about a police officer’s decision to fire the shot that killed rioter Ashli Babbitt as she sought to enter the House Chamber. On Jan. 8 he suggested that a clip of a local TV interview with a witness to Babbitt’s shooting should go viral.
Several alleged rioters facing charges for entering the Capitol have argued that they were there as journalists, capturing the events of the day. But prosecutors have pointed to evidence in some of those cases that the charged individuals were causing or encouraging some of the chaos that unfolded inside the Capitol, and they’ve described painstaking cell phone record checks to identify which people inside the Capitol were not authorized to be there.
For example, Anthime Gionet, an alt-right figure known as Baked Alaska, has argued that he entered the Capitol in a journalistic capacity. He faces charges for breaching the building, when prosecutors say he berated an officer who sought to force his exit. In a filing last week, the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington, D.C., disputed Gionet’s claim he was in the Capitol as a journalist.
The gravest charges lodged in the aftermath of Jan. 6 have been against members of groups like the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys, paramilitary organizations who prosecutors say carried out plans to disrupt the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory.
Among those unaffiliated with the groups were a mishmash of white supremacists, QAnon conspiracy theorists and many who simply said they believed Trump’s exhortations that the election was stolen and they needed to “stop the steal.”
One who has been arrested, Robert Packer, was photographed wearing a “Camp Auschwitz” shirt. Another, Timothy Hale-Cusanelli, was ordered detained pending trial because of his increasingly violent rhetoric espousing white supremacist views. Hale-Cusanelli, an Army reservist who worked at a naval weapons base in New Jersey, was seen by a significant majority of colleagues as an overt racist and anti-Semite, according to interviews by Navy investigators.
Ward said the Jewish Press should clarify whether Resnick was in the Capitol on the publication’s behalf on Jan. 6.
“Where he works as a journalist is not willing to be clear about whether he was there in the role of a journalist or in the role of a private citizen,” Ward said. “The reason that is disconcerting is we are in a time where journalists have been facing increasing attacks from political movements. … Maintaining the independence of journalists is critically important.”
During Resnick’s lengthy February interview with Trump’s lead impeachment attorney, David Schoen — held days after the Senate acquitted the former president for inciting the Jan. 6 attack — the two also discussed the broader question of Jewish Trump supporters facing blowback from within their faith community.
Schoen told Resnick about his decision to join the impeachment defense team and described the backstory of his request to suspend the impeachment trial for the Jewish Sabbath. That proposal won support from the Senate’s first Jewish majority leader, Chuck Schumer, but which Schoen later rescinded, agreeing to hand off duties to his co-counsels.
“What do you say to people who hate Trump and think a Jew shouldn’t be defending someone whom they believe to be a horrible man?” Resnick asked Schoen.
“I think it’s a terrible position to take,” Schoen replied. “I was standing up for the Constitution and the president, and I was honored to do it. And the idea that you should be embarrassed somehow to be Jewish and do that — I don’t understand it.”
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