A West Virginia lawmaker who filmed himself and supporters of President Donald Trump storming into the U.S. Capitol announced Saturday that he is resigning, effectively immediately. State Delegate Derrick Evans’ lawyer told CBS affiliate WVNS-TV on Friday that he would not step down and that he “committed no criminal act that day.”
Evans reversed course on Saturday, saying in a statement that he now felt it was best to resign his seat in the House “and focus on my personal situation and those I love.” He faced bipartisan calls for his resignation as federal prosecutors step up their pursuit of violent perpetrators.
“I take full responsibility for my actions, and deeply regret any hurt, pain or embarrassment I may have caused my family, friends, constituents and fellow West Virginians,” Evans said in a statement. “I hope this action I take today can remove any cloud of distraction from the state Legislature, so my colleagues can get to work in earnest building a brighter future for our state. And more importantly, I hope it helps to begin the healing process, so we can all move forward and come together as ‘One Nation, Under God.'”
Evans was one of three men charged Saturday in federal court in the District of Columbia in connection with the riots. At least 13 people of several dozen arrested in connection with the riots are facing federal charges. Evans, 35, was charged with “one count of knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority; and one count of violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol Grounds,” reads a press release from the Department of Justice. He was taken into custody Friday.
According to the DOJ, Evans “streamed live to his Facebook page a video of himself joining and encouraging a crowd unlawfully entering the U.S. Capitol. In the video, Evans is allegedly seen crossing the threshold of the doorway into the U.S. Capitol and shouting, “We’re in, we’re in! Derrick Evans is in the Capitol!”
Evans was among lawmakers from at least seven states who traveled to Washington, D.C., for demonstrations rooted in the baseless conspiracy theory that Democrat Joe Biden stole the presidential election. Wearing a helmet, Evans ultimately joined a screaming mob as it pushed its way into the Capitol building, and livestreamed himself joyfully strolling inside.
“We’re in! Keep it moving, baby!” he said in a packed doorway amid Trump followers holding flags and complaining of being pepper sprayed. Once inside, Evans could be seen on video milling around the Capitol Rotunda, where historical paintings depict the republic’s founding, and yelled “no vandalizing.”
A cell phone recording of a portion of now-deleted video. “We’re in! We’re in! Derrick Evans is in the Capitol!” https://t.co/IKQzeLoVFf pic.twitter.com/pacZiVN0Cp
The Republican speaker of the West Virginia House of Delegates, Roger Hanshaw, said Wednesday night that Evans will need to “answer to his constituents and colleagues” for his actions. Democratic leadership called for his prosecution. About 40,000 people signed a petition on change.org asking for Evans’ removal.
“He committed no criminal act that day,” Bryan said in a statement late Thursday.
The two U.S. Attorneys in West Virginia said in a statement that they are in touch with counterparts in other states and “prepared to enforce the Rule of Law and the laws of these United States.”
Evans, a vocal conservative activist with more than 30,000 followers on Facebook, has not publicly posted on social media since issuing a statement Wednesday that he attended the events as an “independent member of the media to film history.” He took his Twitter account private late Wednesday and didn’t respond to emailed questions.
“At no point was Mr. Evans located in the crowd on the West side of the (Capitol) building, nor anywhere else on the Capitol grounds, where violence and destruction of property was, or had been, occurring,” Bryan said.
In his now-deleted video, widely shared online, Evans is clamoring inside a jampacked Capitol building doorway, trying with others to push his way inside. He hollers along with other Trump loyalists and thanks a law enforcement officer for letting them in.
Strolling the grand Capitol Rotunda, where historic paintings depict the republic’s founding, Evans implores others to not vandalize artwork and busts, some of which would indeed be vandalized.
“Our house!” Evans yells inside Capitol halls. “I don’t know where we’re going. I’m following the crowd.”
Like several other political first-time winners in November’s West Virginia elections, Evans swept aside a Democratic rival to win his seat representing Wayne County. High GOP turnout credited to Mr. Trump elevated down-ballot Republicans in the state and gave the party a statehouse supermajority.
The chairwoman of the state GOP, Melody Potter, declined to answer questions about Evans.
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