(JTA) — When video emerged in 2021 of Elliot Resnick, the then-editor of the Jewish Press, among the rioters at the deadly Jan. 6 riot at the U.S, Capitol that year, his publishers had a ready explanation: He was working as a journalist, covering history.
Now an FBI charging document says that Resnick was taking part in that history — in other words, that he was a member of the mob that stormed the Capitol.
The FBI arrest warrant for Resnick, signed Tuesday by a U.S. magistrate, lays out why authorities believe he was involved in the rioting, and not just reporting on it. Resnick left the Jewish Press, a politically conservative Brooklyn-based newspaper that serves the Orthodox Jewish community, in 2021.
Inner City Press, which covers the federal courts in New York City, reported that Resnick was due to appear in court on Thursday. Resnick has been charged with interfering with law enforcement during a civil disorder, along with three charges related to entering and engaging in disruptive conduct while on restricted grounds. The charges may incur prison time.
The riot was spurred by former President Donald Trump’s false claims that he won the presidential election — claims that Resnick echoed on social media.
Using video evidence and the testimony of police, Erica Dobin, the FBI agent who authored the charging document, wrote that Resnick held the arm of a police officer attempting to use chemical irritant to repel the rioters. The agent alleges that Resnick attempted to open doors for rioters to follow him, even when a police officer was trying to keep the door closed, and that he beckoned rioters to follow him and that he pulled rioters in through an open door.
The charging document also quotes at least one policeman who instructed Resnick to leave.
The charge of interfering with law enforcement carries a possible sentence of up to three years. Resnick did not reply to requests for comment made through social media direct messages. He was active on social media hours before being contacted.
There have been more than 1,000 arrests related to the insurrection. Of those arrested, more than 500 have pleaded guilty and another 69 have been convicted in the courts. Of those sentenced, roughly half have been sentenced to prison for periods ranging from seven days to more than ten years.
The document notes that Resnick was employed by the Jewish Press at the time of the riot and that he left in May 2021. The FBI launched its investigation in June 2021. Dobin indicates in the charging document that she was sensitive to Resnick’s status as a journalist on the day of the insurrection. She says in a footnote that she “complied with the U.S. Department of Justice’s News Media Policy in consultation and coordination with DOJ’s Policy and Statutory Enforcement Unit.”
The charging document notes Resnick’s social media posts at the time, which repeatedly called for people to face unspecified “consequences” because of his contention that the election was stolen from Trump.
When Politico first revealed in April 2021 that Resnick’s presence at the riot was captured on video, the Jewish Press said that Resnick was “covering the rally and the rest of the day’s terrible events for The Jewish Press.” It noted Resnick’s past expressions of support for Trump.
“The Jewish Press does not see why Elliot’s personal views on former President Trump should make him any different from the dozens of other journalists covering the events, including many inside the Capitol building during the riots, nor why his presence justifies an article in Politico while the presence of other reporters inside the building does not,” his newspaper said.
When Resnick left the paper a few months later, in May, the paper did not provide an explanation for the decision.
The FBI charging document says the investigation was launched based on two tips called into the FBI, one from someone who had read the article on Politico’s website and another who “indicated they had known Resnick since childhood and recognized him in video footage showing the storming of the U.S. Capitol which had been posted online.”
Resnick, who worked at the Jewish Press beginning in 2006 and was its editor-in-chief from 2018-2021, has a history of using incendiary language and has called the gay rights movement “evil.” Under Resnick’s editorship, the Jewish Press was criticized by the Anti-Defamation League in 2019 after publishing an op-ed titled “The Pride Parade: What Are They Proud Of?” which compared marchers in the New York City event to animals, adulterers and thieves.
He also has a history of derogatory statements about Black people.
“If blacks resent America’s [sic] so much, let them discard Christianity (which the ‘white man’ gave them) and re-embrace the primitive religions they practiced in Africa,” Resnick wrote in a tweet in 2019.
“Can someone give me a coherent reason why blackface is racist?” he wrote in another tweet that year.