How does a crime get classified as ‘domestic terrorism’?
A federal judge has ordered the release of a Coast Guard officer and self-proclaimed white nationalist who is accused of stockpiling weapons as part of a plot to kill several media and Democratic political figures, including California Sen. Kamala Harris, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, and Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Los Angeles.
Lt. Christopher Hasson still faces weapons and drug charges, but prosecutors declined to charge him with a terrorism or attempted murder offense, prompting U.S. Magistrate Judge Charles Day to order him released from custody.
Hasson is not yet free. Day’s order gives Hasson’s attorneys time to propose conditions for his release, and prosecutors may argue to keep him in custody.
Judge Day’s decision appeared to shock even Hasson’s wife, who was in court for the hearing, according to WBAL reporter Kate Amara.
Prosecutors alleged that Hasson traveled the country, including to California, to amass a trove of firearms and accessories, such as silencers, over the last 10 years.
They further alleged that Hasson had compiled a hit list that named California politicians Pelosi, Harris and Waters, two Supreme Court justices, several other 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls besides Harris, and media figures such as CNN’s Chris Cuomo and MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough.
Hasson allegedly was inspired by right-wing mass shooters in Norway and New Zealand, and that he “identified himself as a white nationalist for over 30 years and advocated for ‘focused violence’ in order to establish a white homeland,” according to reporting from the Associated Press.
Hasson is charged with possession of silencers, possession of firearms and ammunition by an unlawful user of a controlled substance and unlawful possession of Tramadol, which is a powerful opioid, according to the Washington Post.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.