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Brooklyn plumber turned political candidate busted in Capitol riot

July 28, 2021 Michael R. Sisak, Associated Press
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A New York City plumber who’s moonlighted as a fringe political candidate is in hot water for allegedly storming the U.S. Capitol during January’s insurrection, boasting about it on social media and then trying to cover his tracks.

Daniel Christmann, a 38-year-old who screamed at the city’s current Republican mayoral nominee during a debate two years ago, was arrested Wednesday at his Brooklyn home after the FBI was alerted to videos on his Instagram feed showing rioters inside the Capitol on Jan. 6, prosecutors said.

Christmann was seen on security camera footage climbing through a Capitol window and later acknowledged he was there when someone on Instagram asked if he had “stormed the capitol,” prosecutors said.

“Yeah im not going to lie,” Christmann said in his Jan. 7 reply, according to prosecutors, later bragging that he had “scaled a wall on a garden hose.”

Christmann, charged with disorderly and disruptive conduct inside the Capitol, was released on his own recognizance after an initial court appearance Wednesday in Brooklyn. He did not enter a plea. Another court hearing is scheduled for Aug. 10.

Christmann’s case will be prosecuted in Washington, D.C. Under the terms of his release, he’s only allowed to visit Washington for legal proceedings and is banned from leaving the U.S. or going inside any state capitols.

Christmann’s lawyer declined comment.

About 550 people have been charged with federal crimes after supporters of former President Donald Trump violently broke into the Capitol to disrupt the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory. The uprising led to Trump’s second impeachment and the start of congressional hearings Tuesday.

In addition to security footage, Christmann was also seen in the background of video footage showing throngs of people outside the Capitol, prosecutors said.

Christmann, a plumber and union pipefitter by trade, ran as a third-party candidate against State Senator Julia Salazar last November and lost by more than 90,000 votes. Christmann, running under the flag of his self-founded New Moderate Party, tallied just 2,235 votes — or 2.3% of votes cast.

About two weeks after the Jan. 6 riot, after two people he knew had been arrested for their alleged involvement, Christmann sent a Facebook message asking someone to delete his videos, prosecutors said.

“Its go time on the end of times,” he wrote in the Jan. 18 message, according to prosecutors.

The Instagram account where the FBI said Christmann posted videos from the Capitol riot bears the handle, “dannyforsenate,” prosecutors said.

Christmann also advertised himself on social media as a candidate for city council and on LinkedIn lists among his jobs a stint as a Journeyman Steamfitter and a failed effort to become New York City’s Public Advocate.

A Queens newspaper, the Rockaway Wave, described Christmann during his campaign for public advocate as a “MAGA Libertarian” — a reference to Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan. The newspaper reported Christmann tore into opponent Curtis Sliwa — now the Republican nominee for mayor — at a debate in January 2019 over his proposal to eliminate the public advocate post.

In a candidate questionnaire during his state senate run last year, Christmann described himself as a “hardworking, Blue-Collar, lifelong New Yorker” and a “no nonsense humanist” who wanted “what is best for the little guy.”

On LinkedIn, referring to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Christmann described himself as: “NYC’s real working man, needs to hold Cuomo’s feet to the fire!”

In the questionnaire, Christmann listed Malcolm X as “by far my favorite activist” and said Wolverine, the X-Men character played in the movies by Hugh Jackman, was the fictional character he’d most want to be.

Christmann wrote that he supported free markets but that when left unchecked “they become so oppressive that even Communism becomes appealing.”

He suggested a tax on technology to pay for healthcare, said he wanted to build up small businesses and floated a plan to overhaul the city’s public housing to included a path to ownership for residents.

“My goal is to help the people and eliminate the areas of our current model that exploit us and make housing inequitable,” Christmann wrote.

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