Federal authorities have seized about $90,000 from the Black Lives Matter activist facing criminal charges who sold Jan. 6 footage to major news outlets, which captured the fatal shooting of Ashli Babbitt inside the Capitol building.
John Earle Sullivan, who portrays himself as an independent journalist, is accused of participating in the Capitol Hill riot and inciting violence, according to the court filings unsealed Thursday. Federal prosecutors argue that Sullivan embedded himself among the pro-Trump mob that stormed the Capitol building on Jan. 6 in order to contest the certification of the 2020 presidential election results.
Sullivan maintains he was on federal grounds to report on the event, but authorities argue he encouraged other rioters to "burn" the complex down.
He was arrested in January for participating "knowingly and willfully" in illegal conduct when he breached the Capitol, according to the sworn affidavit. Sullivan now faces eight criminal counts, including weapon-related charges.
Sullivan recorded video of the fatal confrontation between rioters and police just outside the House of Representatives chamber. Sullivan's footage included the shooting death of Air Force veteran Ashli Babbitt by an office on the Capitol Police force. According to court filings, Sullivan boasted to an unnamed witness that "my footage is worth like a million of dollars, millions of dollars."
One circulated clip shows Sullivan with filmmaker Jade Sacker cheering right after the pair reached the Capitol rotunda. Sacker followed Sullivan to film his exploits as part of the photojournalist's purported documentary project.
"You were right! We did it!" an elated Sacker announced to Sullivan. "I was trying to tell you. I couldn't say much. Is this not going to be the best film you ever made in your life?" replied Sullivan. When Sacker asked if he was recording, Sullivan falsely promised to delete the soundbite, which was uploaded online.
The 26-year-old Utah man sold the recording to several news outlets for $90,000 total, according to the seizure warrant. The news outlets were redacted from the document, Reuters reported. Sullivan received $35,000 each from CNN and NBC.
According to records filed in federal court, Sullivan was awarded $70,000 total from the two left-wing networks. CNN's Anderson Cooper featured Sullivan on his show in the wake of the riot to present his account as the self-professed heroic reporter who both witnessed and captured the Trump supporter's death.
In addition to the invoices filed by Sullivan's lawyers from the major broadcasters for rights to airing rights, he received $5,000 from Left/Right Productions and $2,500 from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, the Daily Caller reported.
Sullivan's legal counsel disclosed the payments as part of the Beehive State native's argument that he was present at the time to "document and report" the riotous event for journalistic purposes, not to incite or engage in violence.
"Defendant is legitimately self-employed as a documentarian and it is oppressive to require that he not be allowed to continue his primary area of employment for an extended period of time," attorney Steven Kiersh wrote in another court filing, which argued for Sullivan's continued usage of Facebook and Twitter.
The federal magistrate judge overseeing Sullivan's case ruled in February that he can continue to use the digital networks, but that he must cut ties with the far-left group he founded that the Justice Department claims promotes and glorifies violent protests. Sullivan, the founder of Utah-based extremist group Insurgence USA, insists that he was not there to cause chaos.
But an FBI special agent noted in the sworn affidavit that Sullivan even admitted that he has no press credentials. The investigation failed to yield "any connection between Sullivan and any journalistic organization," the FBI agent wrote.
There are recorded examples of Sullivan agitating the crowd. When individuals climbed the wall to reach the plaza just outside the Capitol building's entrance, Sullivan can be heard shouting on-camera: "You guys are f—ing savage. Let's go!"
"We did this together. F— yeah! We are all a part of this history," Sullivan stated in video evidence cited by the prosecutors. "Let's burn this shit down."
Sullivan was released from jail on house arrest, ordering that remain under home detention awaiting possible trial while internet usage is monitored by probation officials. It's been revealed that Sullivan has decided to use social media to accuse an actual journalist, who has alibis that can attest to his whereabouts overseas on the day in question, of the same inflammatory and evasive tactics that Sullivan employed during and in the aftermath of the Washington attack.
He has falsely accused The Post Millennial's editor-at-large Andy Ngo of storming the Capitol building and then fleeing the United States to "avoid prosecution" from the federal government "due to [Ngo's] direct involvement in the insurrection."
The alleged photographic evidence that Sullivan points to pictures another Asian man at the 8:26 mark of the far-left rioter's 50-minute continuous YouTube video. "It seems like someone is guilty; he needs some accountability," Sullivan tweeted. "I was not there and the person in this photo is not me," commented Ngo.
Ngo has since threatened in March to sue Sullivan for defamation.
Sullivan has also decried online how he's been charged as an agent provocateur who lacked press credentials from any accredited news agency, which he stated invalidated his work "as an independent journalist and small business owner."
He stressed via YouTube live stream that the online ban against him has been lifted: "I do not have any restrictions on social media. I don't have restrictions as far as being able to travel outside of my house. I can go wherever I want to go."
Sullivan has promoted arson and violence against political officials in the past.
In one viral tweet, Sullivan was spotted outside the White House in late August 2020 threatening to "rip" President Donald Trump out of office, calling for an uprising and urging his followers not to wait until the next presidential election.
"We f—ing about to burn this shit down," Sullivan declared to the crowd members.
Sullivan was arrested and charged earlier in July 2020 during an Antifa-Black Lives Matter riot where drivers in Provo were threatened and one was shot, DeseretNews reported. Sullivan was booked into the Utah County Jail at the time for investigation of rioting, making a threat of violence, and criminal mischief.
Left-wing figures have questioned Sullivan's post-siege behavior and condemned the self-styled social justice activist's successful attempts to insert himself into the protest community. Sullivan has since been disavowed by other Black Lives Matter activists in Utah. BLM's Utah chapter leader Lex Scott insisted to Fox News that the organization does "not want to be associated" with Sullivan. "He needs to stop pretending he is part of this movement here," she countered.