Rep. Hakeem Jeffries & Family Threatened By Trump Supporter Robert Lemke On Day Of Capitol Riot
Robert Lemke, a 35-year-old California resident who claimed to be a U.S. Air Force captain and retired sheriff, was arrested in his home early Tuesday for allegedly sending threatening messages to family members of Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-New York).
Lemke did not participate in the Capitol riot on January 6, but he allegedly texted a congressman’s brother that day, telling him the congressman was “putting your entire family at risk with his lies and words,” according to the complaint out of the Southern District of New York.
The text stated that Joe Biden did not win the presidency and would not be president. It included a picture of a house in the same neighborhood as the victim, allegedly saying, “We are armed and nearby your house.”
“Congressman Jeffries extends his deep thanks and heartfelt gratitude to the FBI, US Capitol Police, NYPD and all law enforcement authorities involved for their commitment to protecting the safety and well-being of his family and all Members of the United States Congress,” the release from Jeffries’ office read.
In an interview with MSNBC, Jeffries said that the message had its roots in former President Donald Trump‘s claims of election fraud.
“What was chilling in the message that was received is that this individual said, ‘Stop telling lies. Biden did not win. He will not be president.’ And so, he was radicalized by the big lie that Donald Trump told,” Jeffries told Chris Hayes. “It certainly was unnerving… it was clearly designed to instill terror.”
On the same day Jeffries received the messages, Jeffries’ sister-in-law received a text saying, “Calm your husband down,” and made claims that he had been caught in some situation by hidden cameras. These messages were also traced to Lemke’s phone.
Once the messages were connected to Lemke’s phone, investigators searched his social accounts. A Facebook account was found in his name that includes a photo of the suspect, his face partially blocked by the words “Trump 2020” and “U.S. Air Force Veteran.” The background image is a picture of two people who were charged with criminal offenses over the summer for allegedly pointing firearms at Black Lives Matter demonstrated near St. Louis, Missouri.
The Facebook profile allegedly included hateful messages about other politicians, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) dating back to March 2019. A post called her a hypocrite for allegedly taking “gas-guzzling car rides.”
Days after the November election, Lemke posted on his page saying, “Folk. Be ready for war,” again reiterating the fraudulent election result claims Trump had made.
Although the criminal complaint states that Lemken is a former captain of the U.S. Air Force, the Air Force denies that he has ever worked for the service.
Lemke was expected to appear in federal court in California on Wednesday.