Sentencing hearings for two former leaders of the Proud Boys group convicted of seditious conspiracy and other crimes for the January 6, 2021 assault on the Capitol by Donald Trump supporters have been abruptly postponed.
Initially, a spokeswoman for the US Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia in a statement said the sentencing hearings would not proceed "due to an emergency" but a court spokeswoman later clarified that there was no "emergency" and said a new sentencing schedule was being hashed out.
Former Proud Boys chairman Enrique Tarrio and another former leader Ethan Nordean were supposed to be the first of five Proud Boys to face sentencing this week, with three other co-defendants due to be sentenced on Thursday and Friday.
Nordean is now due to be sentenced on September 1 at 2pm and Tarrio will be sentenced on September 5 at 2pm, according to the court's public docket.
Prosecutors are planning to ask US District Judge Timothy Kelly to sentence Tarrio to 33 years in prison and Nordean to 27 years.
Those recommendations exceed the longest sentence handed out so far over the assault by the former president's supporters on the seat of government, including Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes, who was sentenced in May to serve 18 years.
The attack was meant to stop Congress from certifying Democratic President Joe Biden's election which Trump claims was the result of fraud.
Trump currently holds a wide lead in the race for the Republican nomination to challenge Biden in 2024.
Prosecutors also want the judge to agree to terrorism enhancement for Tarrio and his co-defendants - a move that has the potential to add about 15 years to a prison term.
"These defendants and the men in their command saw themselves as the foot soldiers of the right — they were prepared to use, and they did use, force to stop the 'traitors' from stealing the election,'" federal prosecutors wrote in their sentencing memo.
More than 1000 people have been arrested on charges related to the Capitol riots, and of those at least 570 have pleaded guilty and 78 have been convicted at trial.
Special Counsel Jack Smith, who was tapped to investigate broader efforts to overturn the 2020 election, has since charged Trump for trying to keep himself in power.
Lawyers for Tarrio and Nordean will ask the judge to reject the terrorism enhancement request.
"While the instant offences are serious in nature, they are nowhere near and should not be grouped in the same category... as the heinous acts committed by individuals such as Timothy James McVeigh," Tarrio's lawyers wrote, referring to the man who carried out the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people.
In May, a jury convicted Tarrio and Nordean along with Joseph Biggs and Zachary Rehl of seditious conspiracy, a Civil War-era law that makes it a crime to conspire to oppose the government by force, and other felonies.
Biggs and Rehl were due to be sentenced on Thursday but the new times for their hearings remains unclear.
Prosecutors are seeking 33 years for Biggs and 30 years for Rehl.
A fifth defendant - Dominic Pezzola - was acquitted of the seditious conspiracy charge but convicted alongside the others of other felonies including obstructing an official proceeding.
Prosecutors are requesting a 20-year sentence for him.
All of the five defendants except Tarrio entered the Capitol during the attack.