Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis gave a four-minute interview to a right-wing broadcaster wearing the insignia of the “Three Percenters” militia group and who on Jan. 6, 2021, was among the many mob assaulting the Capitol as a part of Donald Trump’s coup attempt.
“You have got national, regime media, that they desired to see Tampa [get struck by Hurricane Ian], because they thought that may be worse for Florida,” DeSantis said in response to a matter of whether there can be any “accountability” for news outlets for a way they’ve covered the storm.
Neither DeSantis’ governor’s office nor his campaign responded to HuffPost queries about why he would comply with an interview with someone openly wearing the domestic terror movement’s logo on his sleeve.
But Christina Pushaw, a campaign spokesperson, praised the interviewer, Brendon Leslie, in a social media post Wednesday evening. “Formerly relevant, powerful establishment lib media in Florida are jealous of him and his team. The smears won’t work,” she wrote.
Leslie, 29, was a broadcast journalist at one in all the Fort Myers television stations before quitting to form a pro-Trump website, “Florida’s Voice,” which now also supports DeSantis. He has previously interviewed DeSantis multiple times, but it surely is unclear whether he ever was wearing the militia group markings prior to Tuesday, when he spoke with the governor after he had finished a news conference in Cape Coral.
He denied being a member of the loosely organized militia group, and said he purchased the T-shirt from a North Carolina online store because “The shirt is admittedly cool and badass and I don’t care what you or any liberal journalist thinks.”
The shop acknowledged that the brand on the sleeve ― 13 black stars surrounding the Roman numeral three and the 12 months 1776 ― was a Three Percenters symbol but told HuffPost that the identical shirt, which features an AR-15 rifle with the Florida flag stylized into the ammunition clip was available in black without the militia logo.
“Three Percenters imagine that, just as a small revolutionary vanguard overthrew the tyrannical British rule in America, a dedicated group of contemporary patriots could rid the US of today’s alleged tyranny,” based on the Anti-Defamation League website.
The Three Percenters are among the many domestic terror groups whose members took part in the previous president’s try and remain in power, using violence and the specter of violence, despite losing the November 2020 election.
Several Three Percenters have been arrested and charged with attempting to obstruct an official proceeding, including Guy Reffitt, a recruiter for the Texas Three Percenters who received a seven-year prison sentence in August, one in all the longest up to now of any of the Jan. 6 insurrectionists.
“There have been Three Percenter flags waving over the riot as people were charging into the Capitol,” said Alex Friedfeld, an investigative researcher with the ADL’s Center on Extremism.
DeSantis’ governor’s office also wouldn’t explain what he meant by the phrase “regime” media, however the term is continuously utilized by followers of the previous president to suggest that President Joe Biden was not legitimately elected.
Leslie attended Trump’s pre-insurrection rally on Jan. 6 near the White House together with other Trump supporters who traveled there by bus after which marched on the Capitol at Trump’s request. He admitted in an interview with a Fort Myers TV station the day after Trump’s coup attempt that he entered the constructing to “occupy” the Capitol but didn’t take part in any violence.
In a video Leslie posted to Facebook, he’s seen back outside the Capitol on Jan. 6 and urging others, whom he known as “our people,” to not attack cops or damage the constructing.
He also acknowledged that he had entered the Capitol illegally, telling others that the Capitol and Washington, D.C., police were only “doing their job” by keeping Trump supporters out. “They need to. We’re trespassing,” he said on the video. “It’s one thing to occupy and it’s one other thing to attack… We’re doing this unsuitable. That is doing unsuitable.”