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South Fayette man pleads guilty to assaulting police officers during Capitol riot

The South Fayette man who wielded a baseball bat to smash windows at the U.S. Capitol and later used a large pole to repeatedly strike police officers protecting Congress during the Jan. 6 riot pleaded guilty to his role in the attack.

Jorden Robert Mink, 29, pleaded guilty Tuesday to two federal charges – assaulting, resisting, impeding certain officers using a dangerous weapon and theft of government property – while appearing before U.S. District Judge Randolph Moss in federal court in Washington, D.C.

Mink faces a sentence of 57 to 71 months in prison and at least a $20,000 fine, according to court documents. Mink is scheduled to be sentenced by Moss at 9 a.m. April 11, and he will be given credit for the 24 months he’s served in prison after his arrest two years ago this week.

Photographs and videos showed Mink using a baseball bat to break a window and enter the Capitol, where he began pulling out chairs and other furniture. A witness told investigators that Mink admitted to being at the Capitol during the riot and breaking the window.

According to a statement of offense that Mink signed acknowledging his actions, he also spit at officers and threw several objects at them, including a traffic cone and large stick. He later used a long pole to “violently and repeatedly strike” the police officers guarding a doorway at least five times, according to court documents.

As part of the plea deal prosecutors initially offered in October, Mink agreed to cooperate with federal investigators by giving them permission to interview him in the future and review his social media accounts and cellphone for messages and posts related to the Jan. 6 attack.

Unlike earlier proceedings involving Capitol rioters, courtroom audio of Mink’s plea hearing Tuesday was not available through teleconference. However, federal court records listed online confirmed his plea agreement and acknowledgement of his actions during the riot.

Federal investigators also said Mink posted on social media on Election Day in November 2020 a photograph showing him holding a semi-automatic rifle with an “I Voted” on it and a message playing off a quote by Abraham Lincoln.

“The ballot is stronger than the bullet. ... Well, my magazines will be fully loaded just in case it’s not,” Mink allegedly said.

Another photograph posted on social media showed him at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., three days before the Jan. 6 riot.

Mink has been jailed without bond since his arrest in McKees Rocks on Jan. 19, 2021, less than two weeks after the assault on the Capitol by supporters of former president Donald Trump while trying to thwart Congress from certifying the election for President Joe Biden.

His Pittsburgh-based defense attorney, Komron Maknoon, could not be reached for comment Tuesday. Assistant U.S. Attorney Holly Grosshans, who prosecuted the case, declined comment when reached by telephone Tuesday afternoon.

Shapiro takes oath of office as Pennsylvania's new governor
Democrat Josh Shapiro has become the 48th governor of Pennsylvania at the inaugural ceremony at the state Capitol
  • Updated

HARRISBURG – Democrat Josh Shapiro took the oath of office Tuesday to become the 48th governor of Pennsylvania, placing his hand on a stack of three Jewish Bibles at an inaugural ceremony outside the state Capitol to cap his blowout win in November’s election.

Shapiro, 49, takes over in the nation’s fifth-most populous state with more experience in state government than any of his recent predecessors, including six years as Pennsylvania’s elected attorney general and seven as a state lawmaker.

Chief Justice Debra Todd administered the oath on a stage erected behind the ornate Capitol in Harrisburg, with U.S. Sens. Bob Casey and John Fetterman, ex-governors, members of Congress and several thousand others bundled against the cold winter day.

“I am humbled to stand before you today as Pennsylvania’s 48th governor,” Shapiro said at the start of his 23-minute speech with his wife and four children nearby. “Along the winding road that has led to this moment, I have been grounded in my faith and family.”

Shapiro succeeds term-limited Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, and is the first governor of Pennsylvania since 1966 to be elected to succeed a member of his own party.

On stage with Shapiro were just over a dozen people he invited – including survivors of child sexual abuse, parents of children killed by gun violence and the widows of two state troopers killed in the line of duty – who aides say symbolize his work as attorney general and his bipartisan policy aims as governor.

“Your stories, your courage have stayed with me,” Shapiro said, addressing them. “And, they will motivate me every day as I serve as your governor.”

Shapiro did not spell out specific policy aims in his speech. But he emphasized themes that he has developed before and after the election: that voters are embracing democracy, rejecting extremism and hate, and asking their leaders to protect their rights and make progress on important quality-of-life issues.

“Now is the time to join together behind the unifying strength of three simple truths that have sustained our nation over the past two-and-a-half centuries: that above all else, beyond any momentary political differences, we value our freedom, we cherish our democracy and we love this country,” Shapiro said.

Hours before the inaugural ceremony, Shapiro’s friends and supporters, political elite and many who will work in the new administration arrived at the Capitol to mingle, get credentials and pack into the Senate chamber to witness the swearing-in of Democrat Austin Davis, 33, as Pennsylvania’s first Black lieutenant governor.

Shapiro takes the reins of a sprawling state government – it employs roughly 80,000 employees and handles more than $100 billion a year in state and federal money – that has billions in reserve and a stronger-than-usual economy for the slow-growing state.

But he also is moving across the street from the attorney general’s office to the executive suite in the Capitol even as the House of Representatives is paralyzed by a partisan fight for control and Republican lawmakers are aiming to remove some executive branch leeway to enact regulations.

Shapiro himself has preached bipartisanship, emphasizing his support from independents and Republicans in the election when he rolled up a powerhouse 15 percentage-point victory over the far-right Republican nominee, state Sen. Doug Mastriano.

For at least the next two years, every new law under Shapiro must have a GOP stamp of approval, considering the six-seat Republican majority in the state Senate.

To that end, Shapiro has tried to avoid radioactive political issues, staked out the middle on various entrenched policy fights and hired several Republicans for his Cabinet.

The Senate’s ranking Republican, Senate President Pro Tempore Kim Ward, R-Westmoreland, said Shapiro’s speech sounded “pretty bipartisan.”

“I think that’s very important because that’s how we’re going to govern with the Republican Senate and the Democratic House and governor,” Ward said.

Shapiro will sign ethics orders for his administration later this week, aides say, and will deliver his first speech to a joint session of the Legislature when he presents his first budget plan March 7.

Shapiro also resigned Tuesday as attorney general, leaving in control his top deputy of six years, Michelle Henry, 54, a career prosecutor from Bucks County whom Shapiro plans to nominate to fill the last two years of his term.

Shapiro, a devout Jew, chose a stack of three Jewish Bibles on which to take his oath.

One was a family Bible; the second was from the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh where a gunman in 2018 killed 11 worshippers in the deadliest antisemitic attack in U.S. history; and the third was an Army-issued tome carried by Herman Hershman of Philadelphia on D-Day in 1944.

Members of several faiths delivered an invocation beforehand.

The inauguration will culminate in a sold-out, $50-per-ticket bash at Rock Lititz Studios in Lititz featuring performances by rapper Wiz Khalifa, singer-songwriter Smokey Robinson and indie rock band Mt. Joy.

Pa. speaker's bipartisan group begins work on House rules
A bipartisan work group assembled by the new speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives is starting its work in the politically riven chamber
  • Updated

HARRISBURG – The new speaker of the Pennsylvania House said Tuesday that the first meeting of a bipartisan work group he assembled got off to a good start and that he’s hopeful they will help bridge the chamber’s partisan divide.

Speaker Mark Rozzi, D-Berks, held the first meeting with the group of three Democratic and three Republican state representatives shortly before a new governor was sworn in at noon.

Rozzi has said little in public since he was the surprise choice Jan. 3 to serve as speaker. As he walked from Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro’s inaugural event to his Capitol offices, he said the work group is developing proposed rules for the chamber and considering how to make progress on a measure Rozzi has long sought to allow some victims of child sexual abuse to file otherwise outdated lawsuits.

Since Rozzi became speaker two weeks ago, the House has not adopted rules, announced committee membership or held any votes.

“I think we just want to show that Democrats and Republicans can work together and not only find a pathway forward for the statute of limitations, but what can we do together? What other legislation can we pass that we can come to a compromise on?” Rozzi said.

He said the working group is “going to see where it goes. I think they’re willing to sit down and talk about how we move forward right now.”

Rozzi, who has vowed to serve as an independent speaker, on Thursday announced six lawmakers he chose to serve as what he’s calling the Speaker’s Workgroup to Move Pennsylvania Forward. Any rules they develop will have to be approved by a majority in the House in order to take effect.

Republican leaders and a few other GOP members joined with all Democrats to elect Rozzi speaker after a close November election and three Democratic vacancies resulted in a temporary 101-99 Republican margin. Democrats had been in the minority for 12 years.

Rozzi, who has spoken of his own abuse at the hands of a Catholic priest, has long advocated for a two-year “window” during which child sexual abuse survivors can sue. A constitutional amendment to create the two-year window needs to pass both legislative chambers any time over the next two years in order to go before voters for final approval in referendum form.

Democrats are hopeful they will reach a 102-100 majority once three House special elections are held in Democratic-leaning seats in the Pittsburgh area on Feb. 7, along with a Senate special election Jan. 31 in which an incumbent Republican House member is running.