Federal prosecutors revealed Friday that the Navy conducted its own internal investigation into Timothy Hale-Cusanelli, which uncovered numerous incidents in which it promoted racist and sexist views. The Naval Criminal Investigation Service interviewed 44 of his colleagues and 34 of them said he had “extremist or radical views related to the Jewish people, minorities and women.”
Hale-Cusanelli, 30, was charged with seven criminal offenses, including obstructions in congressional proceedings, civil unrest, and disorderly conduct at the Capitol. He has not yet filed a plea.
His defense attorney declined to comment Sunday on the new details of the Navy’s investigation, but has noted in court records that Hale-Cusanelli maintains he is not a white supremacist.
Colleagues told Navy investigators that Hale-Cusanelli made almost daily comments against Jews, who defended the deaths of babies with disabilities and had “problems with women,” according to court statements. Prosecutors said they found racist memes on their phone, including one with the word n, one comparing blacks to animals and one insulting George Floyd.
A New Jersey federal magistrate ordered his release shortly after his arrest in January, but the Justice Department persuaded a higher judge in Washington, DC, to block his release pending further review. . An arrest hearing is scheduled for Thursday.
A trail of hateful comments
Hale-Cusanelli worked as a security contractor at Earle Naval Weapons Station near Colts Neck, New Jersey. He maintained a “secret” security clearance as part of his job, according to prosecutors.
The Navy launched its own internal investigation after Hale-Cusanelli was arrested in January and nearly three dozen comrades shared stories of his alleged racist and fanatical comments. Prosecutors highlighted the Navy’s findings in a case defending his continued detention.
One of Hale-Cusanelli’s supervisors told investigators he would stop new colleagues and ask, “You’re not Jewish, are you?” A non-commissioned officer claimed they heard him say, “Jews, women and blacks were at the bottom of the totem pole.” Another base contractor said Hale-Cusanelli told them the Jews “ruin it even though they didn’t belong here,” according to the statement.
In a shocking revelation, prosecutors said Hale-Cusanelli arrived at the base last year wearing a distinctive mustache that resembled Nazi leader Adolf Hitler. One of his supervisors told Navy investigators that they confronted Hale-Cusanelli over his apparent “Hitler mustache.”
Another naval officer recalled that Hale-Cusanelli said, “Hitler should have finished the job.”
Prosecutors also found evidence that said they demonstrated Hale-Cusanelli’s extremist views after searching his phone. They found a video where he allegedly pushed the conspiracy theory that “Jews did 9/11” and another clip where he allegedly said, “I hate immigrants … intensely.”
On the day of the Capitol uprising, prosecutors say Hale-Cusanelli recorded a video of him shouting obscene vulgarity at a policewoman protecting the building.
The defense attorney retires
His lawyer, Jonathan Zucker, has said in court proceedings that Hale-Cusanelli is not a violent man and that he can be released safely in the custody of his close associates in New Jersey.
“Mr. Hale-Cusanelli is charged with crimes arising from entering and remaining on Capitol grounds, primarily crimes analogous to transgression,” Zucker wrote in a lawsuit. “He is not charged with crimes of violence or destruction. He never assaulted or threatened anyone.”
In an interview with FBI agents, Hale-Cusanelli denied being a Nazi sympathizer or having white supremacist views, according to defense statements. His lawyer acknowledged that his client’s posts on social media are “controversial,” but said they focus primarily on local politics.
One of Hale-Cusanelli’s supervisors at the Navy base where he worked sent a letter defending Hale-Cusanelli and attacking the press. He dismissed allegations that Hale-Cusanelli is a white supremacist in noting that he would “buy breakfast frequently” for a black colleague.
“I was appalled by the way he was slandered in the press for being a‘ white supremacist, ’” the sergeant said. John Getz wrote to the judge. “I never knew it would be like that.”
Getz said he was “proud that someone like (Hale-Cusanelli) served under me.” (Since his arrest, Hale-Cusanelli has been expelled from the Navy base where he worked with Getz).
But prosecutors told the judge that this brilliant comment “directly contradicts” what Getz told Navy investigators. Getz told the Navy that Hale-Cusanelli was a Holocaust denier who made racist comments “jokingly but not” and confronted Hale-Cusanelli for his behavior.
When FBI agents interviewed Getz about the discrepancy, he said he was not personally offended by Hale-Cusanelli’s conduct and wanted to “speak positively” about him to the judge.
Hale-Cusanelli was on army reserves at the time of the siege of the Capitol, but has since been discharged, according to court documentation. The Pentagon has said it has been a reservist since 2009.