A Coast Guard officer pleaded guilty Thursday to gun and drug charges after authorities said he stashed weapons and planned to murder Democratic politicians, Supreme Court justices and TV journalists.
Christopher P. Hasson, 50, admitted to all four charges against him — illegally possessing unregistered silencers, illegally possessing unserialized silencers, possession of a firearm by an unlawful user or addict of a controlled substance and illegal possession of a controlled substance — in federal court in Greenbelt, Md.
He was not charged with any terror-related crimes.
The Coast Guard lieutenant was arrested in February in his Silver Spring, Md., home, where authorities said they found a stockpile of weapons, including 15 guns, smoke grenades, silencers and more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition, the opioid painkiller Tramadol and other items.
Federal prosecutors allege Hasson compiled a spreadsheet of names he planned to target and claimed the self-described white nationalist was hell-bent on the “murder [of] innocent civilians on a scale rarely seen in this country.”
After Thursday’s hearing, Hasson’s public defender said the case had been “mischaracterized and sensationalized.”
Liz Oyer said Hasson “was not plotting a terrorist attack or any of the abhorrent acts that the prosecution has repeatedly speculated about but never actually charged.”
Some of the prominent figures whose names were listed on Hasson’s spreadsheet included House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.; Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.; and Democratic presidential hopefuls Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker and Kamala Harris.
Several cable TV personalities, including MSNBC’s Chris Hayes and Joe Scarborough and CNN’s Chris Cuomo and Van Jones were also mentioned.
Investigators said Hasson searched for Scarborough’s home address in January and Googled “best place in dc to see congress people” and “civil war if trump impeached,” according to The Washington Post.
Prosecutors said he also targeted two unidentified Supreme Court justices and two social media executives and also searched for their home addresses online.
A photo of firearms and ammunition found in Hasson’s Silver Spring, Md. home. (Maryland U.S. District Attorney’s Office via AP, File)
Investigators said Hasson appeared to be inspired by Anders Behring Breivik, a Norwegian right-wing extremist who killed 77 people in a 2011 bomb attack and shooting rampage.
His lawyers filed a request last week to bar prosecutors from introducing evidence linking him to white supremacist views or associations. In 2017, Hasson wrote to a Nazi leader where he advocated for “‘focused violence’ in order to establish a white homeland,” according to prosecutors.
Hasson, who had served in the Marines, worked at Coast Guard headquarters in Washington as an acquisition officer to acquire advanced new cutters for the agency. He faces up to 31 years in prison when he is sentenced Jan. 31.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.