By JAMES GORDON MEEK and CATHERINE SANZ, ABC News
(WASHINGTON) — A retired U.S. Navy SEAL is facing questions from the FBI after boasting in a Facebook video about “breaching the Capitol” last Wednesday after traveling to Washington to join a rally for President Donald Trump, an assault he said in the video that he hoped would ignite a “positive revolution.”
The video shows Adam Newbold, 45, from Lisbon, Ohio, who the Navy confirmed is a retired reserve SEAL special warfare operator, in a car on his return home from Washington, telling his Facebook followers that he was “proud” of the assault on the U.S. Capitol building earlier that day.
Newbold, in the video, seeks to defend the actions of those who broke into the Capitol by falsely insisting that the only destruction occurred as the rioters tried to enter the building, and also incorrectly says that nothing was vandalized.
“There was destruction, breaching the Capitol, our building, our house. And, um, to get in you had to destroy doors and windows to get in,” Newbold says in the video. The video has been deleted from Facebook, but a copy of it was obtained by ABC News.
Clad in the attire of his Ohio-based firearms training business, ATG Worldwide, also known as Advanced Training Group Worldwide, the former elite U.S. Navy frogman recounts the damage rioters inflicted, implying that he both witnessed the events and participated in them himself.
“There are stories to tell from generations upon generations, um, that hopefully, uh … that hopefully it pans out to be a positive revolution,” he boasts. “HOOYAH!”
Newbold, who served 24 years in the U.S. Navy and has said online that he trains civilians and police in tactical shooting, said he wanted to make lawmakers “think twice about what they’re doing” and to be left “shaking in their shoes.”
When reached by ABC News on Tuesday, Newbold confirmed that he had recorded his thoughts in the front seat of a vehicle on the night of the riot. He said that the FBI has interviewed him about his activities in the nation’s capital, and that the bureau has asked for a second interview.
“I am cooperating with the FBI,” Newbold told ABC News in a 45-minute interview in which he expressed remorse for his actions and said of the attack on the Capitol that “it was all taken too far.”
Speaking in an anguished tone far different from his post-riot video, Newbold professed that he “felt rage” that day, but that he accepts that Joe Biden will be the next commander-in-chief.
“I would like to express to you just a cry for clemency, as you understand that my life now has been absolutely turned upside-down,” Newbold told ABC News. “I am not a terrorist. I am not a traitor.”
Newbold denied that he ever assaulted police officers guarding the Capitol or penetrated the building himself, but said he was caught up in the moment with the crowd of Trump supporters trying to stop the certification of the 2020 presidential election. However after posting his own chest-thumping video on Facebook, he said the reality kicked in when he got word of the shooting death of one of the rioters, and later the death of a U.S. Capitol Police officer.
“It accomplished nothing. What the hell was it all for?” Newbold told ABC News.
The involvement of active or retired military in the Jan. 6 insurrection has drawn special attention from lawmakers and law enforcement because of the oath that members of American armed forces take to follow the Constitution. At least three of the rioters arrested to date are believed to have served in the U.S. military, as have some of those taking the lead in spreading conspiracy theories around the 2020 election.
Capt. Ryan Perry, a spokesperson for Naval Special Warfare Command, said, “It would be inappropriate to discuss the actions of an individual, whose reserve service ended almost four years ago, that are subject to an ongoing federal investigation. However, Rear Adm. Howard made it clear earlier this week in his message to the current Naval Special Warfare Force that the attack on Capitol Hill serves as ‘an imperative for each of us to reflect on, and reaffirm, our oath to support and defend the Constitution. We serve this great nation and our fellow Americans — all of them — equally, and without political bias."”
Retired Marine Mick Mulroy and retired Navy SEAL Eric Oehlerich, both ABC News contributors, said in a joint statement that “as members of the military, we fought to defend our constitutionally guaranteed right to free speech. But the attack against the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 was not about free speech; it was an insurrection. Any military member who participated violated their oath to defend the United States’ Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”
For his part, Newbold told ABC News that he will never take up arms against the government he has served in “many deployments” with the military and an intelligence agency.
While a number of those participating in the uprising wore military apparel, Newbold appears to be the first veteran from the U.S. special operations community to be identified as having participated in the events, which turned violent.
One video remaining on Newbold’s event page for the D.C. rally for Trump advised his friends and followers to consider bringing walking sticks and mounted American flags to use as weapons to potentially fend off what he claimed could be violence by left-wing Antifa protesters, as well as pepper spray and collapsible batons to defend themselves if necessary. Law enforcement officials have said there is no evidence that anybody from Antifa participated in the violence on Capitol Hill last week.
Some Trump supporters used the poles from their Stars and Stripes flags, as well as batons and pepper spray, to brutally assault U.S. Capitol Police and D.C. Metropolitan Police Department responding officers, as seen in violent videos from last Wednesday.
Some have compared the videos of crowds cheering each swing of a makeshift club at a police officer to Romans cheering gladiators in the Coliseum.
“Now I regret being in the crowd,” Newbold told ABC News. “When you are in the arena, you don’t see the big picture.”
In a photo taken during the riot, Newbold is seen straddling an abandoned and ransacked U.S. Capitol Police motorcycle. Before going to Washington, he spoke of trying to turn police officers to his point of view, but now he says that once there, he tried to de-escalate the violence and even stopped others from attacking officers, and that he thanked the police for their service on the Capitol steps.
But he also admits that in the video made after the incursion, he presented a much different tone than the one he has since adopted.
“I will tell you that some of your friends, your brothers, your members here, and patriots, were on the very, very front lines of that,” Newbold says in his Jan. 6 video. “No matter how the media spins it, guys, it was a necessary thing.”
Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.