A Coast Guard lieutenant accused of being a white supremacist who stockpiled guns and compiled a target list of prominent Democrats will remain detained in federal custody after his arrest.
Federal Magistrate Judge Charles Day ordered 49-year-old Christopher Paul Hasson held Thursday but said he might be willing to reconsider later if the government hasn't charged him with more serious crimes in the next two weeks.
The U.S Attorney for Maryland, Robert Hur, told reporters outside the courthouse Thursday that the sheer number and force of the weapons recovered from Hasson's residence, coupled with the disturbing nature of his writings, "appear to reflect a very significant threat to the safety of our community," particularly given the position of trust that Hasson held with the U.S. government.
Hasson's defense attorney said the government made a histrionic characterization by filing inflammatory document to attract media attention and pressure the court to assure detention. His lawyer said Hasson is not a danger to the community, has no criminal record, has served the military for 28 years and is a good husband and father who should be with his family pending trial.
Hasson was arrested Friday on gun and drug charges, but prosecutors say those offenses are the "proverbial tip of the iceberg."
In a court filing, prosecutors say Hasson has espoused extremist views for years and drafted an email in which he said he was "dreaming of a way to kill almost every last person on the earth."
In a draft of a letter apparently intended for a known white supremacist leader, Hasson identified himself as a white nationalist for more than 30 years who advocated “focused violence” to create a “white homeland,” according to charging documents.
Prosecutors say federal agents found 15 firearms and more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition inside Hasson's Silver Spring, Maryland, apartment.
Prosecutors wrote Hasson is a domestic terrorist who “intends to murder innocent civilians on a scale rarely seen in this country” and must be detained.
They say internet searches show he was targeting top Democrats and created an Excel spreadsheet list of names, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Sens. Tim Kaine, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Richard Blumenthal, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke. The list also included top names in media, like MSNBC’s Chris Hayes and Joe Scarborough and CNN’s Don Lemon.
"I feel very, very confident that our law enforcement at the federal and local levels is on top of these things and making sure all of us whose names were on the list are safe,” Schumer said.
Law enforcement sources told NBC News the feds caught on to Hasson because of searches made on his computer at Coast Guard headquarters in Washington, D.C.
He is accused of searching the following phrases on Google the morning of Jan. 17: “what if trump illegally impeached,” “best place in dc to see congress people,” “where in dc to congress people live,” “civil war if trump impeached” and “social democrats usa.”
His search history also included searches for pro-Russian and neo-fascist literature.
Hasson routinely read portions of a manifesto written by Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik that prosecutors said instructs would-be assailants to collect firearms, food, disguises and survival tools, court papers said. Breivik, a right-wing extremist, is serving a 21-year sentence for killing 77 people in a 2011 bomb-and-shooting rampage.