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Daines helped Montana man charged in Capitol riot return to U.S.

FILE – In this Jan. 6, 2021, file photo rioters loyal to President Donald Trump try to break through a police barrier at the Capitol in Washington. Arguments begin Tuesday, Feb. 9, in the impeachment trial of Donald Trump on allegations that he incited the violent mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

(Daily Montanan) A Dillon man arrested Saturday for his alleged role in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol was stuck in Morocco when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States, and U.S. Sen. Steve Daines helped get him home then.

Isaac Sturgeon, 32, was arrested at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York on Saturday and faces multiple federal charges, according to charging documents.

A statement sent Monday by Daines’ office said the senator did not know of Sturgeon’s involvement in the riots, and that Daines helped get more than 100 Montanans home when the pandemic hit.

“As the senator would do in any other circumstance, he helped work to get [Sturgeon] home,” the statement said.

Among other things, Sturgeon is accused of using a metal police barricade to push past officers in an attempt to access the Capitol. He is also charged with obstruction of justice, assaulting, resisting or impeding certain officers, illegally entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds, engaging in physical violence in a restricted building or grounds, an act of physical violence in the Capitol grounds or buildings, and impeding passage through the Capitol grounds or buildings.

At the request of Sturgeon’s mom in December, Daines helped Sturgeon resolve an issue with renewing his passport. The issue, which Daines’ office did not identify, was eventually fixed, and Sturgeon received his passport on Jan. 8, two days after the riots and about two weeks before he left for Kenya. The warrant for Sturgeon’s arrest was issued on Feb. 5, according to court documents.

Investigators said Sturgeon flew to Kenya in late January. They said he planned to return home in early April, but was discovered and deported by Kenyan officials over the weekend.

Investigators said they first discovered Sturgeon on police body camera footage from Jan. 6 and eventually found an associated Instagram account that showed several pictures and comments illustrating the events that day.

Two people also came forward saying they recognized Sturgeon in pictures posted by the FBI. One of the tipsters told the agency that Sturgeon “traveled frequently and had access to numerous weapons,” according to court files.

In the very beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic, Sturgeon was stranded in Morocco, according to news reports. In a March 2020 press release, Daines talked about facilitating Sturgeons’ return to the United States.

“I’m so glad to have helped Isaac return to the U.S. from being stuck abroad during this time. I wish Isaac and his family well and look forward to hearing about their reunion, welcome Isaac!” Daines wrote in the press release.

Maritsa Georgiou of NBC Montana first reported the connection between Daines and Sturgeon. Sturgeon is the fourth Montanan to be charged with participating in the insurrection, according to a Federal Bureau of Investigation database.

According to the statement released by Daines on Monday, Sturgeon’s parents reached out to him in March 2020 to help get their son home. The senator said he condemns all violence and denounced the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

Sturgeon was thinking about joining the National Guard two years ago, according to a report by KXLF. “I have a landscaping business and nothing to do in the winter, and I’ve always wanted to serve my country,” he told the station in 2019. It is unclear if he ever joined.

Sturgeon is currently being held in New York, while prosecutors attempt to extradite him to Washington, D.C.

Sturgeon is represented by federal public defender Ashley Burrell. Burrell did not comment on the case when reached by phone by the Daily Montanan.