Lawyers for John Sullivan, a 26-year-old Utah native, disclosed the payments as part of the activist’s argument that he was acting as a journalist in the Capitol rather than a rioter.
“Defendant is legitimately self-employed as a documentarian and it is oppressive to require that he not be allowed to continue his primary area of employment for an extended period of time,” Steven R. Kiersh, the Sullivan lawyer, wrote in a court filing in which he argued for Sullivan to be allowed to continue using Facebook and Twitter.
Sullivan, who founded the social justice group Insurgence USA, was charged on Jan. 13 with illegally entering the Capitol, civil disorder, and violent or disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.
Prosecutors cited video that Sullivan recorded inside the Capitol in which he called for burning down the building, while egging on others who had broken into the building.
“We accomplished this shit. We did this together. Fuck yeah! We are all a part of this history,” he said in a video cited by prosecutors. “Let’s burn this shit down,” he also allegedly said.
Sullivan gained national attention over footage he recorded of Air Force veteran Ashli Babbit being fatally shot by a Capitol police officer while trying to enter a barricaded portion of the building. Babbit was at the Capitol with numerous other supporters of President Donald Trump who were protesting the results of the 2020 presidential election.
Sullivan’s lawyers filed invoices from CNN and NBC showing he was paid $35,000 for rights to air the footage. Sullivan also received $5,000 from a company called Left/Right Productions and $2,500 from Australia’s ABC, according to the records.
Sullivan appeared for an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper after the shooting, in which his footage was aired.