Jackson Reffitt, the 18-year-old who informed on his father to the FBI over the dad’s plans to protest the November election results several weeks before the 6 January Capitol riots, said that he made the decision to “be on the safe side” amid his dad’s potentially illegal plans.
“I put my emotions behind me to do what I thought was right,” Reffitt told the New York Times of his decision.
Reffitt, who gained the media spotlight last week after telling investigators that his dad, Guy W. Reffitt, threatened to shoot him if he informed on him, said he “just wanted someone to know” what his dad was up to. “He would always tell me that he’s going to do something big,” Reffitt Jr said.
“If you turn me in, you’re a traitor. And you know what happens to traitors. Traitors get shot,” Reffitt Sr reportedly said after returning home from the Capitol riots, according to his son’s testimony to the FBI.
The 18-year-old received no word from the FBI after making the initial tipoff, but the security agency contacted him as the Capitol siege unfolded, at which point he said he helped them “prove what they were trying to investigate.”
“I didn’t know what he was going to do, so I just did anything possible just to be on the safe side,” he said of the original tipoff.
Reffitt Jr said he has yet to find out if his father knows he informed on him, telling NYT that he was “afraid” what “he might think” after finding out. Still, he expressed hope that his ties with his dad could be repaired. “We’ll get better over time. I know we will.”
The young man’s actions left Americans divided. On Saturday, after he confirmed on Twitter that he was the individual interviewed on CNN about turning in his father, he received a flood of support from users calling him “brave” and “a patriot” and praising him for making “the right call.” He set up a gofundme, raising $93,000 from 3,000+ donors so father, saying he would use the money either for college or to help him “survive” in anticipation of getting “kicked out of my dad’s house due to my involvement in my dad’s case.”
Not everyone praised the younger Reffitt’s actions, however, with some users criticising him for going against his family, or even comparing him to Pavlik Morozov, the boy who denounced his father to Soviet authorities over his criminal activities, which led to the father’s arrest and prompted other members of the boy’s family to murder him and his younger brother.
Comrade Pavlik Morozov salutes you! His figure was iconic during Soviet times, highly praised by state media. He reported on his father for collaboration with enemies of the Soviet state. Maybe it’s a fiction forged for propaganda, but it amazes me how history repeats itself...— alisa (@alliss777) January 23, 2021
For much of the Cold War, Americans used the Morozov story as a case in point about the dreadful nature of the 'Soviet regime' and insisted that such a thing could never take place in their country.
Reffitt admitted to NYT that he still feels “weird” about informing on his father, even if he doesn’t regret it.
A day after the Capitol riots, the FBI issued a bulletin calling on members of the public to help identify the protesters who broke into the federal building. The storming of the complex led to the deaths of four demonstrators and one police officer, with dozens injured and over 200 criminal cases opened, ranging from domestic terrorism and seditious conspiracy to attempted assassination and insurrection.
The former president and his diehard supporters have been accused of seeking to illegally overturn the will of the voters and of trying to stage a coup. His followers have made counter claims, alleging it was the Democrats who staged a coup by "rigging" the November elections. Trump’s claims of widespread vote rigging have not stood up in any US state or federal court. He maintains that he has “hundreds” of sworn affidavits and “thousands” of witnesses to support his claims about alleged illegal activity.