D.C. Attorney General drops criminal charge against Gold Star father who disrupted Biden SOTU speech over deadly Afghanistan withdrawal

 March 22, 2024

Gold Star father Steve Nikoui was controversially arrested by U.S. Capitol Police and charged with disrupting Congress after he heckled President Joe Biden about the disastrous 2021 U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan during his State of the Union address earlier this month.

The misdemeanor criminal charge Nikoui faced has now been dropped weeks later by Washington D.C.'s Democratic Attorney General Brian Schwalb, according to Fox News.

Nikoui had disrupted Biden's speech to draw attention to the untimely death of his son, U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Kareem Nikoui, who was killed along with 12 other U.S. service members and hundreds of Afghan civilians by a suicide bomber outside a gate of the crowded airport in Kabul during the chaotic evacuation of U.S. forces and allies in August 2021.

Charge dropped by prosecutor

The still-grieving Gold Star father had been seated in the gallery of the House chamber during President Biden's State of the Union address as the guest of Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL), a former combat veteran, who had immediately called for the criminal charge against Nikoui to be dropped.

Mast was joined in the call by other Republicans, most notably Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA), and Reps. Michael Waltz (R-FL), Michael McCaul (R-TX), and Darrell Issa (R-CA), who along with Waltz sent a letter to USCP Chief Tom Manger and DC AG Schwalb arguing for leniency for the father in mourning who disrupted the speech out of frustration with the lack of attention Biden has given to the tragedy.

Issa reportedly informed Nikoui of the good news in person on Tuesday in the U.S. Capitol building, as Nikoui was present along with other Gold Star families for a hearing on the fatally mismanaged Afghanistan withdrawal hosted by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair McCaul, and  Nikoui was said to be "thrilled and humbled" by what had occurred.

Nikoui "blessed," "humbled," and "honored" by support from Congress

"[I am] so blessed. Extremely humbled and honored to have the love and support from so many people and other Gold Star families, as well as members of Congress," Nikoui told the Daily Mail. "Especially Darrell Issa and his team. Who told me from that night that, 'we will fight for you!' Thank You Congressman Issa."

In an X post on Tuesday, Rep. Issa wrote, "BREAKING: All charges against Gold Star parent Steve Nikoui have been dropped. He did nothing wrong. And this is the right decision."

Rep. McCaul said in a statement, "I am glad the D.C. Attorney General dropped these ludicrous charges against Gold Star father Steve Nikoui after my hearing on President Biden’s deadly Afghanistan withdrawal."

"The President has yet to apologize to families like Steve's who lost loved ones in the terrorist bombing at Abbey Gate," he added. "These families deserve justice, not prosecution and persecution."

Charge could have resulted in $500 fine and 90 days in jail

The New York Post reported that D.C. AG Schwalb had noted a history of other disruptive protesters in the U.S. Capitol building not facing criminal prosecution -- tell that to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot participants -- in defense of his decision to not pursue the charge against the Gold Star father.

Nikoui had been charged with the misdemeanor crime of crowding, obstructing, or incommoding Congress, which typically results only in a $50 fine.

However, NewsNation reported that the charge Nikoui faced, if pressed to the fullest extent by prosecutors, can result in a maximum sentence of a $500 fine and up to 90 days in jail.

The outlet noted that the Gold Star families of the U.S. service members killed during the Afghanistan withdrawal are still demanding answers, accountability, and apologies from the Biden administration for what went wrong more than two years ago.

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