A Republican lawmaker who went to prison for breaching the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, after live-streaming the event on Facebook says he has formed a congressional exploratory committee and is considering a run for higher office.
Derrick Evans, a former West Virginia state delegate, said in a statement issued Tuesday that after "months of soul-searching" — some of them done in a federal penitentiary — he is "ready to step back into the political arena."
Evans was first elected to the West Virginia House of Delegates in 2020, but his time in office was short-lived after video surfaced showing the Republican celebrating alongside pro-Donald Trump rioters.
Michael Nigro/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021
In a video clip he later deleted from social media, Evans could be heard shouting, "We're in! We're in, baby!"
Journalists recorded the video and re-shared the clip on social media, prompting fellow West Virginia lawmakers to call for his resignation.
Shortly after the riots, Evans shared a written statement on Facebook saying he was headed back to West Virginia and "did not have any negative interactions with law enforcement, nor did I participate in any destruction that may have occurred."
Days later, however, U.S. officials announced that Evans was charged in a criminal complaint with entering a restricted area and entering the Capitol. Evans announced his resignation the following day.
West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, also a Republican, told local WCHS News it was shameful that Evans participated.
"I don't know this gentleman at all, but I think that's absolutely a shame," Justice told the news outlet. "From the standpoint of a delegate-to-be storming the capital of the United States of America, how could you possibly condone that?"
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While serving his time, Evans says in a new statement he spent time thinking about politics and "all the variables" that led him to prison.
Evans stopped short of expressing remorse, however, instead blaming "failures by elected lawmakers and the media" for the events of Jan. 6.
"Two months ago, I sat in federal prison thinking about the current state of politics in West Virginia and across America," Evans said in his statement. "I thought long and hard about all the variables that led me to that Michigan facility ... But I still wasn't sure if I was ready to reenter the arena that nearly took everything from me — my career, my livelihood, time with my family."
Now, it seems, he is sure — and looking forward "to making a formal announcement, once [the congressional exploratory committee] gets its job done," he added in his statement.