A former police officer admitted to climbing over fences to get into the Capitol during the 6 January riot but then claimed he only went inside because it was a rare moment to view historical art pieces.
After 18 years working for the Houston Police Department, he stepped down on January 14, Chief of Police Art Acevedo announced on Twitter.
The @houstonpolice officer in question tendered his resignation this morning. The Department will release his name upon the conclusion of our joint ongoing criminal investigation with @FBI and @TheJusticeDept. https://t.co/5HlwgGuIJf
— Chief Art Acevedo (@ArtAcevedo) January 14, 2021
On 20 January, Chief Acevedo put out a statement saying that they were "auditing arrests" by Mr Pham to "ensure there are no irregularities".
We must hold those who violate the law accountable. This is especially true when a crime is committed by an individual who also violated a solemn oath to protect and enforce the laws of our nation. https://t.co/rmDN9WhL4O
— Chief Art Acevedo (@ArtAcevedo) January 20, 2021
Federal investigators interviewed Mr Pham at his home in Richmond, Texas on 12 January. One agent asked to see the images on his phone. On the regular camera roll, there were no images of Mr Pham at the Capitol. When the agent checked the "deleted" folder, however, multiple images were showing that Mr Pham was on the scene, including an image of him posing in front of a statue of former President Gerald Ford with a Trump 2020 flag attached to it.
The agent showed the images to Mr Pham, and reminded him of the illegality of lying to a federal agent. Mr Pham immediately changed his story – that he was in DC on business, had joined the protest on a whim and had not entered the Capitol – but still claimed he was only in the building to view pieces of art.
Court documents say that he told agents that he "had no intention of committing any act of violence or vandalism at the Capitol,” that he didn't belong to any social media group where the 6 January rally was being advertised, didn't meet up with any Trump supporters upon arriving in DC and that he didn't bring a weapon with him. He saw officers protecting the building, but "did not engage with them,” the documents say.
He said he spent between 10 and 15 minutes in the Rotunda, which was confirmed by the metadata in his phone.
Mr Pham's lawyer, Nicole Hochglaube, said in an email to NBC News that he "is deeply saddened to be associated with the domestic terrorists who attacked our Capitol on 6 January, believes strongly in the rule of law, and that the election choosing President Biden was fair and free".