Dr. Simone Gold, one of the nation’s leading purveyors of coronavirus misinformation, was one of the thousands of protesters that stormed the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6 of last year. The violent demonstration led to the deaths of four people, including four members of the crowd and one Capitol Police officer. Several more police officers committed suicide in the days following the attack.
For her role in the attack, Gold has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of entering and remaining in restricted buildings or grounds. The conviction carries a maximum sentence of six months in jail.
She is the founder of America’s Frontline Doctors, a controversial anti-vaccine group that has been disseminating misinformation about COVID-19 throughout the pandemic.
As part of her guilty plea, Gold acknowledged she and her co-defendant John Strand were directly in front of a police officer who was assaulted and dragged to the ground on the day of the attack. She also admitted to entering the building and giving a speech in Statuary Hall about her opposition to coronavirus vaccine mandates and lockdowns imposed by the government while Strand filmed her comments.
During the speech in the hall, she referred to the coronavirus vaccine as an “experimental, biological agent deceptively named a vaccine.”
After taking the plea, she told reporters that she followed the crowd into the Capitol Building on Jan 6, but she didn’t think she was doing anything wrong and didn’t see anyone breaking any laws.
“I can certainly speak to the place that I was, and it most emphatically was not a riot,” she said. “Where I was, was incredibly peaceful.”
Strand, communications director for America’s Frontline Doctors, said he went to the event with Gold to “ensure her safety.”
Gold was scheduled to give a speech on the steps of the Capitol that afternoon, but she was told that all speeches had been canceled. She estimates that she was in the building for around 20 minutes before law enforcement removed everyone from the premises.
After the demonstration, Gold had a change of heart. “I do regret being there,” she said less than a week after the siege. Her sentencing date is scheduled for June 16.
With over 400,000 followers on Twitter, Gold has emerged as one of the loudest opponents of federally mandated vaccines in the country. She has used her platform to endorse potentially dangerous drugs for the treatment of COVID-19, including the anti-parasitic drug ivermectin.
Dr. Irwin Redlener, founding director of Columbia University’s National Center for Disaster Preparedness, said Gold has had “a starring role” in the anti-vaccine movement by using her voice to “undermine science”.
“In some ways, her extremist voice seems to weigh with greater impact than the vast, vast majority of doctors who are saying, ‘Of course you need to take the vaccine. It will save your life,’” Redlener said.
Records from the Medical Board of California show Gold still has an active medical license in California with an office in Beverly Hills. She is also licensed to practice medical law in the state of New York. However, now that she’s pleaded guilty to a crime, she is at risk of being disbarred.
More than 750 people have been charged with federal crimes related to the Capitol riot, according to the Associated Press. Over 220 of them have pleaded guilty, mostly to misdemeanors, and more than 100 riot defendants have been sentenced.
While out on bond, Gold has continued her anti-vaccine misinformation crusade. But her organization is now under investigation by the Federal Trade Commission.
In October of last year, a House subcommittee launched an investigation into the telemedicine company her group founded for allegedly profiting from prescription drugs such as hydroxychloroquine that haven’t proven to be effective against COVID-19.
In a letter addressed to Gold’s organization, Rep. James Clyburn, who chairs the special House subcommittee on the coronavirus crisis, wrote, “While (America’s Frontline Doctors) is not alone in providing these services, it is reportedly among the top purveyors of questionable treatments nationwide and a prominent source of misinformation related to the coronavirus,” Clyburn wrote.