More than 250 people have been charged thus far as a result of the January 6th riot on Capitol Hill. Most are facing multiple, serious felony charges that could result in lengthy jail terms. More are expected to be arrested as the investigation continues. One thing that most of the suspects have in common is a serious problem when it comes to attempting to mount a legal defense. There are literally hundreds of videos that have been gleaned from social media providing damning evidence of their actions on that day. Defense attorneys representing many of the rioters have come up with one tactic to try to clear their clients of wrongdoing. They’re blaming former President Trump, saying that he was the one who “summoned” them to the White House and “instructed” them to shut down the count of the electors. Unfortunately for them, judges don’t seem to be buying that defense so far. (Associated Press)
The “Trump-made-me-do-it” defense is already looking like a longshot.
Facing damning evidence in the deadly Capitol siege last month — including social media posts flaunting their actions — rioters are arguing in court they were following then-President Donald Trump’s instructions on Jan. 6. But the legal strategy has already been shot down by at least one judge and experts believe the argument is not likely to get anyone off the hook for the insurrection where five people died, including a police officer.
“This purported defense, if recognized, would undermine the rule of law because then, just like a king or a dictator, the president could dictate what’s illegal and what isn’t in this country,” U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell said recently in ordering pretrial detention of William Chrestman, a suspected member of the Kansas City-area chapter of the Proud Boys. “And that is not how we operate here.”
I would first note that there’s something rather strange about a group of people so dedicated and loyal to Donald Trump that they would travel across the country to attend his rally outside the White House, now turning around and trying to throw him under the bus. People so dedicated to the idea of “stopping the steal” that they were willing to risk injury or death (in at least one case) to defend the President are now casting the blame on him in an effort to avoid jail time.