Court Battles

Alleged Capitol rioter’s defense says he was ‘inspired by’ Trump

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The defense attorney for an accused Capitol rioter plans to argue that her client was “inspired” by former President Trump, joining others who have cast blame for the assault on Trump over his rhetoric and actions after the November election.

Emanuel Jackson, 20, of D.C., who prosecutors say was seen on video punching a police officer and hitting others with a metal bat, is one of at least six people charged in the raid who are pinning at least some blame on Trump in their defense, Reuters reported Tuesday.

Brandi Harden, who is representing Jackson as he faces federal assault charges, wrote in a Jan. 22 court filing that  “the nature and circumstances of this offense must be viewed through the lens of an event inspired by the President of the United States.”

The raid on the Capitol, she said, “appears to have been spontaneous and sparked by the statements made during the ‘Stop the Steal’ rally” held by Trump and his supporters earlier on Jan. 6.

Harden had called for Jackson’s release while awaiting trial, which a judge denied last month, according to Reuters. 

Michael Scibetta, the attorney for Proud Boys member Dominic Pezzola, who is accused of smashing a Capitol window with a stolen police shield, told Reuters that his client’s “logical thinking was” Trump “invited us down” when calling for his supporters to flock to D.C. on Jan. 6.

“The boss of the country said, ‘People of the country, come on down, let people know what you think,’ ” he said.

Riley June Williams’s attorney Lori Ulrich also asserted her client “took the president’s bait and went inside the Capitol” in a Jan. 21 court hearing. Williams was charged with stealing a laptop from Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) office. 

The attorney for one of the more prominent accused rioters, Anthony Chansley, also known as the QAnon Shaman, is also using the argument that Trump “duped” his client.

“He regrets very, very much having not just been duped by the president but by being in a position where he allowed that duping to put him in a position to make decisions he should not have made,” Al Watkins, Chansley’s attorney, told Missouri’s NBC-affiliated television station KSDK.

Representatives for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment on these defense strategies. 

Trump spoke to protesters at a “Stop the Steal” rally shortly before the raid on the Capitol, instructing listeners to march there, “to show strength” and “fight like hell.” Ahead of the event, he repeatedly promoted unfounded claims that widespread election fraud led to his loss against President Biden. 

The riot that ensued forced lawmakers to flee to secure locations and led to five deaths, including a Capitol Police officer. More than 150 people have been charged in connection with the breach. 

The House impeached Trump for the second time a week before he left the presidency, saying his remarks incited the violence. 

Trump’s new defense attorneys David Schoen and Bruce Castor on Tuesday detailed their strategy for the Senate impeachment trial set to start next week, saying it’s unconstitutional to impeach a former president and that Trump’s speech did not lead to the Capitol siege.

Tags Capitol breach Capitol raid Capitol riot Capitol riot charges Defense Donald Trump Nancy Pelosi Pro-Trump rally pro-Trump rioters
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