According to a report from the Associated Press, several of the Capitol rioters who are facing prison time for taking part and invading the halls of Congress in an effort to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential win are planning on telling the court that Donald Trump and conservative media outlets misled them and are to blame for their actions.
With hundreds of participants facing court dates for their participation in the Jan. 6th Capitol insurrection that had Republican and Democratic lawmakers fleeing for their lives from the mob after former president Trump spoke to a “Stop the Steal” rally, at least a few participants looking at jail time are pointing the finger at Trump for inciting the riot.
AP reports, “Lawyers for at least three defendants charged in connection with the violent siege tell The Associated Press that they will blame election misinformation and conspiracy theories, much of it pushed by then-President Donald Trump, for misleading their clients,” before adding, “The attorneys say those who spread that misinformation bear as much responsibility for the violence as do those who participated in the actual breach of the Capitol.”
According to one man — Anthony Antonio — facing jail time, Trump is the main reason he participated and he feels like an “idiot” for listening.
“I kind of sound like an idiot now saying it, but my faith was in him,” Antonio stated before admitting his interest in politics grew out of boredom during the height of COVID-19 pandemic that also occurred on Trump’s watch.
He stated that conservative media also played a part in his conversion from being apolitical to storming the Capitol building.
“I think they did a great job of convincing people,” he said of far-right reports that the election was being stolen.
“After Joe Biden’s victory in last year’s presidential election, Trump and his allies repeatedly claimed that the race was stolen, even though the claims have been repeatedly debunked by officials from both parties, outside experts and courts in several states and his own attorney general,” AP reports. “In many cases, the baseless claims about vote dumps, ballot fraud and corrupt election officials were amplified on social media, building Trump’s campaign to undermine faith in the election that began long before November.”
Albert Watkins, attorney for so-called QAnon shaman Jacob Chansley, has already stated that his client was brainwashed by the reporting.
“He is not crazy,” Watkins ex[lained. “The people who fell in love with (cult leader) Jim Jones and went down to Guyana, they had husbands and wives and lives. And then they drank the Kool-Aid.”
However, Christopher Slobogin, director of Vanderbilt Law School’s Criminal Justice Program, said trying to point the finger elsewhere is unlikely to sway the courts.
“It’s not an argument I’ve seen win,” he admitted, before adding, “I’m not blaming defense attorneys for bringing this up. You pull out all the stops and make all the arguments you can make. But just because you have a fixed, false belief that the election was stolen doesn’t mean you can storm the Capitol.”
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