Blame Trump? The jury heard that defense in the Capitol riot trial

Blame Trump?  The jury heard that defense in the Capitol riot trial

WASHINGTON ( Associated Press) – Mention of Donald Trump in the first few trials for those who attacked the US Capitol has been rare, but that has changed: The latest Capitol riot defendant to go to trial blames his actions on the former president and his Giving false claims of stolen elections.

Dustin Byron Thompson, an Ohio man accused of stealing a coat rack from the Capitol, doesn’t deny that he joined the crowd on January 6, 2021. But her attorney on Tuesday vowed to show that Trump abused his power to “authorise”. attack.

Defense attorney Samuel Shamansky described Trump as a man without investigation or integrity, and involved in a “sinister” conspiracy to encourage former President Thompson and other supporters to “do their dirty work”. were.

“It’s Donald Trump himself lying and using his position to authorize this attack,” Shamansky told the jury during the trial’s opening statements on Tuesday.

Justice Department prosecutor Jennifer Rozzoni said Thompson knew he was breaking the law that day.

“He chose to be part of the mayhem and chaos,” she said.

Thompson’s attorney this week sought subpoenas to call Trump and former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani as witnesses in their trial. A judge rejected that request, but ruled that the jury could hear a recording of the speech Trump and Giuliani gave at a rally before the riots.

An image of President Donald Trump is seen on a video screen before his speech to Ellipse supporters at the White House on Wednesday, January 6, 2021 in Washington, as Congress prepares to certify electoral college votes.
An image of President Donald Trump is seen on a video screen before his speech to Ellipse supporters at the White House on Wednesday, January 6, 2021 in Washington, as Congress prepares to certify electoral college votes.

Bill Clark via Getty Images

Thompson’s jury trial is the third in hundreds of Capitol riot indictments. The first two jurors ended up finding both defendants guilty on all counts with which they were charged.

In a February court filing, Shamansky said he wanted to argue at trial that Thompson was acting at the direction of Trump and “his various conspirators.” The lawyer called on others from Trump’s inner circle, including former White House strategist Steve Bannon, former White House senior adviser Stephen Miller and former Trump lawyers John Eastman and Sidney Powell.

Prosecutors said Thompson could not show that Trump or Giuliani had the authority to “empower” him to break the law. They also noted that the video of the rally speeches “perfectly captures” the tone, delivery and context of the statements, which are “moderately relevant” to Thompson’s proof of intent on January 6.

Thompson’s lawyer argued that Trump would testify that he and others “perpetrated a carefully crafted conspiracy to question the integrity of the 2020 presidential election.” Shamansky claimed that Giuliani encouraged rioters to engage in “trial by combat” and that Trump enraged the crowd by saying that “if you don’t fight like hell, you won’t have a country anymore.”

Shamansky said Thompson, who lost his job during the COVID-19 pandemic, became an avid consumer of conspiracy theories and lied about a stolen election.

“This is the garbage that Dustin Thompson is hearing day after day,” Shamansky said. “He goes down this rabbit hole. He listens to this echo chamber. And he acts accordingly.”

US District Judge Reggie Walton ruled in March that any personal testimony from Trump or Giuliani could mislead and mislead jurors.

More than 770 people have been charged with federal crimes since January 6. More than 250 of them have confessed to crimes, most of them for misdemeanors. Thompson is the fifth person to be tried on charges related to the riots.

On Monday, a jury convicted Thomas Robertson, a former Virginia police officer, of attacking the Capitol with another off-duty officer in order to obstruct Congress from authenticating President Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory. . Last month, a jury convicted a Texas man, Guy Refitt, of storming the Capitol with a holster.

Violent rebels loyal to President Donald Trump storm the Capitol on January 6, 2021 in Washington.
Violent rebels loyal to President Donald Trump storm the Capitol on January 6, 2021 in Washington.

A judge hearing testimony without a jury decided the cases against two other Capitol riot defendants in separate bench trials. US District Judge Trevor McFadden acquitted one of them of all charges and partially acquitted the other.

Thompson’s co-defendant is Robert Lyons, who pleaded guilty to riot-related charges in March.

Thompson, then 36, and Lyon, then 27, drove from Columbus, Ohio to Silver Spring, Maryland, stayed overnight in a hotel, and then took an Uber ride in Washington, D.C., on the morning of January 6. After that – President Donald Trump’s speech, Thompson and Lyon leave for the capital.

According to prosecutors, Thompson was wearing a “Trump 2020” winter hat and a bulletproof vest when he entered the Capitol and went to the Senate lawmaker’s office, where he stole two bottles of wine and a coat rack worth up to $500.

Thompson and Lyon traded text messages during the riots.

“Some girl is already dead,” Lyon said in a text, an apparent reference to the fatal shooting of a rioter, Ashley Babbitt, by a law enforcement officer.

This driver's license photo from the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) provided to the AP by the Calvert County Sheriff's Office shows Ashley Babbitt.  Babbitt was fatally shot by a Capitol Police employee inside the US Capitol Building in Washington on Wednesday, January 6, 2021, as rioters marched towards the House Chamber.
This driver’s license photo from the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) provided to the Associated Press by the Calvert County Sheriff’s Office shows Ashley Babbitt. Babbitt was fatally shot by a Capitol Police employee inside the US Capitol Building in Washington on Wednesday, January 6, 2021, as rioters marched towards the House Chamber.

Courtesy of Calvert County Sheriff’s Office via Maryland MVA/ Associated Press

“Was it Pelosi?” Thompson replied.

“I’m taking my country back,” Thompson later texted Lyon.

At around 6 p.m. on January 6, Thompson and Lyon were sitting on a sidewalk and waiting for an Uber driver when Capitol police officers approached and warned them they were in a restricted area. The FBI said that as they began to leave, Thompson picked up a coat rack that appeared to be from the Capitol. Thompson fled when officers told him to put the rack down, leaving him behind. Lyon stayed behind and identified himself and Thompson to the police.

That night, Thompson received a message from his wife, saying, “I will not post bail.”

The FBI said agents later searched Lyon’s cellphone and found a video showing an office vandalized and Thompson shouting: “Woo! ‘Hey, Merica! This is our house!” The FBI said a surveillance video also captured Thompson leaving the Capitol office with a bottle of bourbon.

Thompson is charged with six counts: obstructing a joint session of Congress to authenticate the vote of the Electoral College, theft of government property, entering or living in a restricted building or grounds, disorderly conduct in a restricted building or grounds. or disruptive conduct, disorderly or disruptive conduct in the Capitol Building, and the parade, demonstration or picketing in the Capitol Building.

Lyon pleaded guilty to theft of government property and disorderly conduct. The maximum punishment in both cases is imprisonment for one year. Walton will sentence Lyon on June 3.