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Capitol Riot Defendant Blames Trump For 'Sinister' Jan. 6 Plot

Mentions of Donald Trump have been rare at the first trials for people charged with storming the U.S. Capitol On Jan. 6, 2021, but that has changed: The latest Capitol riot defendant to go on trial is blaming his actions on the former president and his false claims about a stolen election. Dustin Byron Thompson of Ohio, charged with stealing a coat rack from the Capitol, doesn’t deny that he joined the mob, the Associated Press reports. His lawyer vowed Tuesday to show that Trump abused his power to “authorize” the attack. Describing Trump as a man without scruples or integrity, defense attorney Samuel Shamansky said the former president engaged in a “sinister” plot to encourage Thompson and other supporters to “do his dirty work.”


Thompson’s lawyer sought subpoenas to call Trump and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani as witnesses. A judge rejected that request but ruled that jurors can hear recordings of speeches that Trump and Giuliani delivered at a rally before the riot. Thompson’s jury trial is the third among hundreds of Capitol riot prosecutions. The first two ended with jurors convicting both defendants on all counts with which they were charged. Prosecutors said Thompson can’t show that Trump or Giuliani had the authority to “empower” him to break the law. They also noted that video of the rally speeches “perfectly captures” the tone, delivery and context of the statements to the extent they are “marginally relevant” to proof of Thompson’s intent on Jan. 6. Thompson’s lawyer argued that Trump would testify that he and others “ orchestrated a carefully crafted plot to call into question the integrity of the 2020 presidential election.”

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