Dustin Thompson was the primary defendant tried for his function within the Jan. 6, 2021, assault to make use of a Trump-made-me-do-it protection in entrance of a jury. He was convicted on all six costs in opposition to him.
An Ohio man who claimed that Donald J. Trump was legally accountable for his resolution to interrupt into the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and make off with a bottle of bourbon and a coat rack was convicted on Thursday within the first trial related to the riot to function a protection that blamed the previous president.
The defendant, Dustin Thompson, an unemployed exterminator from Columbus, based mostly his whole trial protection on the argument that he had merely been following orders from Mr. Trump final yr when he walked as much as the Capitol after the previous president’s speech, broke into the constructing with a pro-Trump mob and stole the objects from the Senate parliamentarian’s workplace.
When Mr. Thompson testified in his personal protection on Wednesday, he tried to color a sympathetic portrait of himself, telling the jury how he had fallen down a “rabbit gap” of election misinformation beginning after he misplaced his job in the course of the pandemic in March 2020 and culminating in his presence in Washington for Mr. Trump’s speech close to the White Home on Jan. 6.
He testified that he believed that he had been answering the president’s name to go to the Capitol and “combat like hell” when he joined the throng that swarmed into the constructing.
“If the president’s providing you with virtually an order to do one thing,” he informed the jury, “I felt obligated to try this.”
However the jury in Federal District Court docket in Washington took lower than three hours to reject that declare and discover Mr. Thompson, 38, responsible of all six costs he was dealing with. Probably the most severe cost within the indictment accused Mr. Thompson of obstructing Congress’s obligation to certify the ultimate outcomes of the election, a depend that carries a most penalty of 20 years in jail.
Inside minutes of the decision being learn, Choose Reggie B. Walton, who oversaw the trial, ordered Mr. Thompson — who had been out on bail for months — to stay in jail earlier than his sentence was issued.
The choose mentioned he was offended by Mr. Thompson’s makes an attempt accountable Mr. Trump for his personal actions, calling the protection “disingenuous” and saying that he felt that the defendant had been neither “truthful” nor “honest.”
Although jurors had been apparently not swayed by the declare that Mr. Trump had been accountable for Mr. Thompson’s actions, Choose Walton instructed after the jury was dismissed that he believed the relentless flood of conspiracy theories and lies stoked by the previous president had helped give rise to the riot, and continued to pose a hazard.
“I believe our democracy is in hassle,” he mentioned, “as a result of sadly we’ve got charlatans like our former president who, in my opinion, doesn’t care about democracy however solely about energy.”
From the beginning, Mr. Thompson’s Trump-made-me-do-it protection was a little bit of a stretch. Related arguments had failed to achieve a lot traction with judges at a sequence of pretrial bail and sentencing hearings. Mr. Thompson’s lawyer, Samuel H. Shamansky, tried the gambit largely as a result of he didn’t have many different decisions.
Mr. Thompson had, in any case, been caught on video illegally getting into the Capitol and later posed for a selfie exterior the constructing standing beside the vintage wood coat rack. The federal government additionally had a duplicate of a video he took of himself, hooting and hollering contained in the looted parliamentarian’s workplace.
Mr. Shamansky’s technique boiled all the way down to the query of Mr. Thompson’s way of thinking on Jan. 6. He stipulated prematurely to almost each component of the costs that his consumer was dealing with and sought to argue to the jury that Mr. Thompson had not knowingly or corruptly damaged the regulation, however somewhat had been “so influenced — so used and abused” by Mr. Trump that he couldn’t be held accountable for his conduct.
However beneath cross-examination, Mr. Thompson was tripped up by a prosecutor, William Dreher, who obtained him to confess that he had identified it was illegal for him to be contained in the Capitol. Mr. Dreher additionally obtained Mr. Thompson to acknowledge that despite the fact that Mr. Trump might have inspired him — and 1000’s of others — to go to the Capitol, the previous president had not been at his aspect, providing directions, when he broke into the Capitol and stole authorities property.
Throughout his closing argument on Thursday, Mr. Dreher referred to as the makes an attempt to maneuver the main target away from Mr. Thompson and onto Mr. Trump a “sideshow.” Mr. Dreher informed the jurors that even when they didn’t like Mr. Trump — and even when they believed that he had inspired the group to riot — they might nonetheless reject Mr. Shamansky’s arguments and discover Mr. Thompson responsible.
“He desires you to suppose it’s a must to select between President Trump and his consumer,” Mr. Dreher mentioned. “You don’t have to decide on, as a result of this isn’t President Trump’s felony trial.”
The Justice Division has to this point received all three of its jury trials related to the Capitol assault. In early March, Man Wesley Reffitt, a member of a Texas militia, was convicted of leading a decisive advance against the police outside the building whereas carrying a pistol on his hip.
On Monday, a jury discovered a former Virginia police officer, Thomas Robertson, responsible of six counts, together with the obstruction of the official electoral depend by Congress.