“Trump made me do it.” That’s basically what many of those who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 and subsequently have been arrested and charged with crimes are saying to explain their participation in the deadly insurrection. Some have been freed on bond pending their trials, but a number of defendants remained locked up.
Increasingly, judges are citing the twice-impeached former president’s continuing public comments about the election being stolen from him as the reason for denying bail in several cases. Judge Amy Berman Jackson, in recently denying bail to a Colorado man, wrote, “The steady drumbeat that inspired the defendant to take up arms has not faded away; six months later, the canard that the election was stolen is being repeated daily on major news outlets and from the corridors of power in state and federal government, not to mention the nearly-daily fulminations of the former president.”
The man is accused of driving to Washington with two firearms and thousands of rounds of ammunition after threatening to kill House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D).
Even though Trump has been kicked off of social media, apparently for good, and ended his failed blog experiment, he still continues to rant in public about the election “big lie.” Federal judges have cited Trump’s recent comments in declaring several defendants charged with violent crimes during the riot a continuing danger to society and public safety.
“Unfortunately,” said Judge Amit Mehta in denying bail to a man accused of throwing a hatchet and a desk during the riot, the “political dynamics that gave way to January 6th have not faded.”
When she ruled that a Trump supporter and felon must remain in jail in Michigan pending trial, Jackson highlighted a message from the man in which he said he was in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 6 because “Trump is the only big shot I trust right now.” The man is charged with obstructing a congressional proceeding and related crimes, and his “promise to take action in the future cannot be dismissed as an unlikely occurrence given that his singular source of information . . . continues to propagate the lie that inspired the attack on a near daily basis,” Jackson wrote.
“The Court is not convinced that dissatisfaction and concern about the legitimacy of the election results has dissipated for all Americans,” Judge Emmet G. Sullivan wrote in an April 20 ruling denying bond for a man accused of beating a police officer with a crutch and dragging him into the crowd. “Former President Donald J. Trump continues to make forceful public comments about the ‘stolen election,’ chastising individuals who did not reject the supposedly illegitimate results that put the current administration in place.”
Joseph Hurley, who represents a Capitol defendant out on bond, said it is fair for judges to weigh Trump’s words in detention decisions. He said Anthony Antonio, his client, is “no longer infected” by belief in the former president. Hurley, he said, now considers Trump “a liar.” Hurley said that when “Trump keeps beating that drum, he keeps firing them up . . . the burden is on them to convince the judge” that they aren’t listening any more.