House Democrats used the words of the Capitol rioters to emphasize former President Donald Trump’s role in the Jan. 6 attack in an attempt to bolster their impeachment case against him.
On Thursday, the third day of the Senate trial, Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., a member of the House impeachment team, pointed to statements made by some of the alleged rioters and their attorneys to argue that Trump incited the attack by calling on his supporters to march down to the Capitol at a rally before the incident.
“More and more insurrectionists are admitting that they came at Trump’s direction,” DeGette said, pointing to statements made by defendants Riley June Williams and Dominic Pezzola through their attorneys, and social media posts allegedly written by Samuel Fisher and Troy Smocks.
“Today president Trump told us to fight like hell,” Smocks posted on Parler on Jan. 6, according to a criminal complaint cited in a BuzzFeed story, which DeGette used in her presentation. “[Trump] said that our cause was a matter of national security.”
An attorney for Pezzola, Michael Scibetta, told Reuters that “the boss of the country said, ‘People of the country, come on down, let people know what you think. The logical thinking was, ‘He invited us down.’”
BuzzFeed reported that Fisher allegedly wrote this on his personal website on Jan. 6: “Trump just needs to fire the bat signal...deputize patriots...and then the pain comes.”
DeGette also played footage from the attack in which a person shouts, “We’re invited here. We were invited. We were invited by the president of the United States.”
“Donald Trump told these insurrectionists to come to the Capitol and ‘stop the steal,’” DeGette said.
As federal authorities pursue criminal charges against the Capitol rioters, some defendants are now shifting blame to Trump, telling authorities and the media that they went to the Capitol only because the president told them to.
Albert Watkins, a St. Louis-based attorney who is representing Jacob Chansley, the shirtless, horned-helmet-wearing man known as the “QAnon shaman,” told Yahoo News last month that his client, among others, heeded the call of the president to save the country.
“They listened to [Trump] and his cohorts speak to them in a fashion that is akin to a high school football coach on a Friday evening talking to his team and getting them all hyped up in the locker room before he runs out to the football field with them,” Watkins said.
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