210 defendants cite Trump’s call as motive for capitol attack

Uncover how 210 January 6 defendants attribute their actions to Trump's incitement, revealing deep links between his rhetoric and the Capitol attack.

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In a revealing insight into the January 6 Capitol insurrection, 210 defendants from across the United States have attributed their actions to the incitement of former President Donald Trump. This diverse group, hailing from 40 states and the District of Columbia, represents a cross-section of America, driven by what they perceived as a call to action from Trump. This analysis, conducted by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), delves into court filings and public statements, showcasing a wide belief among the defendants that they were merely following Trump’s directives.

The investigation highlights how Trump’s social media activity, particularly a tweet on December 19, 2020, that promised a “wild” protest, was interpreted as a rallying cry by his followers. Kelly Meggs, a member of the Oath Keepers from Florida, exemplified this reaction in a message stating, “He called us all to the Capitol and wants us to make it wild!!! Sir Yes Sir!!! Gentlemen we are heading to DC pack your shit!!” This sentiment was echoed across various platforms, with another defendant noting in a group chat that Trump’s call to patriots might lead to civil war if the electors did not vote as desired.

The report also sheds light on the involvement of hate groups like the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, whose members saw Trump’s messages as explicit commands. The preparation for violence was evident, with discussions of a “violent overthrow” and proposals for storming Congress shared among key figures. On the day of the insurrection, these groups came prepared for violence, with the Oath Keepers organizing an “arsenal” of weapons in nearby hotels.

Trump’s speech during the “Stop the Steal” rally on January 6 played a pivotal role in inciting the crowd, many of whom were prepared for violence. His off-script exhortation to “fight like hell” and march down to the Capitol was a clear catalyst for many attendees who later joined the attack. According to CREW’s findings, 120 out of the 210 charged individuals cited Trump’s speech as their motivation for storming the Capitol.

Personal accounts from defendants further emphasize Trump’s influence. Daniel Rodriguez, who attacked Metropolitan Police officer Michael Fanone, believed he was answering a call for help from Trump. Nicholas Languerand and Douglas Austin Jensen, both charged with assaulting police officers, also cited Trump’s tweets and rally speech as their reasons for participating in the insurrection.

The January 6 Select Committee’s report corroborates these findings, naming Trump as the “central cause” of the Capitol attack. The Committee detailed Trump’s extensive efforts to undermine the election results, culminating in the violent events of January 6. CREW’s analysis supports this conclusion, suggesting that Trump’s actions not only incited the insurrection but also disqualify him from holding public office again under the 14th Amendment.

In light of these revelations, the need for accountability is clear. As Stephen Ayres, one of the defendants, put it, “the President got everybody riled up and told everybody to head on down. So we basically were just following what he said.”

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