A defendant accused of attacking the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, testified Wednesday that he believed he was “following presidential orders” from President Donald Trump when he stormed the building and stole alcohol and a coat hanger during the deadly riot.
Dustin Byron Thompson, 38, has not denied the allegations, including that he twice raided the Senate lawmaker’s office and stole a bottle of bourbon and a coat hanger. He testified during the trial that he made the trip from his home in Columbus, Ohio, to Washington, D.C., and later entered the Capitol, hoping to win “respect, his approval” from Trump.
“Except I was ordered by the president to go to the Capitol, I don’t know what I was thinking,” Thompson told the jury, according to CNN. “I was caught right now.”
Thompson was among the first defendants on Jan. 6 to argue with the jury that Trump was ultimately to blame for the mob that stormed the Capitol. More than 15 months later, Thompson said he was “deeply ashamed” of his actions, believing he had been misled by Trump’s “strange” and false allegations of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election.
Although Trump has denied responsibility for the Jan. 6 uprising, Thompson, who attended the pre-riot Stop the Steal rally, said Trump called on his supporters to march to the Capitol and fight “like hell” against the confirmation. of Joe Biden as president.
“If the president almost gave you an order to do something, I felt obligated to do it,” Thompson said, according to NBC News.
Thompson faces seven criminal charges, including obstructing official proceedings and aiding and abetting, stealing state property, and entering and staying in a building or restricted area. He pleaded not guilty to all but one of the charges, according to the justice ministry. Thompson, who was arrested, charged and charged last year, remains on bail.
Neither Trump spokesman Taylor Budovich nor Samuel Shamansky, Thompson’s lawyer, immediately responded to requests for comment early Thursday.
Thompson’s testimony comes at a time when President Biden has authorized the National Archives and Records Administration to hand over a new tranche of Trump documents to the White House to a House committee investigating the attack on the Capitol. Earlier, Trump – and unsuccessfully – claimed the privilege of the executive over a series of White House documents, including daily presidential diaries, schedules, draft speeches, notes and correspondence on the events of January 6.
Biden’s White House relinquishes executive privilege for more Trump records
MP Jamie Ruskin (D-Md.), Who is a member of the House of Representatives committee investigating the January 6 uprising, said in an interview with Post Politics Now on Wednesday that the House’s elected committee is planning public hearings in May and June. Ruskin said the commission would issue a report that would be “abundant in exposing crimes for which they have not yet been charged”.
Thompson’s trial is the third of nearly 800 Capitol rebels charged in connection with the attack, according to the Associated Press. The first two trials of jurors ended with the conviction of the two defendants on all charges against them. Earlier this month, a federal judge found that Matthew Martin, a former contract engineer with the Santa Fe Energy Department in New York, was not guilty of violating borders and hooliganism, saying the defendant plausibly claimed police officers were he was admitted to the Capitol. The acquittal was the first defeat of the Ministry of Justice in a lawsuit for violating the Capitol.
U.S. judge acquits defendant on January 6, saying she waved at police
Thompson, who also worked as a fighter and pawnbroker after graduating from Ohio State University in 2008, was unemployed at the start of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020, he said. At a time when he was “isolated” and “stuck at home”, Thompson told the jury that he had “entered the rabbit hole on the Internet” and embarked on conspiracy theories.
While Biden led Trump, Thompson said he “did not think it was possible” for the Democrat to defeat the president, echoing Trump’s false and debunked claim that the election was rigged, according to a federal complaint.
“Dustin spent a lot of time online,” Sarah Thompson, his wife, said Wednesday, according to NBC. She testified that she was a Democrat who voted for Biden, as well as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former President Barack Obama.
“He was very angry about the election results,” she told her husband. “He believed the election had been stolen.
After listening to all the speakers at the Stop the Steal rally, Dustin Thompson joined the hundreds in storming the Capitol.
“Uuuuu! “Merika, hey!” He shouted, according to the video. “This is our house!”
At around 2:51 p.m. that day, security footage showed Thompson carrying a bottle of bourbon he found in the Senate MP’s office, according to the complaint. More than 30 minutes later, a picture was taken of a grinning Thompson holding a wooden and bronze coat hanger made from inside the Capitol, authorities said.
He was arrested on January 25, 2021, after FBI agents were able to match Thompson’s description with his photographs from the Ohio Department of Motor Vehicles.
Since his trial began this week, Thompson’s lawyer, Shamansky, has claimed that Trump was involved in a “sinister” conspiracy to encourage Thompson and other “vulnerable” supporters to storm the Capitol. A judge rejected a request by the defense attorney’s summons to call Trump and Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, as witnesses in the Thompson trial.
“It is Donald Trump himself who is vomiting lies and using his position to resolve this attack,” Shamansky said in an introductory statement Tuesday, according to the AP.
But Assistant Attorney General William Kennell Dreher says Thompson, who is married and has a university degree, is an adult capable of making his own decisions.
“You’re not a child, are you?” he asked Thompson, CNN reported. The defendant replied that he was not.
However, Thompson acknowledged that he must make his own decisions and not be convinced by Trump’s rhetoric and false claims.
“I can’t let other people tell me what to do,” he told NBC. “Even if they are president.”