‘BLAME TRUMP’ DEFENSE IN CAPITOL RIOT WON’T SAVE DEFENDANTS
The “Trump-made-me-do-it” defense is already looking like a longshot, just as the “Befehl is Befehl” defense invoked by Adolf Eichmann in the Nuremberg trials was junked by military tribunals, which promptly hanged those who obeyed Hitler’s “superior orders.”
Facing damning evidence in the deadly Capitol siege last month — including social media posts flaunting their actions — rioters are arguing in court they were following then-President Donald Trump’s instructions on Jan. 6.
But the legal strategy has already been shot down by at least one judge and experts believe the argument is not likely to get anyone off the hook for the insurrection where five people died, including a police officer, Michael Kunzelman and Alanna Durkin Richer reported for the Associated Press (AP) early on February 28, 2021.
"This purported defense, if recognized, would undermine the rule of law because then, just like a king or a dictator, the president could dictate what’s illegal and what isn’t in this country,” US District Judge Beryl Howell said recently in ordering the pretrial detention of William Chrestman, a suspected member of the Kansas City-area chapter of the Proud Boys. “And that is not how we operate here.”
While the legal bar is high for prosecuting Trump in the Capitol siege, the former president is already facing a lawsuit from Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson that accuses him of conspiring with extremist groups to prevent Congress from certifying the election results. And more lawsuits could come.
Meanwhile, a lawyer for Dominic Pezzola, another suspected Proud Boy, said he “acted out of the delusional belief that he was a ‘patriot’ protecting his country.” Defense attorney Jonathan Zucker described Pezzola as “one of millions of Americans who were misled by the President’s deception.”
He added: “Many of those who heeded his call will be spending substantial portions if not the remainder of their lives in prison as a consequence. Meanwhile, Donald Trump resumes his life of luxury and privilege.”