Lawyer for Capitol riot suspect blames Fox News, Trump

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A Capitol riot suspect was persuaded to storm the building on Jan. 6 after spending hours watching Fox News and listening to former President Donald Trump's election fraud lies, his lawyer said.

Anthony Antonio, 27, of Delaware, was arrested last month on five federal charges including knowingly entering or remaining on restricted grounds without lawful authority; violent entry and disorderly conduct; impeding law enforcement during civil disorder; disrupting Congress; and damaging government property.

According to the Huffington Post, Joseph Hurley, a Delaware-based lawyer, blamed Antonio's behavior on him watching Fox News too much.

“He became hooked with what I call ‘Foxitus’ or ‘Foxmania’ and became interested in the political aspect and started believing what was being fed to him," Hurley said Thursday during a virtual hearing on Zoom, the outlet reported.

A spokesperson for Fox News did not immediately return a request for comment.

Image: Anthony Antonio at the Capitol on Jan. 6. (FBI)
Image: Anthony Antonio at the Capitol on Jan. 6. (FBI)

Hurley told NBC News in a phone interview Friday that Antonio was very involved in his church and had "absolutely no political interest whatsoever."

That changed when Antonio lost his job at the start of the pandemic. His lawyer said that Antonio would spend hours in a house he shared with three other people who watched Fox News.

"By that point in his life he had never been acquainted with Fox. He knew very little about Trump," Hurley said. "He had nothing to do but sit with these guys during the day and watch Fox; six hours, eight hours a day. He became infected with the misinformation provided by them and he became an ally of this person Trump."

Hurley said that because Antonio is patriotic, he believed that supporting Trump "was doing the patriotic thing." So when the former president told his supporters to swarm the Capitol, Antonio made the 13-hour drive from Chicago, where he was living at the time, to D.C.

According to Hurley, Antonio thought the protest would be fairly peaceful but wore a shield under his coat "because he had some misgivings."

A federal affidavit states that Antonio was dressed in a black tactical bulletproof vest with a Three Percenter patch on it. He was seen at the Lower West Terrace Entrance of the Capitol building, which "saw a tremendous amount of violent criminal activity," the affidavit states.

Federal authorities said Antonio was seen on video squirting water and throwing a water bottle in the direction of a Metropolitan Police Officer as he was dragged down a set of stairs. Body camera footage also showed him shouting at officers, "You want war? We got war. 1776 all over again.”

At one point during the riot, Antonio used a bullhorn to tell the crowd that they were not leaving "until we get our way."

"This is a peaceful protest now. This is a peaceful protest now and always has been. Remember this is our Capitol; this is our house, these are our steps. If we have to sit here all night, we will," he said, according to the affidavit.

Antonio later entered the Capitol building through a broken window, federal authorities said. Video showed him throwing a piece of broken furniture, according to the affidavit.

Antonio told FBI agents that he came to D.C. because Trump "told him to do so."

Hurley said that his client was trying to "calm" the crowd when he addressed them with the bullhorn and threw a water bottle at a person dragging the officer down the steps. Antonio left after seeing people tear up a room inside the Capitol, Hurley said.

He went on to say that Antonio is "disappointed" and "angry at Trump for lying to him."