Lawyer for 'zip-tie guy' Eric Munchel said he raided the Capitol because Trump said the election was rigged

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Jacob Shamsian
·3 min read
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zip tie guy capitol eric munchel
Prosecutors identified these people in the Senate chamber during the Capitol riot as Eric Munchel and his mom, Lisa Eisenhart. Win McNamee/Getty Images
  • A lawyer for Eric Munchel, who stormed the Capitol, said he did it because Trump told him to.

  • Munchel became known after photos showed him carrying plastic handcuffs while in the building.

  • He is among the more than 240 people charged with crimes surrounding the January 6 riot.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

A lawyer for the "zip-tie guy" who stormed the Capitol said her client participated in the January 6 insurrection only because then-President Donald Trump said the election was rigged.

In a court filing Wednesday, the attorney, Sandra Roland, argued that Eric Munchel - who attended the riot with his mom, Lisa Eisenhart - should be released from jail ahead of his trial.

Roland cited the House of Representatives impeachment memo, pointing out that Trump invited people to Washington, DC, and said at the rally that they would "walk down to the Capitol" and "show strength."

"After President Trump lost the election, he and other government officials aligned with him said the presidency had been stolen from him by widespread election fraud, Trump invited Americans to come to Washington, DC, on January 6, 2021, for his 'Save America' rally," Roland wrote.

Prosecutors have sought to keep Munchel in jail while he awaits trial on charges related to the Capitol riot. Munchel became widely known as "zip-tie guy" as photos circulated of him holding plastic handcuffs while storming the building, prompting widespread speculation that he meant to take lawmakers hostage. Prosecutors later said he picked up the plastic handcuffs while in the Capitol building after they were apparently abandoned by police officers.

Munchel is one out of more than 240 people who prosecutors have accused of participating in the Capitol riot. Hundreds of people invaded the building following Trump's "Stop the Steal" rally, where he lied about the 2020 election being rigged against him and urged his supporters to "fight" as Congress met to certify the electoral victory of now-President Joe Biden.

Roland included the details about the rally in the new filing at the outset of a narrative about how Munchel, who's based in Nashville, came to Washington, DC, in the first place. She pointed out that he hadn't planned to be at the rally until a few days before, and that he hadn't come there as part of an organized effort, like the Proud Boys or militia groups who participated in the attack.

She also suggested Trump threw people like Munchel under the bus.

"The next day, President Trump changed course; he conceded that Joe Biden would be the next US President, denounced the entry into the Capitol building and violence, and urged a peaceful transition," she wrote.

Read more: Trump is plotting a campaign revenge tour targeting GOP defectors after Senate impeachment trial

A federal judge in Tennessee ordered that Munchel be released from jail ahead of the trial, but a judge in Washington, DC, where the case was transferred, said she wanted to review the decision before authorizing the release, according to Law & Crime.

Roland's arguments follow a pattern of mob participants blaming Trump for their own participation. Some criminal law experts believe the ongoing impeachment proceedings could improve their cases, as the defense attorneys could argue the rioters were simply following Trump's orders.

Expanded Coverage Module: capitol-siege-module

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