MAGA mob turns on Trump: More than a dozen capitol rioters say ex-president directed them to violence

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Graig Graziosi
·3 min read
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 (Richard Hall)
(Richard Hall)

As Donald Trump faces his second impeachment trial over claims he incited the Capitol riot, more than a dozen of his supporters who participated in the attack have blamed him for directing them to do so.

ABC News reported that out of the 200 accused rioters facing federal charges, at least 15 have stated that they felt they were following Mr Trump's direction.

The sizeable number of protesters who say they were influenced by Mr Trump to attack the Capitol will almost certainly be used by impeachment prosecutors to support their case that the president was the one responsible for inciting the insurrection.

The man who threatened to kill Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez the day of the attack, Garrett Miller, issued a statement through his lawyer saying that he went to the Capitol believing he was following the former president's directions.

Follow live: Trump impeachment news and updates as trial set to begin

"I believed I was following the instructions of former President Trump," he said. "I also left Washington and started back to Texas immediately after President Trump asked us to go home."

Mr Miller apologised for threatening to kill Ms Ocasio-Cortez.

"While I never intended to harm Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez nor harm any members of the Capitol police force, I recognize that my social media posts were completely inappropriate," he said. "They were made at a time when Donald Trump had me believing that an American election was stolen. I want to publicly apologize to Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez and the Capitol police officers."

Mr Miller faces five charges, including making threats, disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds and violent entry.

Jacob Chansley, the "QAnon Shaman," also confirmed he felt he was following the former president's orders.

The Arizona native who wore bull horns and furs to the attack was filmed in the immediate aftermath of the attack and said he was leaving because Mr Trump asked them to leave.

After he was arrested, he pleaded with Mr Trump to offer him a presidential pardon, but he was ignored. He then flipped on Mr Trump, and claimed he had been led to believe that going into the Capitol was what the president wanted. According to his lawyers, Mr Chansley is willing to testify to that point.

If Mr Trump were to be convicted in the Senate, it could help bolster the legal defenses of the rioters who claim they were there on his behalf. "If I'm a defendant's lawyer, I want to sit back and watch the impeachment proceedings unfold," Randy Zelin, an adjunct professor at Cornell Law School and criminal defense attorney at Wilk Auslander LLP, told Business Insider. "Because that's going to be the best evidence that I could possibly muster for a motion to dismiss my client's case."

The evidence used by the impeachment prosecutors to pin the insurrection on Mr Trump may be used by the defense attorneys representing Capitol rioters to prove their clients had been misled.

However, conviction in the Senate seems unlikely; a majority of Republicans Senators voted to support Sen. Rand Paul's claim that the entire impeachment was unconstitutional. They argue that a person cannot be impeached once they have left office. Senate Democrats, many constitutional scholars and at least five Republican Senators disagreed with that interpretation.

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