Updated: Mar 4
On January 6, defeated President Donald Trump encouraged thousands of his supporters gathered at the White House to go to the U.S. Capitol and convince lawmakers to overturn Joe Biden's election. They went, but arrest records show that Trump did not exactly send his best and brightest to do his dirty work on that January day. (See below.)
Some 300 have since been arrested as a result of the attempted insurrection that resulted in five deaths and then, later, the suicide of two Capitol Hill police officers. They were people who believed Trump's false claims that the election was stolen from him and that it was their duty to fight, as he encouraged them to do.
They were duped by Trump and now some apparently are planning a return visit sometime between tomorrow and Saturday, when they believe Trump will magically return to power. So Capitol Hill is still an armed camp, with thousands of National Guard troops deployed there and a razor wire topped fence surrounding the Capitol grounds. And, the U.S. House of Representatives is shutting down for the day because of the threat.
It doesn't take a genius to figure out that the supporters of QAnon and various militia groups are idiots for believing such a fantasy. Nevertheless, the threat has been deemed real by the Capitol Police and the FBI and so precautions are being taken.
All of this is part of the increased threat of domestic terrorism which is now "metastasizing" across the nation, according to Senate testimony by FBI Director Christopher A. Wray, who told senators yesterday that the number of investigations and arrests continues to increase.
In his testimony, Wray said the January 6 attack has been "an inspiration to a number of terrorist extremists," both foreign and domestic, adding that Republican claims that antifa was involved in the attack were false.
The 'Trump-Made-Me-Do-It' Defense
Now, many of those who were arrested on charges stemming from the attack are trying to use as a defense that they were simply doing what Trump told them to do -- the "Trump-made-me-do-it" defense, as reported by the Associated Press. However, that's not going to fly, if one judge's decision is any indication.
Said U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell, “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. And that is not how we operate here.”
Judge Howell then ordered pretrial detention of William Chrestman, a suspected member of the Kansas City-area chapter of the Proud Boys. Chrestman’s attorneys claimed Trump gave the mob “explicit permission and encouragement” to attack, thus providing those who obeyed him with “a viable defense against criminal liability.”
“It is an astounding thing to imagine storming the United States Capitol with sticks and flags and bear spray, arrayed against armed and highly trained law enforcement. Only someone who thought they had an official endorsement would even attempt such a thing. And a Proud Boy who had been paying attention would very much believe he did,” Chrestman’s lawyers wrote.
The 13 Idiots
Clearly, many of those involved in the insurrection had failed their high school civics courses because they somehow believed that the election results could be overturned by Vice President Pence, as Trump had requested, or by Congress. In fact, The Washington Post today cited the cases of the "13 not so greatest hits from the Capitol riot arrest records" in an article by @AaronBlake. Here's his summary:
13. Kevin Loftus: Allegedly posted a selfie in the Capitol with the caption, “One of 700 inside,” adding, “That’s right folks some of us are in it to win it.” He later posted to Facebook, upon seeing himself pictured among the suspects, “I am wanted by the FBI for illegal entry”, pointing to his photo.
12. Troy Faulkner: Allegedly wore a jacket from his painting company that included a phone number. Hello!
11. Derrick Evans: The now-former West Virginia state lawmaker allegedly live-streamed himself entering the Capitol and identified himself: “We’re in! Derrick Evans is in the Capitol!”
10. Joshua Lollar: Allegedly posted to Facebook after the Capitol riot saying, “Yeah, I’m good. Just got gassed and fought with cops that I never thought would happen.” Someone believed to be his sister posted, “We cleaned off the post of you going into and inside the capital since they plan to prosecute everyone that was in there.” A minute later, she added, “You need to clean off your page.”
9. Guy Reffitt: Allegedly told his family that he had been in the Capitol and had brought his gun with him. His adult son told investigators that his father later began to try covering his tracks, including deleting footage from his GoPro, and issued threats to his family if they turned him in. Among the charges in his indictment is witness tampering.
8. William Robert Norwood III: Allegedly dressed like antifa to avoid arrest and told friends and family he had gotten away with it before being arrested. “I’ll look just like ANTIFA,” he said. “I’ll get away with anything.” Later, he wrote, “It worked. I got away with things that others were shot or arrested for.”
7. Kevin Lyons: Allegedly briefly posted an Instagram of himself in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) office saying, “WHOSE HOUSE?!?!? OUR HOUSE!!” He later told the FBI he had a dream about being in the Capitol that day, before they showed him the Instagram. “Wow, you’re pretty good. That was only up for an hour,” he said, according to court documents. He later emailed video of his time there, saying, “Hello Nice FBI Lady, Here are the links to the videos.”
6. Tam Dinh Pham: Allegedly left photos of himself in the Capitol in the deleted photos section of his phone.
5. Jenna Ryan: Allegedly posted multiple videos from inside the Capitol promoting her real estate business, including saying, “You guys, can you believe this? I’m not messing around. When I come to sell your house, this is what I’ll do. I’ll … sell your house.”
4. Justin Stoll: Allegedly responded to someone who criticized his videos from inside the Capitol a day afterward by issuing threats, including, “If you ever in your … existence did something to jeopardize taking me away from my family, you will absolutely meet your maker. … You can play that for the [prosecutor] in court, I don’t care.” He’s now charged with making threats and witness tampering.
3. Richard Michetti allegedly texted with his ex-girlfriend about being in the Capitol. At one point, he told her she was a “moron” if she didn’t understand the election was stolen. She later turned him in.
2. Joshua Matthew Black: Allegedly admitted in a video posted on YouTube — two days after the siege, when others were covering their tracks — that he entered the Capitol with a knife: “We just wanted to get inside the building, I wanted to get inside the building so I could plead the blood of Jesus over it. That was my goal.”
1. Thomas Fee: Allegedly sent a selfie from the Capitol to his girlfriend’s brother, who had asked if he was in Washington after seeing a social media post. The brother was a federal agent.