Judge Says Trump May Have Been Urging Supporters To ‘Do Something More’ Than Protest On Jan. 6: On Wednesday, a federal judge suggested that former President Donald Trump’s words on January 6, 2021, ordering a crowd to “fight like hell” before the Capitol attack may have given his followers the impression that he intended them to “do something more” than just protest.
U.S. District Judge John Bates ruled in the case of defendant Alexander Sheppard on January 6 that Sheppard could not use the “public authority” defense at trial since his attorney claimed Trump had given the go-ahead for his client’s behavior at the Capitol that day.
President Trump did not explicitly or implicitly say that entering the restricted area of the Capitol grounds and the Capitol building or obstructing the certification of the electoral vote was legal, so Bates, who was appointed to the court by President George W. Bush, rejected that argument. As a result, Bates determined that a public authority defense was ineffective.
“Nothing more than a call to march to the Capitol is made in these remarks; they make no mention of legality.
The context, however, suggests that he was inciting protesters to do more, possibly invade the Capitol building and prevent the certification, even though his exact words only describe traveling down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol “Bates penned.
Bates added in a footnote that his decision was consistent with the committee’s final report from January 6, which found that Trump acted “corruptly” by blocking the certification despite knowing it was against the law.
Since it was made public last week, his decision is the first to mention the report of the House panel.
According to Bates, saying things like “fight like hell” or other expressions used by the committee could “signal to demonstrators that entering the Capitol and halting the certification would be unconstitutional.”
As a result, Bates stated, “the conclusions reached here are congruent with the Select Committee’s findings – that even if demonstrators felt they were carrying out instructions, they were not misled about the legality of their acts and so fall outside the boundaries of any public authority argument.”
He continued by saying there was “absolutely no indication” that Trump had told the throng it would be okay to enter the Capitol.
“His rhetoric simply suggests that to stop the steal’ would be an act of ‘boldness,'” Bates wrote.
Other defendants have attempted to use the public authority defense, including Danny Rodriguez, the MAGA-hat-wearing rioter who shot Michael Fanon, a Washington, D.C. police officer at the time, with a stun gun on January 6.
Blaming Trump has not been a successful trial tactic. Dustin Thompson, who was found guilty on all charges, admitted to the jury that he thought he was “following presidential orders” and that he was looking for Trump’s “approval.” Thompson was found guilty of stealing a coat rack and a bottle of alcohol while storming the Capitol and received a three-year sentence in federal prison.
The Justice Department argued in a filing in the Sheppard case this month that it was “objectively unreasonable to conclude that President Trump or any other Executive Branch official could authorize citizens to engage in violent or assaultive conduct toward law enforcement officers and interfere with the Electoral College proceedings that were being conducted,” and that Sheppard was not given any advice by Trump in his speech that his actions were acceptable.