Right now, House impeachment managers are making a case for why ex-President Donald Trump should be held accountable for inciting the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.
Of course, Trump and Trump loyalists are standing firm on the argument that Trump had nothing to do with instigating the coup de-wypipo despite the fact that he spent two months filling his followers’ heads with “stop the steal” propaganda and encouraged them to go to the Capitol and “fight like hell” just before his supporters, well, went to the Capitol and fought like hell. But if Trump truly had nothing to do with why rioters stormed the Capitol that day, then somebody should probably tell the rioters that.
Politico reports that Dominic Pezzola, a member of the Proud Boys who was arrested and charged for his participation in the “honk if you’re a honky” attack on the Capitol, told a federal court Wednesday that he was hoodwinked, bamboozled and lead astray by Trump’s “deception” and that he “acted out of the delusional belief” that he was doing his patriotic duty by stopping the steal of a non-stolen presidential election.
Dominic Pezzola, who was indicted last month and charged with conspiracy, urged a federal court to grant his release pending trial, emphasizing that his involvement in the Proud Boys was recent and minimal and that he has no other criminal history. But the most notable part of Pezzola’s 15-page motion for leniency was his thorough repudiation of Trump.
“[D]efendant acted out of the delusional belief that he was a ‘patriot’ protecting his country ... He was responding to the entreaties of the-then commander in chief, President Trump,” Pezzola’s lawyer argued in the filing. “The President maintained that the election had been stolen and it was the duty of loyal citizens to ‘stop the steal.’ Admittedly there was no rational basis for the claim, but it is apparent defendant was one of millions of Americans who were misled by the President’s deception.”
Pezzola’s attorney went on to point out that “many of those who heeded [Trump’s] call will be spending substantial portions if not the remainder of their lives in prison as a consequence. Meanwhile, Donald Trump resumes his life of luxury and privilege.”
Pezzola isn’t the first insurrectionist to claim Trump made him do it. Last month, The Root reported that the attorney for Jacob “QAnon Shaman” Chansley said that Chansley and other clients of his were salty about being “duped” by the president, who then left office without granting them a pardon like he did for so many other undeserving criminals.
I’m going to be honest: As much as I absolutely do believe that Trump is responsible for inciting the riot and am itching to see him become the first president to be convicted for impeachment, the people who stormed the Capitol on Jan 6. were fucking adults. They spent four years believing Trump’s obvious lies because he was saying what they wanted to be true. They applauded his bigotry because they are also bigots. They believed the election was stolen without evidence, not because the narrative made sense, but because they wanted their four more years. And while their cult leader’s words might have been the match that lit the powder keg, they’re still responsible for their conscious decisions to be the flames.
The fact that somebody actually needs to ask them, “If Trump told you to jump off of a bridge, would you do it?” isn’t an excuse for their behavior, and it doesn’t mean they deserve any kind of leniency.