“This is not President Trump’s criminal trial”

“He wants you to think you have to choose between President Trump and his client, Mr. Thompson, doesn’t he? That you can’t find out that one of them committed a crime that day or that one of them is worse than the other,” Dreher continued. “Ladies and gentlemen, you don’t have to choose.”

Dreher’s final argument underscored a tightrope for the Justice Department as it continues to investigate Trump’s orbit numbers for their role in motivating and fueling the conditions that led to the January 6 mob attack on the Capitol. A slew of defendants have argued in court papers that they were inspired by Trump that day, interpreting his call to ‘fight like hell’ against the 2020 election results as an order to take storming the Capitol.

The Jan. 6 congressional select committee pointed to those arguments — along with Trump’s long silence during the riot — as evidence that Trump bears a unique, possibly criminal, responsibility for the violence that erupted that day.

Dreher did not contradict that account but urged jurors to set it aside. The jury is due to begin deliberating Thursday afternoon.

“This is not President Trump’s criminal trial,” he said. “It is not for you to decide whether anyone other than the accused should be prosecuted for any of the crimes charged. The fact that another person may also be guilty is no defense to a criminal charge. The question of the possible guilt of others should not enter into your thinking.

In Thompson’s closing argument, attorney Samuel Shamansky called on the jury to consider “human nature.” He reminded them that Thompson had spent nearly a year out of work before Jan. 6, isolated amid the pandemic and consuming a firehose of pro-Trump misinformation and propaganda.

Shamansky did not dispute the gist of the factual case presented by prosecutors: Thompson entered the Capitol after Trump’s speech, joined a mob to trash the Senate congressman’s office and stole a coat rack and a bottle of liquor during the Troubles. He stood there as rioters assaulted police in a Capitol tunnel and ran away from officers that night when they approached him to ask about the coat rack.

But Shamansky urged the jury to consider the “mental” impact Trump’s words have had over time.

“He consumed these lies and misinformation,” Shamansky said, calling Trump “an evil, sinister man who would stop at nothing to get his way on Jan. 6.” Shamansky described Thompson as a “pawn” in Trump’s “unhealthy game” to stay in power.

“In your hearts, in your heads,” Shamansky told the jury, “do the right thing.”

The arguments capped off a trial in which there was unusually broad agreement between prosecutors and defense attorneys about the defendant’s conduct. Thompson has spoken out to say he was in the grip of Trump when he took the actions he took, but admitted knowing they were wrong at the time.

Thompson’s wife also testified that she saw her husband become increasingly radicalized during Trump’s presidency, and that it became particularly acute when he became unemployed in March 2020.


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