Ohio Man Who Claimed He Was Following Trump's Orders in Jan. 6 Capitol Riots Found Guilty on All Counts
Dustin Thompson said he was following Trump's orders when he stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6.
A Capitol rioter who claimed he was "following presidential orders" from Donald Trump has been convicted on all counts for storming the nation's seat of power.
Dustin Thompson, an exterminator from Ohio, was found guilty Thursday in a Washington, D.C. federal court on one felony charge of obstructing an official proceeding and five misdemeanors, including theft of government property, disorderly conduct, and entering and remaining in a restricted building.
“Besides being ordered by the president to go to the Capitol, I don’t know what I was thinking,” Thompson told the jury. “I was caught up in the moment.”
Thompson, 38, did not dispute the charges against him, specifically that he twice broke into the Senate parliamentarian’s office and stole a bottle of Bourbon and a coat rack. Testifying in his own defense, Thompson told the court he drove from his home in Columbus to Washington and attended Trump's "Stop the Steal" rally. He then stormed the Capitol trying to gain Trump’s “respect, his approval," he said.
Thompson said he was acting at then-President Trump's behest, after hearing Trump tell the crowd to march to the Capitol and "fight like hell."
Defense attorney Shamuel Shamansky played in court the former president's entire speech from that day. He called the the riot "shameless" and likened Trump to a "gangster."
"You had, frankly, a gangster who was in power," Shamansky told jurors. "The vulnerable are seduced by the strong," he said. "That's what happened."
Federal prosecutors dismissed the defense argument, calling it "a side show."
Assistant U.S. Attorney William Dreher said Thompson alone was responsible for his actions. "President Trump did not hold his hand as he walked down to the Capitol to loot and defile the Senate parliamentarian's office," the prosecutor said.
Thompson testified he was laid off from his job as the coronavirus pandemic took hold. He felt “isolated” and “stuck at home,” he said, and eventually “fell down the rabbit hole” into believing conspiracy theories, including Trump's false claims that the 2020 presidential election had been stolen and that Trump was the winner.
He is now “deeply ashamed” of participating in the riots, he said. He said he was misled by “outlandish” claims of widespread voter fraud.
Thompson is third federal defendant to be convicted by a jury of all charges in connection with the Capitol violence. His argument that Trump was responsible for the actions of rioters has been voiced by other suspects, and his trial was seen as a major test of that defense.
More than 700 people have been federally charged since the Jan. 6, 2021 uprising.
Senior U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton ordered Thompson to be held without bail pending his July 20 sentencing hearing.
“His conduct, in my view, was reprehensible,” the judge said after the verdict was read. “In my view, I don’t think he was candid when he testified.
“Whether he does time now or does time later, he’s got to do time," Walton continued. "There’s a thing my mother said, ‘You make your bed, you’ve got to lie in it.’”
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