A federal judge reportedly rebuked former President Trump’s election fraud falsehoods while delivering the verdict in the trial of a Jan. 6 insurrectionist who claimed he was following “presidential orders” when storming the Capitol and endangering lawmakers’ lives.
Dustin Thompson, a 38-year-old exterminator from Ohio, was convicted on all six charges he faced: obstructing an official proceeding, theft of government property, illegally entering the Capitol, illegally protesting in the Capitol, and two counts of disorderly conduct in the Capitol.
Following the verdict, federal Judge Reggie Walton took aim at Trump for his Big Lie efforts to subvert the 2020 presidential election results.
“I think our democracy is in trouble because, unfortunately, we have charlatans like our former president who doesn’t, in my view, really care about democracy but only about power,” Walton said, according to Politico and CNN.
During the trial, Thompson’s lawyer reportedly characterized Trump as an “evil and sinister man” when speaking to jurors, according to CNN. Thompson’s lawyer argued Trump incited the insurrection with his speech at the “Stop the Steal” rally that preceded the attack, in which Trump told his supporters to “fight like hell” to overturn the election results.
Thompson reportedly testified that he believed he was following Trump’s “orders” at the time.
“Besides being ordered by the President to go to the Capitol, I don’t know what I was thinking,” Thompson told the jury, according to CNN. “I was caught up in the moment.”
The verdict follows the Jan. 6 Select Committee’s court filing last month that alleged that the former president and his allies “engaged in a criminal conspiracy to defraud the United States.” Lawyers for the committee wrote that Trump and key allies engaged in criminal acts in trying to pressure former Vice President Pence to overturn the election results.
Late last month, it was reported that Justice Department investigators are expanding the scope of their investigation into the events of Jan. 6 beyond Capitol insurrectionists. Investigators have reportedly began turning their focus to the planning of the “Stop the Steal” rally at the Ellipse that occurred hours before a mob of Trump supporters breached the Capitol, according to the Washington Post and the New York Times.