Criminal Justice

Judges aren't persuaded by Capitol rioters’ claims that Trump asked them to do it

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U.S. Capitol building

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Judges are rejecting claims of U.S. Capitol rioters that they should be released before trial because they were following the direction of former President Donald Trump.

Among the judges who have rejected the Trump-made-me-do-it argument is U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth of the District of Columbia, BuzzFeed News reports.

“If defendant truly believes that the only reason he participated in an assault on the U.S. Capitol was to comply with President Trump’s orders, this shows defendant’s inability (or refusal) to exercise his independent judgment and conform his behavior to the law,” Lamberth wrote in the case of “QAnon shaman” Jacob Chansley. “These are not the qualities of a person who can be trusted on conditional release.”

Even when judges agreed to release accused rioters, they cited reasons other than incitement by Trump, according to BuzzFeed News.

Prosecutors are seeking to detain only some of the rioters—mostly those accused of attacking police, destroying property, planning violence or acting as a leader, according to BuzzFeed News. Most people facing charges have been released. Although the numbers vary each day, about 16% of defendants remain jailed.

According to BuzzFeed News, prosecutors dropped or lost several detention requests after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that defendants couldn’t be detained unless they posed a specific future threat.

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