Apr 14, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Jan. 6 defendant who claimed he breached Capitol as Trump's "pawn" found guilty

Pro-Trump protesters gather in front of the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC.

Pro-Trump protesters gather in front of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington, D.C. Photo: Brent Stirton/Getty Images

A Jan. 6 rioter was found guilty on all charges Thursday after his lawyers argued he was not responsible for his actions because former President Trump ordered him to participate in the breach, CNN reports.

Why it matters: Defendant Dustin Thompson was among the first Capitol riot defendants to argue that Trump is ultimately to blame for the large mob that breached the Capitol.

  • He faced six charges, per CNN: Obstructing an official proceeding, theft of government property, illegally entering the Capitol, illegally protesting in the Capitol, and two counts of disorderly conduct.

Driving the news: Thompson has said he is "deeply ashamed” of his actions during the riot, which included allegedly breaking into the Senate parliamentarian’s office twice and stealing a bottle of bourbon and a coat rack, per the Washington Post.

  • Thompson told the jury that he had been following "presidential orders” by Trump to go to the Capitol. He said he did so to "do something to gain his respect, his approval," per CNN.
  • Thompson's attorney Samuel Shamansky argued that Thompson was merely a "pawn" in the former president's “sick game” to remain in power," Politico reports.

What they're saying: “Defense counsel wants you to focus so much on what President Trump said on the morning January 6. He wants you to forget what his client did on the afternoon of Jan. 6,” Assistant U.S. Attorney William Dreher told the jury, per Politico.

  • “This is not President Trump’s criminal trial,” he added. “It is not up to you to decide whether anyone other than the defendant should be prosecuted for any of the crimes charged."
  • "The fact that another person may also be guilty is no defense of a criminal charge," he said.

Editor's note: This post was updated to reflect that Dustin Thompson was found guilty on all charges.

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