The longer the federal hearings for indicted Jan. 6 rioters continue, the clearer it becomes that former President Trump bear a substantial amount of blame for the attack on the Capitol.
During a Wednesday sentencing hearing for Jan. 6 defendant Russell Peterson, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson said outright that Trump and his allies “deliberately stoked the flames of fear and discontent and explicitly encouraged [attendees] to go to the Capitol and fight for one reason and one reason only: to make sure the certification of the election didn’t happen.”
A rioter said as much himself in March while confessing to tasering a police officer at the Capitol. “Trump called us. Trump called us to D.C.” Rodriguez told investigators. “If he’s the commander in chief and the leader of our country, then he’s calling for help. I thought he was calling for help. I thought we were doing the right thing.”
Video of Rodriguez’s confession and comments about Trump “calling for help” was released by the Justice Department on Tuesday.
Newly released video of defendant who admitted to electroshocking a DC police officer in the neck on January 6th shows him discussing his motivation for attacking the U.S. Capitol: https://t.co/xZMknSXhTH
— David A. Weinberg (@DavidAWeinberg) December 1, 2021
“I thought that there was going to be fighting, for some reason, in different cities and I thought that the main fight, the main battle, was going to be in D.C. because Trump called everyone there,” Rodriguez added.
Rodriguez admitted to using a taser on police officer Mike Fanone during the violence at the Capitol. “What do you want me to tell you? That I tased him? Yes. Am I a fucking piece of shit? Yes,” Rodriguez said, adding, “I’m sorry. I don’t know. He’s a human being with children. And he’s not a bad guy, it sounds like. He’s just doing his job, and he — I’m an asshole.”
Rodriguez, who has pleaded not guilty to assaulting Fanone, later concluded, “We thought that we were going to save America, and we were wrong.”
Judge Berman Jackson is presiding over Rodriguez’s case in addition to Peterson’s. Though the Obama appointee and vocal critic of Trump slammed the former president and his allies for “stoking the flames of fear” in Peterson’s sentencing hearing on Wednesday, she emphasized that this doesn’t mean the blame doesn’t also lie with the individuals who carried out the attack. “No one was swept away to the Capitol. No one was carried,” she said. “There may be others who bear greater responsibility and should be held accountable, but this is not their day in court. It’s yours.”
Over 700 people have been charged following the riot at the Capitol so far. Trump and his most prominent allies have so far escaped accountability.