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Report: 210 Jan. 6 Defendants Say They Answered Trump’s “Call” to Attack Capitol

“We basically was just following what he said,” one participant in the Capitol attack said, according to the report.

President Donald Trump speaks at the 'Stop The Steal' Rally on January 6, 2021, in Washington, D.C.

A new report from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) provides further evidence for critics of former President Donald Trump who say the former president should be constitutionally disqualified from being able to run for office again.

The CREW report, published on Wednesday, based its findings on analyses of hundreds of those who have been criminally charged for their role in attacking the U.S. Capitol building on January 6, 2021, to interfere with the certification of the 2020 presidential election, which Trump lost to President Joe Biden.

The findings make clear: those defendants attacked Congress because they believed Trump told them to.

According to the report, 210 defendants in total have said (as part of their defenses, plea statements or other commentaries) that “they were answering Donald Trump’s calls when they traveled to Washington and joined the violent attack on the Capitol.” CREW found these statements by digging into the defendants’ letters to judges, court filings and appeals to the public.

“These findings bolster those of the January 6th Select Committee which found Trump was the ‘central cause’ of the attack on the Capitol,” CREW said in the report.

The report provides extensive documentation of what participants in the attack were saying, providing evidence of their motivations to help Trump stay in office. In a message from Kelly Meggs, a Florida member of the far right Oath Keepers organization, a tweet from Trump weeks prior to the attack telling his supporters to attend a “wild” rally on January 6 was a call to arms.

“He wants us to make it WILD that’s what he’s saying,” Meggs said in a group chat, closing his message with “Sir Yes Sir!!”

Another example provided by CREW in its report came from rioter Deborah Sandoval, who came to Washington, D.C., for that day’s events from Des Moines, Iowa. “Trump has called all patriots. If the electors don’t elect, we will be forced into civil war,” Sandoval wrote in a message.

Although some had decided to use violence in Washington on January 6 before arriving, others only decided to attack the Capitol after Trump’s incendiary speech, the CREW report noted, adding that the former president told the crowd, some of whom he knew were armed, to “walk down to the Capitol” and to “fight like hell” on his behalf.

“The President got everybody riled up and told everybody to head on down,” rioter Stephen Ayres said, according to the report. “So we basically was just following what he said.”

Ayres, like many of the rioters, didn’t leave until Trump finally issued a statement, hours after the attack had started, calling for his followers to “go home.”

CREW says the report indicates that Trump should be barred from running for office under the terms of the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution, which bars individuals from holding office of any kind if they’ve previously served in a government position and gave an oath to uphold the Constitution, and later “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against the US.

Trump has been deemed ineligible to run for president this year by two states, Colorado and Maine, which concluded he did engage in insurrection. Trump appealed the decision by Colorado to the US Supreme Court, which heard oral arguments in the case last week, with almost all justices indicating their reticence about allowing states to individually decide who should qualify on their ballots.

The High Court didn’t consider Trump’s actions during the Capitol attack or even those of his loyalists, staying clear of the question of whether Trump incited an insurrection.

“Most members of the court all but ignored Trump’s participation in the January 6 insurrection, the greatest threat to the survival of the republic since the Civil War,” Marjorie Cohn, professor emerita at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, wrote for Truthout about the hearing.

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