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By MICHAEL KUNZELMAN and ALANNA DURKIN RICHER, Associated Press

The “Trump-made-me-do-it” defense is already looking like a longshot.

Facing damning evidence in the deadly Capitol siege last month — including social media posts flaunting their actions — rioters are arguing in court they were following then-President Donald Trump's instructions on Jan.

6. But the legal strategy has already been shot down by at least one judge and experts believe the argument is not likely to get anyone off the hook for the insurrection where five people died, including a police officer.

“This purported defense, if recognized, would undermine the rule of law because then, just like a king or a dictator, the president could dictate what’s illegal and what isn’t in this country," U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell said recently in ordering pretrial detention of William Chrestman, a suspected member of the Kansas City-area chapter of the Proud Boys. “And that is not how we operate here.”

Chrestman’s attorneys argued in court papers that Trump gave the mob “explicit permission and encouragement” to do what they did, providing those who obeyed him with “a viable defense against criminal liability.”

“It is an astounding thing to imagine storming the United States Capitol with sticks and flags and bear spray, arrayed against armed and highly trained law enforcement. Only someone who thought they had an official endorsement would even attempt such a thing. And a Proud Boy who had been paying attention would very much believe he did,” Chrestman’s lawyers wrote.

Trump was acquitted of inciting the insurrection during his second impeachment trial, where Democrats made some of the same arguments defense attorneys are making in criminal court. Some Republican lawmakers have said the better place for the accusations against Trump is in court, too.

Meanwhile, prosecutors have brought charges against more than 250 people so far in the attack, including conspiracy, assault, civil disorder and obstruction of an official proceeding. Authorities have suggested that rare sedition charges could be coming against some. Hundreds of Trump supporters were photographed and videotaped storming the Capitol and scores posted selfies inside the building on social media, so they can’t exactly argue in court they weren’t there. Blaming Trump may be the best defense they have.

“What’s the better argument when you’re on videotape prancing around the Capitol with a coat rack in your hand?” said Sam Shamansky, who’s representing Dustin Thompson, an Ohio man accused of stealing a coat rack during the riot.

Shamansky said his client would never have been at the Capitol on Jan. 6 if Trump hadn’t “summoned him there.” Trump, he added, engaged in a “devious yet effective plot to brainwash” supporters into believing the election was stolen, putting them in the position where they “felt the the need to defend their country at the request of the commander in chief.”

“I think it fits perfectly,” he said of the defense. “The more nuanced question is: Who is going to buy it? What kind of jury panel do you need to understand that?”

While experts say blaming Trump may not get their clients off the hook, it may help at sentencing when they ask the judge for leniency.

“It could likely be considered a mitigating factor that this person genuinely believed they were simply following the instructions of the leader of the United States,” said Barbara McQuade, a former U.S. attorney in Michigan who's now a professor at the University of Michigan Law School.

It could also bolster any potential cases against the former president, experts say.

“That defense is dead on arrival,” said Bradley Simon, a New York City white-collar criminal defense attorney and former federal prosecutor. “But I do think that these statements by defendants saying that they were led on by Trump causes a problem for him if the Justice Department or the attorney general in D.C. were to start looking at charges against him for incitement of the insurrection.”

While the legal bar is high for prosecuting Trump in the Capitol siege, the former president is already facing a lawsuit from Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson that accuses him of conspiring with extremist groups to prevent Congress from certifying the election results. And more lawsuits could come.

Trump spread baseless claims about the election for weeks and addressed thousands of supporters at a rally near the White House before the Capitol riot, telling them that they had gathered in Washington "to save our democracy." Later, Trump said, “I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.”

A lawyer for Jacob Chansley, the shirtless man who wore face paint and a hat with horns inside the Capitol, attached a highlighted transcript of the Trump's speech before the riot to a court filing seeking Chansley's release from custody. The defense lawyer, Albert Watkins, said the federal government is sending a “disturbingly chilling message” that Americans will be prosecuted “if they do that which the President asks them to do.”

Defense lawyers have employed other strategies without better success. In one case, the judge called a defense attorney’s portrayal of the riots as mere trespassing or civil disobedience both “unpersuasive and detached from reality.” In another, a judge rejected a man’s claim that he was “duped” into joining the anti-government Oath Keepers group and participating in the attack on the Capitol.

Other defendants linked to militant groups also have tried to shift blame to Trump in seeking their pretrial release from jail. An attorney for Jessica Watkins said the Oath Keepers member believed local militias would be called into action if Trump invoked the Insurrection Act to stay in office. Watkins disavowed the Oath Keepers during a court hearing on Friday, saying she has been “appalled” by fellow members of the far-right militia.

“However misguided, her intentions were not in any way related to an intention to overthrow the government, but to support what she believed to be the lawful government,” her lawyer wrote.

Meanwhile, a lawyer for Dominic Pezzola, another suspected Proud Boy, “acted out of the delusional belief that he was a ‘patriot’ protecting his country." Defense attorney Jonathan Zucker described Pezzola as “one of millions of Americans who were misled by the President's deception.”

“Many of those who heeded his call will be spending substantial portions if not the remainder of their lives in prison as a consequence," he wrote. “Meanwhile Donald Trump resumes his life of luxury and privilege."

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Tags: Associated Press, crime, Washington, D.C.

News Source: usnews.com

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Jess Wright looks ready for bed after boozy night out with friends in London

JESS Wright looked ready for bed after her boozy night out in London with her pals.

The former Towie star, 35, enjoyed a night out at the fancy Connaught Hotel in Mayfair on Tuesday.

James Curley 9 Jess Wright can’t keep her eyes open in the cab

Jess wore blue jeans, a green top and a brown jacket, with her black purse on her lap.

However, she looked ready for bed by the time she got into the cab – and almost fell off her chair.

It seemed like a good night for Jessica, as her and her pals sank cocktails while sat in the hotel bar’s outside space.

The reality star filmed herself as they wrapped up warm and she captioned one of the pics: “I’ve missed these nights. We’ve spoken a lot about these nights.

James Curley 9 The star seemed to enjoy herself at the fancy hotel

James Curley 9 She jumped into the cab after enjoying a night of drinks

James Curley 9 She was all smiles on her way home

“Love you lucey @lucasmarmitage”

Jess appears to be blowing off steam ahead of her wedding to William Lee Kemp, which she hopes will take place in Majorca in June.

But travel uncertainty means she doesn’t know if the wedding will go ahead.

Speaking to Fabulous earlier this month, the ITVBe star said: “Being a Covid bride is just crap. We have every hope it might happen in June but we just have to wait and hear what the announcements are.

instagram 9 The star was out with her friends

instagram 9 They enjoyed a series of cocktails

“Knowing the fate of your wedding two months before it’s supposed to take place in another country with a lot of guests is about as bad as it can get as a bride.

“It’s totally ruined the whole experience for us.

“I feel robbed. I probably won’t get excited until I’m literally walking down the aisle. By then, I just don’t even think I’m going to care any more.”

In January, Carol, 62, and dad Mark senior, 64, both got Covid-19, and earlier this month her uncle Edward, who Jess said was like a second dad, lost his life to the virus.

instagram 9 Jessica also enjoyed some wine on her night out

instagram 9 She shared photos of her cocktails

Instagram/jesswright77 9 Jess with her fiancé William, who she hopes to marry this year Most read in Showbiz BULLS**T! Teen Mom Amber storms off set in fight with ex Gary & host Dr Drew on reunion AU NATURAL Lizzo poses completely NAKED without makeup for unedited photo CRISIS TALK The Talk execs fear Carrie Ann will QUIT as they eye Jenna Dewan to replace her SEX TALK Kourtney posts about loving rough sex as romance with Travis heats up SO EMBARRASSING American Idol fans slam Harry Connick Jrs performance as terrible CARRIED AWAY? Fans suspect Carrie Ann will QUIT The Talk amid stress over Sharons exit

Jess says it has been a very stressful few months but she is counting her blessings and feels lucky to have mum Carol by her side.

She shared: “I’ve got a wonderful family, I’ve got my health and I’ve got a lovely fiancé. My mum’s better than me under pressure.

“She keeps a brave face on for me then when she’s off the phone she probably cries.

“She always says, ‘Calm down. Don’t get stressed, it’s going to be all right’,” she continued. “My mum’s been to every bride’s dress visit I’ve had, in her mask, of course.

“I’m very indecisive — in the end it was between two dresses — I’ve driven her mad.”

Jessica Wright looks stunning in instagram video showing off her curly hair
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