Feeling betrayed, rioters turn on Trump ahead of impeachment trial

·4-min read

The lawyer for an Arizona man who took part in the insurrection at the US Capitol while sporting face paint, no shirt and a furry hat with horns is offering to have his client testify at former President Donald Trump’s upcoming impeachment trial.

Lawyer Albert Watkins said he hasn’t spoken to any member in the Senate since announcing his offer to have Jacob Chansley testify at Trump’s trial, which is scheduled to begin the week of February 8.

Watkins said it’s important for senators to hear the voice of someone who was incited by Trump.

The lawyer said his client was previously “horrendously smitten” by Trump but now feels let down after Trump’s refusal to grant Chansley and others who participated in the insurrection a pardon.

“He felt like he was betrayed by the president,” Watkins said.

Egged on by the outgoing president, some Trump fans now languish in jail. Source: Getty
Egged on by the outgoing president, some Trump fans now languish in jail. Source: Getty

The words of Trump supporters who are accused of participating in the riot may end up being used against him in the impeachment trial. Chansley and at least four others people who are facing federal charges stemming from the riot have suggested they were taking orders from Trump.

Chansley hasn’t yet entered a plea to charges of civil disorder, obstruction of an official proceeding, disorderly conduct in a restricted building, demonstrating in a Capitol building and other counts. He was scheduled to be arraigned Friday (local time) in Washington.

In successfully seeking his detention until trial, prosecutors said Chansley went into the Capitol carrying a US flag attached to a wooden pole topped with a spear, ignored an officer’s commands to leave, went into the Senate chamber and wrote a threatening note to then-Vice President Mike Pence.

Chansley, who calls himself the “QAnon Shaman” and has long been a fixture at Trump rallies, told investigators he came to the Capitol “at the request of the president that all ‘patriots’ come to DC on January 6,” according to court records.

Other supporters who stormed the capitol building on Trump’s behalf have since turned on the president. Facing serious federal charges, their defence effectively boils down to: “Trump made me do it.”

Garrett Miller, arrested over his involvement in the siege, laid the blame at Trump’s feet for his unrelenting election lies.

“I was in Washington DC on January 6, 2021, because I believed I was following the instructions of former President Trump and he was my president and the commander-in-chief, he said in a statement released by his lawyer.

“His statements also had me believing the election was stolen from him.”

Legal experts have called the defence “desperate” and legally invalid.

Donald Trump has added two more former federal prosecutors from South Carolina to his impeachment legal team as he bulks up his defence team ahead of Monday week.

In fight over GOP, state parties stand as firewall for Trump

Donald Trump has mused about forming a third party. But it’s unclear why he even needs one.

State and county Republican Party committees have rushed to Trump’s defense — highlighting the former president’s firm control of the GOP machinery.

In swing states and GOP bastions, state and local Republican committees are stocked with Trump supporters who remain loyal. Trump critics have been pushed out or marginalised. Party committees from Washington state to South Carolina have moved to punish many of the 10 House Republicans who supported Trump’s impeachment.

Trump’s lock on the party apparatus is the result of a yearslong takeover of an institution he only loosely affiliated with before taking office. The effect amounts to a firewall protecting him and his far-right, nationalist politics from Republicans who argue the party needs a new direction if it wants to win elections.

“It’s come to the point where you have to be with him 100 percent of the time, or you’re the enemy,” said Dave Millage, a former Iowa lawmaker who was pushed out as Scott County GOP chairman after calling for Trump’s impeachment.

On Saturday, the South Carolina GOP will decide whether to censure Republican Rep. Tom Rice for his vote to impeach the former president. It’s a move meant to scar the five-term congressman for what many of his constituents considered a betrayal, said GOP chairwoman Dreama Perdue.

In some cases, the state parties’ defence of Trump has exposed the extent to which disinformation, conspiracy theories and views once considered fringe have been normalised in the Republican party.

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