A federal judge suggested Wednesday that Donald Trump and others who spoke at the “Stop the Steal” rally on January 6 should be held accountable for the US Capitol riot that followed, saying the then-President “stoked” the crowd and “might’ve inspired what happened.”
Though she did not refer to Trump by name, District Judge Amy Berman Jackson said during a sentencing for riot defendant Russell Peterson that the former President and other speakers at the Ellipse riled the crowd and “explicitly encouraged them 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.”
“There may be others who bear greater responsibility and should be held accountable,” Jackson said to Peterson. “But this is not their day in court. It’s yours.”
Jackson joins the ranks of several federal judges in Washington who have sharply criticized Trump for his inflammatory speech at the January 6 rally, with one judge saying last month that rioters were “pawns” provoked into action.
While Jackson stopped short of laying full responsibility at the feet of those who spoke at the January 6 rally, she and other judges have lambasted Trump and even suggested he may face legal consequences.
Jackson has handled many politically significant court cases from the Trump era and its aftermath, and she’s known for her sharp criticism of his administration. She handles a number of the more than 670 Capitol riot cases, and has repeatedly disavowed attempts to frame rioters as political prisoners and called attention to what she considers dangerous lies about the 2020 election.
Jackson also said Peterson should be held accountable, noting that he is an adult and responsible for his own actions on January 6. “
You did receive a lot of overwhelming inaccurate information on social media,” Jackson said to Peterson, “but you had a choice to reject the lies and not to join the antidemocratic call for martial law.”
“No one was swept away to the Capitol. No one was carried,” the judge added.
Peterson was sentenced to 30 days in jail — twice the jail time prosecutors had asked for — and was ordered to pay $500 for damage done to the Capitol building during the riot. Jackson pointed to concerning posts on Peterson’s social media accounts before and after the riot, including a comment where he said he “had fun lol” on January 6, as one of the main reasons she believed he deserved a jail sentence.
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