On Wednesday a federal judge indicated that then-President Donald Trump’s remarks on Jan. 6, 2021, in which he urged his supporters to “fight like hell” before the Capitol attack could have been deemed a signal that the President wanted them “to do something more”, something beyond simply protesting.
In a court order in the case against Jan. 6 defendant Alexander Sheppard, U.S. District Judge John Bates ruled that Sheppard was not allowed to use the “public authority” defense at trial after his lawyer had claimed that Trump had authorized his client’s actions on that day.
Bates, who was appointed by President George W. Bush, rejected the argument stating that “President Trump neither stated nor implied that entering the restricted area of the Capitol grounds and the Capitol building or impeding the certification of the electoral vote was lawful” and thus, the public authority defense is not applicable.
Bates determined that Trump’s words only encouraged the protest or the march to the Capitol, but nothing more than that. He added, “although his express words only mention walking down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol, one might conclude that the context implies that he was urging protestors to do something more — perhaps to enter the Capitol building and stop the certification.”
In his ruling, Bates also pointed to the fact that his ruling was not going against the Jan. 6 committee’s final report, which concluded that Trump’s actions were corrupt as he knew that blocking the certification was against the rule.
His ruling is the first to point to the House select committee’s final report in the footnotes.