A Kansas man convicted of plotting to blow up an apartment building home to Muslim refugees during the 2016 election wants a federal judge to consider President Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric during his sentencing this week.
Patrick Eugene Stein, an avid supporter of Trump and member of the Crusaders militia group, faces life in prison for his role in the plot.
In a remarkable sentencing memo filed in U.S. District Court in Kansas on Monday and first reported by HuffPost, attorneys James Pratt and Michael Shultz asked that their client receive a 15-year sentence. They say Trump’s comments on the campaign trail should be seen as the “backdrop” for Stein’s actions.
“2016 was ‘lit,’” they wrote. “The court cannot ignore the circumstances of one of the most rhetorically mold-breaking, violent, awful, hateful and contentious presidential elections in modern history, driven in large measure by the rhetorical China shop bull who is now our president.”
The attorneys argue that Stein, who had a lifelong struggle with substance abuse and two failed marriages, was particularly vulnerable to this sort of rhetoric.
“Trump’s brand of rough-and-tumble verbal pummeling heightened the rhetorical stakes for people of all political persuasions,” the attorneys wrote. “A person normally at a 3 on a scale of political talk might have found themselves at a 7 during the election. A person, like Patrick, who would often be at a 7 during a normal day, might ‘go to 11.’ See SPINAL TAP.”
Stein and his fellow militia members Curtis Allen and Gavin Wright (pictured above) were found guilty in April of conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction. At trial, government prosecutors focused heavily on the men’s Islamophobic rhetoric and threats. The men allegedly referred to Muslims as “cockroaches” and said that the “only good Muslim is a dead Muslim.”
Stein’s fear of Muslims and false beliefs about the Quran came “directly from the internet and conservative talk-show hosts such as Sean Hannity and Michael Savage,” his attorneys argue in their latest filing.
All three men are scheduled to be sentenced Friday.