Faced with arrest and detention for their alleged crimes at the Capitol riot last week, some of the President’s supporters blurted out a bracing dose of reality, according to news reports and court documents: Donald Trump asked me to be there.
As federal agents across the country begin racking up dozens of arrests for the mob attack on the Congress, variations on the line have come up again and again.
Charging documents released Friday, for example, state that Kentucky man Robert Bauer allegedly told federal agents that he, his wife and his cousin marched on the Capitol building “because Trump said to do so.”
Those particular instructions came during Trump’s speech outside the White House, when the President said “something about taking Pennsylvania Avenue,” Bauer’s cousin, Edward Hemenway, allegedly recalled to the FBI.
Trump ended his speech by telling the crowd, “let’s walk down Pennsylvania Avenue.” The Capitol is at the other end of the avenue from the White House.
Like hundreds of others who attended Trump’s speech that morning and subsequently marched on the Capitol, Bauer and his wife allegedly traveled from out-of-state “to attend the pro-Trump rally” in D.C. on Jan. 6, according to court documents. He spoke to the FBI two days later — after someone tipped off the bureau to photos Bauer had posted of himself and his cousin in the Capitol.
In his interview with federal agents, Hemenway acknowledged staying in a hotel room in D.C. the night before the Trump rally. Hemenway allegedly said he “didn’t know what was going to happen,” on Jan. 6, but that he’d heard “crazy things” on social media.
Hemenway and Bauer, pictured above, now face federal charges of knowingly entering restricted grounds and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.
On Orders From The Commander In Chief
The cousins’ admission is practically par for the course at this point.
“The President asked for his supporters to be there to attend, and I felt like it was important, because of how much I love this country, to actually be there,” Brock said.
“We were invited here by the President of the United States,” another man yelled at police officers on the Capitol grounds, in a video that’s since circulated widely on the web.
Very telling video of rioters outside the Capitol shouting at police: "We were invited here. We were invited by the president of the United States" pic.twitter.com/Ctt5M1ijoA
— Drew Harwell (@drewharwell) January 13, 2021
Multiple Capitol riot attendees have also cited the need for them to be there to do something about Vice President Mike Pence. Trump stoked anger at his vice president during his speech from the White House Wednesday morning, publicly pressuring him to overturn the election results.
Trump addressed Pence directly several times during his remarks.
“Mike Pence, I hope you’re going to stand up for the good of our Constitution and for the good of our country,” Trump said at one point. “And if you’re not, I’m going to be very disappointed in you. I will tell you right now. I’m not hearing good stories.”
In fact, Pence had reportedly told Trump before the President’s speech that he would not attempt to overturn the election.
But once that news rippled through the crowd Wednesday, it fueled some protesters now facing charges.
“Once we found out Pence turned on us and they had stolen the election, like officially, the crowd went crazy,” a man appearing to be Joshua Matthew Black allegedly said in a YouTube video after the riot, one that was cited in a court document in his case.
Black is charged with entering restricted grounds and violent disorderly conduct.
“I mean, it became a mob,” he allegedly said. “We crossed the gate.”
Derrick Evans, the West Virginia state legislator who live-streamed his own entry into the Capitol, allegedly discussed a plan to invade if Pence betrayed the President.
“They’re making an announcement right now saying if Pence betrays us you better get your mind right because we’re storming that building,” Evans allegedly said, referring to an unnamed speaker outside Congress.
Evans also allegedly shared pro-Trump posters online making his allegiance to the President clear.
Some of Trump’s foot soldiers are by now practically celebrities. Aaron Motofsky, the son of a New York judge, was interview by the New York Post in the middle of the Capitol breach in a video that’s now circled the globe.
Motofsky faces charges of entering a restricted building, disorderly conduct, engaging in disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds with intent to impede government business, and theft of government property.
Motofsky told the Post — the conversation was quoted in court documents — that he was in the Capitol because “this election was stolen, we were cheated. I don’t think 75 million people voted for Trump, I think it was 85 million.”
Asked if members of Congress should be afraid of the mob, Motofsky used a word Trump dropped eight times in his speech: Courage.
“They should get the courage to do their duty,” he said, “to examine the fraud, and maybe delay the election.”