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‘Misled by the president’s deception’: Proud Boys member blames Trump for inciting Capitol riots

February 10, 2021, 10:40 PM UTC

A member of the far-right Proud Boys charged for his role in the riot at the U.S. Capitol blamed former President Donald Trump for his conduct, claiming he was “misled by the president’s deception.”

As Trump faces trial in the Senate on charges that he incited the Jan. 6 insurrection, a lawyer for the Proud Boy, Dominic Pezzola, filed a memo in federal court in Washington on Wednesday making an argument Democrats have stressed repeatedly in the impeachment proceedings: that the riot was the culmination of weeks of conspiracies and misinformation spread by the president to overturn the election results.

When he stormed the Capitol, Pezzola was responding to “the entreaties of the then commander in chief, President Trump,” according to the filing by lawyer Jonathan Zucker. “Defendant did not act out of criminal intent but out of conscience, albeit a frighteningly confused and distorted sense of conscience.”

So far, law-enforcement authorities in Washington have arrested more than 200 people in connection with the Capitol siege. Pezzola was charged with conspiracy and civil disorder, among other offenses. And he was accused of confronting a Capitol police officer, Eugene Goodman, at the foot of a staircase inside the building.

Pezzola was featured at the trial on Wednesday, as impeachment managers for the House of Representatives gave a minute-by-minute narration of the breach of the Capitol.

“You can see Pezzola in the mob, chase Capitol officer Eugene Goodman through the building,” said Representative Stacey Plaskett, a Democrat from the Virgin Islands. “They were out to murder anyone they could get their hands on,” she added, citing an FBI agent’s affidavit.

In Pezzola’s filing on Wednesday, he asked a judge in Washington to release him from jail pending trial.

The filing said Pezzola would learn from his mistakes. “As a result of this experience he has learned not be so gullible and will not be so easily duped again,” it said.

The case is U.S. v. Pezzola, 21-cr-52, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).