Dominic Pezzola is Latest Capitol Rioter to Blast Trump for Misleading Supporters

An attorney representing alleged Proud Boys member Dominic Pezzola for his alleged involvement in the violent riot at the U.S. Capitol on January 6 blasted former President Donald Trump's "deception" of millions of his supporters about the election results.

Pezzola, a former U.S. Marine and native of Rochester, New York, was indicted by a grand jury last month for allegedly helping to remove a police barricade "so that other Proud Boys and persons could infiltrate the plaza, thus depriving Capitol Police officers of a means of controlling access to the Capitol and certain areas within the Capitol grounds." The suspect entered a plea of "not guilty" during a virtual court appearance on Tuesday.

In a legal motion filed Wednesday, Pezzola's attorney argued that his client "acted out of the delusional belief that he was a 'patriot' protecting his country,"—pointing to his former military service. "He was responding to the entreaties of the then commander in chief, President Trump," the attorney wrote. The brief was first reported by Politico.

"The President maintained that the election had been stolen and it was the duty of loyal citizens to 'stop the steal,'" the motion continued. "Admittedly there was no rational basis for this claim, but it is apparent that the defendant was one of millions of Americans who were misled by the President's deception," the lawyer added, arguing that his client "did not act out of criminal intent."

U.S. Capitol riot
Pro-Trump supporters storm the U.S. Capitol following a rally with then President Donald Trump on January 6 in Washington, D.C. Samuel Corum/Getty

In a footnote at the bottom of page 13 of the 15-page motion, the attorney took aim at the reality that Trump has returned to his normal wealthy lifestyle while many of his supporters are facing years in prison.

"Press accounts of the underlying event are rampant with the universal claim by all protesters that they were acting at the behest of President Trump to save the country from a stolen election," he wrote. "Many of those who heeded his call will be spending substantial portions if not the remainder of their lives in prison as a consequence. Meanwhile, Donald Trump resumes his life of luxury and privilege."

Pezzola's attorney Jonathan Zucker told Newsweek that his client had no further comment. But the lawyer said he would "note that the representations in the motion are consistent with and being more vigorously laid out in detail in the trial currently going on in the Senate."

Nearly 200 criminal cases have been filed against alleged participants in the Capitol riot. Of those, more than a dozen have blamed Trump directly for inciting their actions. Several of the higher-profile suspects even publicly requested a pardon from the former president before he left office.

Ahead of the events of January 6, Trump and many of his Republican allies repeatedly pushed the baseless conspiracy theory that President Joe Biden won the election through widespread voter fraud. Dozens of lawsuits challenging the election results were dismissed or rejected by state and federal courts across the country, as even judges appointed by Trump and other Republicans pointed out that there was no evidence to support the extraordinary claims.

With the lawsuits failing, Trump repeatedly urged his supporters to attend "wild" demonstrations on January 6 in Washington, D.C., coinciding with the formal certification of Biden's victory by Congress. At a rally near the White House that day, Trump continued to push his baseless claims and urged his supporters to march to the Capitol and "fight like hell" to keep him in power. Hundreds of his supporters did just that, storming the legislative branch while some threatened to harm or kill prominent lawmakers. Five people died in the violence.

Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives a week after the riot for helping to incite the attack. Ten House Republicans voted alongside Democrats to support the presidential indictment. The Senate is currently holding a trial for Trump, in which senators are serving as jurors. In order for Trump to be convicted and prevented from holding office in the future, two-thirds of the Senators (or all the chamber's Democrats plus 17 Republicans) must vote to convict. Analysts believe it is unlikely that enough GOP senators will vote against the former president.