Pardon-Seeking Rioters Claiming They Were 'Following My President' Could Hurt Trump's Case

As protesters identified in last week's U.S. Capitol riot get arrested, a few have sought pardons from President Donald Trump before his term comes to an end on Wednesday.

Some of the people claim they were following directives from Trump. Observers have noted on Twitter that these claims could be used in a Senate impeachment trial and hurt arguments that the president didn't incite violence.

The lawyer for Jacob Anthony Chansley (also known as Jake Angeli) recently said in a statement that the "QAnon Shaman" was seeking a presidential pardon and "accepted President Trump's invitation to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol," according to St. Louis CBS-affiliate KMOV.

"Given the peaceful and compliant fashion in which Mr. Chansley comported himself, it would be appropriate and honorable for the president to pardon Mr. Chansley and other like-minded, peaceful individuals who accepted the president's invitation with honorable intentions," said attorney Albert Watkins.

In a video shared by CBS DFW's Doug Dunbar, another protester who's been arrested, Jenna Ryan, said she didn't believe she broke the law because she was doing things the president had asked. "I thought I was following my president. I thought I was following what we were called to do, flying there. He asked us to fly there. He asked us to be there. So I was doing what he asked us to do. So as far as in my heart of hearts, do I feel like a criminal? No," she said in a clip circulating on Twitter. Another video of Ryan has been circulating on Twitter, which seems to show her on the steps of the Capitol on January 6.

.@CBSDFW exclusive, #JennaRyan tells @NicoleNielsen that she flew to D.C. and stormed the #Capitol, because President Trump told her to. No other reason. Ryan faces 2 federal charges, was arrested today and had her house searched by federal agents...(more).

— Doug Dunbar (@cbs11doug) January 16, 2021

On Twitter, people have shared the video of the interview, saying that it may be useful in a Senate impeachment trial against Trump. Writer and activist Amy Siskind shared the footage, suggesting that New York Senator Chuck Schumer "might want to use this clip." Astronomer Phil Plait joked about Ryan being the first witness during the impeachment trial.

Seems like @SenSchumer might want to use this clip next week:

“I thought I was following my president. I thought I was following what we were called to do. He asked us to fly there. So I was doing was he asked us to do.”

— Amy Siskind 🏳️‍🌈 (@Amy_Siskind) January 16, 2021

I'd like to call the first witness for the Senate impeachment trial...

— Phil Plait (@BadAstronomer) January 16, 2021

Author and activist Derek Cressman made a similar comment about Chansley, sharing an article about how he was seeking a pardon and saying he was following the president's instructions.

Q’Anon shaman is using the ‘Trump told me to’ defense.

This provides great evidence for the Senate trial.

— Derek Cressman (@DerekCressman) January 15, 2021

Others shared the clip, noting that it could be used against the president. Tennis player Martina Navratilova said that the clip may ironically be used to "help removed trump [sic] from office." Journalist Yashar Ali said that many who stormed the Capitol were using the excuse. "[I]t certainly doesn't make things better for President Trump," he wrote.

It could be these people will help remove trump from office ... #ironylives

— Martina Navratilova (@Martina) January 16, 2021

More and more of the insurrectionists are using this excuse. Should it get them out of anything? Nope. But it certainly doesn't make things better for President Trump.

— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) January 16, 2021

Newsweek reached out to the White House and Trump campaign for comment. This story will be updated if one is received.

Jake Angeli QAnon Shaman Capitol Protest
Protesters interact with Capitol Police inside the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6. Win McNamee/Getty