During a Friday sentencing hearing for Capitol rioter John Lolos, federal Judge Amit Mehta sharply criticized the incitement for the riot that was provided by former President Donald Trump and others. Although Trump himself could no doubt be said to have led the charge of incitement, he was assisted by Republican leaders like the numerous members of Congress who opted to entertain the then-president’s false election fraud claims instead of rejecting them for the lies that they were. As for Lolos, he’d previously pleaded guilty to a single count of illegally parading, demonstrating, or picketing in the Capitol, which is a misdemeanor offense that comes with up to six months in prison. On Friday, Lolos was sentenced to 14 days in jail.
As reported by journalist Zoe Tillman, Mehta said that Lolos “and others were called to Washington, D.C., by an elected official, prompted to walk to the Capitol by an elected official. People like Mr. Lolos were told lies and falsehoods and told that an election was stolen when it clearly was not.” The judge added that “regrettably, people like Mr. Lolos for whatever reason are impressionable and will believe such falsehoods and such lies… And they are the ones who are suffering the consequences,” adding that those who fostered the events of January 6 have “in no meaningful sense of the word.. been held to account.” Mehta referred to Lolos himself as “a pawn in a game that’s played and directed by people who should know better.”
Lolos was originally taken into custody for his involvement in the riot following an incident in which he was chanting “Trump 2020!” on a Delta Airlines flight out of Ronald Reagan International Airport, which is situated near Washington, D.C. After Lolos was removed from that flight and re-booked on another one, an officer with the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Police Department recognized Lolos from footage of the Capitol violence. That officer got in touch with United States Capitol Police Dignitary Protection Division agents, who took Lolos aside before he was soon afterwards arrested by other Capitol Police officers. At the Capitol, Lolos entered through a broken window, but he was not accused of more serious offenses, such as perpetrating physical violence against police officers.