Jack Smith Says Trump’s ‘Own Deliberate Actions’ Caused The Jan. 6 Capitol Attack


Well, here’s a new one.

Excuses from Trump’s circles for the attack on the Capitol in early 2021 have included the idea it was a legitimate outgrowth of outrage over the supposedly fraudulent outcome to the 2020 presidential race and the lie that the riot was a secret project of government cooperators, which has never been supported by the available, real-world evidence. In filings in his criminal case alleging a series of conspiracies related to the 2020 election outcome, Trump’s team is now trying to point the finger at foreign influence operations as supposedly having meaningfully encouraged his followers towards attacking the Capitol.

Jack Smith’s team says that’s ridiculous, in terms of both its substance and the applications of that argument Trump was trying to make that could compel the sharing by the government of (poorly explained) materials related to the claimed problems. Prosecutors were responding to a push from Trump’s team for an expansion of the discovery obligations on the government, meaning an expansion in the scope of what prosecutors would need to provide as part of the routine, pre-trial process of sharing potentially relevant materials.

“No one disputes that certain foreign countries, to varying extents, attempted to influence Americans and spread disinformation. But the lies told by others in no way exonerate the defendant for the specific lies he told to his followers or the criminal steps he took to illegally retain power,” Smith’s team said. (Whether the materials could help exonerate Trump is part of calculating whether they’d fall under potential discovery obligations.)

The special counsel’s team added: “Even if the actions of a third party could legally excuse the defendant’s crimes (and they cannot), the defendant’s assertion that foreign countries somehow inspired the Capitol siege is both speculative and far-fetched, particularly in light of his own deliberate actions that caused the attack. […] The notion that the rioters who sieged the Capitol were inspired by foreign countries rather than the defendant’s drumbeat of inflammatory and false rhetoric is, at best, a counterfactual guess—an “unsubstantiated possibility” that cannot justify the defendant’s vague and sprawling requests for “all information” related to foreign influence possessed by every federal employee outside the judiciary.”