Jack Smith Declares Trump Directly Responsible For Jan. 6 Violence In Court


The federal prosecutors handling the criminal case against former President Donald Trump over his post-2020 election attempts to stay in power despite losing continue to declare him directly responsible for the violence at the Capitol of January 6, 2021.

The connection was already circumstantially evident, considering riot participants were there that day specifically in outrage stemming from Trump’s abject lies about what had transpired during the 2020 presidential race. Some individual January 6 participants themselves have pointed back to Trump.

The new context for the link drawn by prosecutors was a filing relating to evidence and arguments that could eventually be heard at trial in that criminal case. Though arguments from Trump that could stop the case if accepted are currently pending before a federal court of appeals in Washington, D.C., and could subsequently reach the U.S. Supreme Court, the assumption is still that trial will, in fact, take place. Accordingly, prosecutors were concerned about potential arguments at trial that could distract future jurors from the specific questions they’re actually meant to be answering — meaning whether Trump is guilty or innocent of the specific, factual allegations made.

Prosecutors wanted a block from the judge on references to a series of purported excuses for the Capitol riot, particularly blame cast on figures ranging from the D.C. mayor to foreign individuals involved in alleged influence operations. It was Trump, prosecutors said.

“Here, any defense argument that a third party was responsible for the defendant’s crimes contravenes Rule 403. To begin with, the defendant has not pointed to a single piece of evidence indicating that foreign influence—rather than his own lies—motivated rioters on January 6. And in any event, whether others—be they civilians or foreign actors—said untrue things on the internet does not exonerate the defendant for the lies he told to his followers or the criminal steps he took to illegally retain power,” prosecutors said, rebuking foreign influence ideas.

The filing was wide-ranging, also including a request for Trump’s team to be blocked from using at trial semi-recent changes to federal law around elections. The idea would be that these changes are meaningfully indicative of a past legal status in which actions undertaken in the ex-president’s circles were actually fine. Read the filing here.