At Rioter's Sentencing, Judge Puts More Blame on Trump

Mob was lied to about election by 'people who should know better,' Amit Mehta says
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 20, 2021 2:50 PM CST
At Rioter's Sentencing, Judge Puts More Blame on Trump
Insurrectionists loyal to former President Donald Trump gather outside the US Capitol in Washington on Jan. 6. At the sentencing of a rioter Friday, a federal judge blamed the people who lied to rioters about the presidential election.   (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)

Former President Donald Trump wasn't in a Washington, DC, courtroom when a Capitol rioter was sentenced Friday, but a federal judge brought him into the discussion. "You were a pawn in a game directed and played by people who should know better," Judge Amit Mehta told John Lolos. "I think that mitigates your conduct." So the judge said he was imposing just a 14-day jail sentence on Lolos, Politico reports. The Department of Justice had sought a 30-day term for the defendant, who pleaded guilty in August to one misdemeanor count of parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building, per WUSA9.

The judge did say Lolos hadn't taken responsibility for his crime. Even during the hearing, Lolos tried to minimize the Jan. 6 riot and play down the harm, insisting in reference to violence against police officers that "everyone was respecting each other." His rant included allegations that the presidential election was stolen and that he was arrested because the undercover officer involved had "stereotypical" homosexual traits. Lolos talked over the judge and kept going even when the hearing ended. "Mr. Lolos, the hearing is over," his own lawyer eventually told him.

Still, the judge expressed confidence that the sentence would deter Lolos from politically driven violence. Mehta said the claim that the Capitol attack was just a protest is false. He didn't name Trump but said, "People like Mr. Lolos were told lies, told falsehoods, told our election was stolen when it clearly was not." The judge added that when "people who should know better" repeatedly say the election was stolen, "it's not surprising that people will believe it." Those people have not been held accountable, Mehta said. People like Lolos, he said, "are the ones who are paying the consequences." (More Capitol riot stories.)

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