WASHINGTON — A Trump supporter who told jurors he was “following presidential orders” when he stormed the U.S. Capitol last year was found guilty Thursday after he admitted he stole a coat rack and a bottle of liquor from the building.
Dustin Thompson, 38, of Ohio, testified that he got sucked into online conspiracy theories when he was laid off from his job at the start of the Covid pandemic and that he was seeking former President Donald Trump’s “respect” and “approval” on Jan. 6, 2021.
Thompson’s attorney argued that “Donald Trump encouraged people like Dustin Thompson to storm the Capitol” and took advantage of “vulnerable” people like his client. A Justice Department prosecutor told jurors in closing arguments that Trump wasn’t on trial and that they shouldn’t consider Trump’s actions even if they think he’s to blame for what happened on Jan. 6.
Thompson faced six charges, including obstruction of an official proceeding and theft of government property. He is one of nearly 800 defendants who have been charged in connection with the Capitol attack.
U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton ordered Thompson detained until his sentencing, even though the government didn’t ask him to. Walton said he was convinced that Thompson lied on the stand and that he showed he was “weak-minded” and couldn’t be trusted.
After the verdict, Walton went on to criticize Trump.
“I think our democracy is in trouble, because unfortunately we have charlatans like our former president, who doesn’t, in my view, really care about democracy but only about power,” he said.
Thompson was the third Jan. 6 participant to be found guilty by a jury. Guy Reffitt, of Texas, and Thomas Robertson, of Virginia, were convicted of all charges in their trials. Nearly 800 people have been charged in connection with the attack, and more than 250 have pleaded guilty. Hundreds of additional Jan. 6 rioters have been identified to the FBI but not yet arrested.