Capitol rioters are blaming each other for breaking down police barriers and smashing doors to get inside the building during the Jan. 6 insurrection.
One rioter after another has claimed they simply got caught up in the mob of Donald Trump supporters who believed the former president's lies about election fraud, including Texas winery owner Christopher Grider, who insists it's not his fault he found himself inside the Capitol with a "Don't Tread On Me" flag tied around his neck, reported the Associated Press.
"He would never have anticipated finding himself in the situation, but for the president and the rally and the way everything went down," Grider's attorney Brent Mayr told the Houston Chronicle. "We've heard 'mob mentality' — and he describes it to a T." Mayr more recently declined to comment further.
Some rioters are blaming the mob to defend themselves against criminal charges, while others are hoping to restore their tattered reputations -- but legal experts are doubtful judges will accept those arguments.
"Even though I'm a criminal defense attorney, it sounds like a desperation move," said Miami lawyer Joel Hirschhorn, who said the long distances traveled by many participants indicates they might have understood what would happen at Trump's "Stop The Steal" rally. "It's sort of like, 'The devil made me do it.' Come on."
A federal judge agreed to release the 39-year-old Grider on bond as he awaits trial, but she didn't accept claims that he was merely a bystander, noting that video evidence shows him at the front of a crowd rushing toward House chamber doors moments before police shot one of the rioters as she tried to climb through broken windows.
"Make no mistake, Mr. Grider, you did participate," said U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. "You did have a role in one of the most egregious assaults on our democracy in the history of this country."