As Donald Trump's impeachment trial approaches, Republicans have sought to minimize the role the former president played in inciting the fatal insurrection.
On Saturday, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy was widely panned for arguing that "everybody across this country has some responsibility" for the failed insurrection.
That defense has a key flaw: many of those who took part in the insurrection have said they were incited by Trump's lie about election fraud.
"The words of Donald Trump supporters who are accused of participating in the deadly U.S. Capitol riot may end up being used against him in his Senate impeachment trial as he faces the charge of inciting a violent insurrection," NBC News reported Saturday.
"At least five supporters facing federal charges have suggested they were taking orders from the then-president when they marched on Capitol Hill on Jan. 6 to challenge the certification of Joe Biden's election win. But now those comments, captured in interviews with reporters and federal agents, are likely to take center stage as Democrats lay out their case. It's the first time a former president will face such charges after leaving office," NBC explained.
NBC noted an incriminating comment by Texas realtor Jenna Ryan, who flew to DC in a private jet for the effort to overturn the election.
"I feel like I was basically following my president. I was following what we were called to do. He asked us to fly there. He asked us to be there," Ryan said in her defense.
NBC also noted that "QAnon shaman" Jacob Chansley said he attended "at the request of the president that all 'patriots' come to D.C. on January 6, 2021."
University of Missouri constitutional law expert Frank Bowman explained how the statements could be used when Trump's impeachment trial starts on February 8th.
"Bringing in those people's statements is part of proving that it would be at a minimum reasonable for a rational person to expect that if you said and did the things that Trump said and did, then they would be understood in precisely the way these people understood them," Bowman explained.
But University of North Carolina School of Law Prof. Michael Gerhardt noted that Republican senators may simply ignore the evidence.
"While the statements of those people kind of bolsters the House manager's case, I think that President Trump has benefited from a Republican Party that has not been willing to look at evidence," Gerhardt noted. "They stood by him for the entire first impeachment proceeding, thinking that the phone call with the president of the Ukraine was perfect and I'm sure they will think that was a perfect speech too. There is nothing yet to suggest that they would think otherwise."
Read the full report.