Capitol rioters' excuses 'imploding' as judges begin 'the punishment phase': report
Jenna Ryan at the Capitol on Jan. 6. (Department of Justice)

According to a report from the Associated Press, accused Capitol rioters are finding their own boasts, excuses and actions coming back to haunt them as they face sentencing for participating in the Jan 6th insurrection.

As the courts move on from simple cases where the charges are limited to simple trespassing, accused insurrectionists are finding that their explanations for why they were in the Capitol building after storming through the doors are not swaying federal judges.

As AP's Michael Kunzelman wrote, "Judges are hearing tearful expressions of remorse — and a litany of excuses — from rioters paying a price for joining the Jan. 6 insurrection, even as others try to play down the deadly attack on a seat of American democracy," before adding, "The Justice Department's investigation of the riot has now entered the punishment phase."

With over 700 Jan 6th riot participants having already been charged, the report notes that the most serious cases are just now finding their way to the courtrooms.

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"Among the most serious charges are against far-right extremist group members accused of plotting attacks to obstruct Congress from certifying the 2020 presidential election. Their cases haven’t yet gone to trial," Kunzelman explained. "The rioters' refrains before the judges are often the same: They were caught up in the moment or just following the crowd into the Capitol. They didn’t see any violence or vandalism. They thought police were letting them enter the building. They insist they went there to peacefully protest."

Judges, he notes, aren't buying it so far.

"Their excuses often implode in the face of overwhelming evidence. Thousands of hours of videos from surveillance cameras, mobile phones and police body cameras captured them reveling in the mayhem. Many boasted about their crimes on social media in the days after the deadly attack," he reported while noting that Judge Amy Berman Jackson told one defendant, "No one was swept away to the Capitol. No one was carried. The rioters were adults.”

The report adds, "Many other prominent cases remain unresolved. Dozens of people linked to extremist groups have been charged with conspiring to carry out coordinated attacks on the Capitol, including more than 20 defendants tied to the anti-government Oath Keepers and at least 16 connected to the far-right Proud Boys. At least five people associated with the Oath Keepers have pleaded guilty. At least one Proud Boys member has pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors. None of them has been sentenced yet."

You can read more here.